WHERE ARE THEY NOW: DAMION SCHELLER
Noted soap-hoppers such as Nicolas Coster, Warren Burton, Crystal Chappell, Kim Zimmer, David Canary and Lisa Peluso among others, can boast of multiple daytime roles over the course of their very successful, long-term professional careers.
Damion Scheller, on the other hand, managed to accumulate a similar number of credits before graduating from high-school, playing key roles on Texas (Gregory), Search for Tomorrow (Josh), Guiding Light (Jonathan) and As The World Turns (Paul - yes, that Paul)!
The PGP Classic Soaps Blog recently caught up with Damion to reminisce about his soap days and find out what Damion is doing now!
PGP: How old were you when you began acting? What prompted you to get into the business? Do you remember your first acting job?
DS: I was 5 years old when I began acting. My mother became friends with someone who was a manager and she thought it would be a great idea to get me into commercials. My first acting job was a scratch-n-sniff commercial. I remember it quite well. I was sitting at a kindergarten table with another girl and we were scratching and sniffing iron on t-shirts with bananas, apples and other fruits. We would scratch the iron on and then say what we smelled, i.e. "Banana!" At some point, the director decided to give me some notes and I told him "no one tells me what to do but my mother." That was the end of the shoot that day.
PGP: Do you remember your audition for "Texas?" What was it like? You had a rather substantial role, especially for a child actor. How did you memorize all of your lines and adjust to the fast-pace work schedule?
DS: I can't say that I remember my audition for "Texas," but working on "Texas" was a lot of fun. I'm not sure that the producers initially intended for my character to play such a prominent role in the show, but the storyline surrounding my character just seemed to pick up steam as the year went on in part due to Pamela Long taking on the role as a writer for the show. It was great to be such a big part of the storyline. I really loved having the opportunity to work on a lot of scenes with many of the cast members. Being active on a show gives you a great opportunity to sharpen your acting skills, get a better feel for a character and memorize scenes with greater ease. Fortunately, I also had the benefit of working with great actors who would find ways to improv their way through a scene if you happened to forget your lines.
PGP: What are some of your favorite memories of working on "Texas?" Did you keep in touch with any of your co-stars?
DS: Some of my favorite memories on "Texas" are tied to particular scenes I worked on including: one scene in which Justin gave my character a lump of coal for Christmas and my character thought it was the greatest gift ever (Jerry Lanning's expression was priceless), the scene in which TJ rescues Gregory from being trapped under the Gregory One Race Car (the slow-motion shot of TJ breaking the garage door in sync with the " Texas" theme song was awesome). In addition, I really enjoyed so many of the cast members and the camaraderie we all shared. We really had a great cast who loved working together. I used to love just hanging around on set joking with the cast and crew. I don't keep in touch with anyone from the show really. I run into Michael Woods every 5 years or so around Los Angeles and I often see former "Texas" actors such as Mary Pat Gleason, Harley Kozak, Michael Woods on TV and in Films. It would be cool if someone would arrange a "Texas" reunion. ...
PGP: Pam Long, who played your mom on "Texas" went on to be the Headwriter for "Guiding Light." Is that how your role on GL came about? How did you like playing a "boy genius?"
DS: I believe that Pam had a hand in me coming to "Guiding Light." I was still only 14 so I wasn't really aware of how things worked. Playing Jonathan Brooks had its challenges, especially some of the dialogue I had to memorize. There were times when I had absolutely no idea what my dialogue meant but had to find a way to say it and make it believable. One of the cool things about "Guiding Light" was that it was such a successful show. I was really bummed out when my character's story line ended. I'll never forget crying on my last day when I realized that I wasn't coming back to the set again. I think I cried in the arms of Pam Long that day.
PGP: On "Search for Tomorrow" your mom was played by future Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis. What are some of your favorite memories from those days?
DS: Olympia was really a lovely woman to work with. She is one of those actresses that are so natural that they immediately pull you into any scene you do with them. Hume Cronyn also had that quality when I worked with him on Marsha Norman's play "Traveler In the Dark." Both actors were always so dialed-in that they would elevate your performance just by their presence next to you. My favorite memory from the days of SFT was goofing around with Cynthia Gibb (who I had a HUGE crush on).
PGP: Your last soap role was as Paul on "As The World Turns." What did it feel like to be a soap vet at such a young age?
DS: At the time I was cast on ATWT, I was deep in the midst of my own real life soap opera. It was around this time that I discovered that my mother had been embezzling my earnings as a child actor to help her play out her own extravagant lifestyle. With no available recourse against what she was doing, I simply stopped acting as a protest. I believe my stint on ATWT lasted one or two days. I felt extremely betrayed by my mother's actions and as a result became quite surly and confused. I clearly remember coming on to the set and delivering one of the most uninspired performances I've ever delivered just hoping that they would tell me that I didn't need to come back.
PGP: How would you answer the question: Where is Damion Scheller now? Do you have any message you would like to send your fans?
DS: Where am I now? I live in Los Angeles, a city I love, married since 1995 and with two beautiful daughters. When I'm not working, I'm usually out with my family enjoying the beach, a park or playing tennis, keeping life as simple, fun and drama free as possible. To my fans: Should you ever see me around town, feel free to stop me and say "Hi". I've always been flattered when reminded that I have a fan or two...Alternatively, you can always drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at www.damionscheller.com
To watch Texas and SFT on the AOL/PGP Classic Soaps Channel, click here!