Soap Opera Digest: Do you know what you’re going to name a character from the get-go?
Ron Carlivati: Well, let’s use Chanel for an example. I was calling her Coco in my mind, never thinking thatt it would be the ultimate name; it was a placeholder name. So we kept saying, “We’re looking for Coco, we’re looking for Coco.” And then it was like, “What are we going to calll her really?” And then all of a sudden, when we were brainstorming the name, one of the other writers said, “What about Michelle?” And Michelle was the name and I liked it, but it didn’t feel completely right. And we were going with that and then someone else said, “What about Chanel?” and I said, “Done. I love it, I love it, I love it.”
Digest: Does the name help find the right actor for the role?
Carlivati: It doesn’t always. Usually, you’re trying to find an actor to match a character. Because Paulina has a few bucks, in my mind, I had someone like the character of Whitley in mind from A DIFFERENT WORLD. I had a little bit of an idea that it was a snobby, spoiled girl, and when you see Precious [Way, ex-Chanel], she’s not exactly that person. There’s an element of that to her, but we went a little bit in a different direction with the character once we saw her. And you start to realize, too, who you might pair her with, and that can change based on who that actor is.
Digest: Is that a common experience, to change a character based on who you hire?
Carlivati: For the most part, no. Usually, it’s more, “I’m looking for a love interest for X and that’s why we’re casting Y,” and usually you stick with that and that’s why you audition one person with another person to see their chemistry and how they do. But sometimes you just find a certain actor and they bring other things to the role and you think, “Wow, I never imagined putting them with so-and-so, but now, how do you not?” So sometimes you have to go where their talents lead the way, or their chemistry with someone leads the way.
Digest: Have you ever agonized over a name choice?
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