Michelle Stafford is an American actress and showrunner, who is known for her portrayal of the character of Phyllis Summers in the CBS daytime soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless’, for which she has received two Daytime Emmy Awards. An Illinois native, Michelle Stafford grew up in California. Following her high-school graduation, she pursued her aspiration of becoming a model. She made her screen debut in 1990 in the Fox soap opera ‘Tribes’, portraying the role of Frankie. Despite the show’s cancellation after three months, she was able to make a mark as an actress and continued to land roles afterwards, both on the stage and screen. In 1997, she starred in yet another Fox soap opera, ‘Pacific Palisades’. Two years later, she made her big-screen debut, in the mystery drama ‘Double Jeopardy’. She joined the cast of ‘The Young and the Restless’ in 1994 and has been a quintessential part of the show ever since. She also portrayed Nina Reeves in the ABC soap opera ‘General Hospital’. In 2013, she conceptualised and acted in her own comedy web series ‘The Stafford Project’.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on September 14, 1965, in Chicago, Illinois, USA, Michelle Stafford grew up in Montrose, California, with her older sister, Janine.
After her high-school graduation, she decided to try out modelling, a profession about which she had always been passionate. She reached out to every modelling agency in town, but without much success. At the time, she was slightly overweight, and the agencies also told her that she did not have “the right look”.
Despite the setbacks she encountered at the beginning of her career as a model, she did not give up. Stafford eventually found herself an agent and started doing television commercials. However, during this period, she began experiencing swelling on her left eyelid. When she went to a doctor, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Fortunately for her, the tumour was not malignant. She subsequently underwent successful brain surgery. During the recovery period, she brought about various changes in her personal life. She lost the extra weight and dyed her hair red. This time, the fashion world did not ignore her. Stafford signed with L.A. Models and started appearing on fashion shows in Milan, Tokyo, and Paris.
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In 1990, Michelle Stafford was cast in her first screen role as Frankie in Fox’s soap opera ‘Tribes’. It was cancelled after three months, and she then acted in two plays directed by Charles Durning in Los Angeles.
In 1993, she starred in the direct-to-video drama thriller ‘Body of Influence’. A year later, she played a hotel guest in the telefilm ‘Another Midnight Run’. Stafford appeared in another short-lived Fox soap opera in 1997, titled ‘Pacific Palisades’.
Her first cinematic appearance was in Bruce Beresford’s 1999 film ‘Double Jeopardy’. In 2000, she worked with Samantha Mathis, Gretchen Mol, and Matthew Settle in the romance-drama ‘Attraction’.
She portrayed the female lead in the 2002 crime-drama ‘Cottonmouth’. In the 2003 comedy ‘Vampires Anonymous’, she shared the screen space with Paul Popowich, Michael Madsen, and Judith Scott.
In 2013, she appeared in the Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez starrer, ‘Parker’. Her most recent cinematic outing was in the biographical crime drama ‘Durant's Never Closes’ (2016).
In 2013, she created and appeared in the YouTube comedy series ‘The Stafford Project’. She then starred in the web series ‘The Secret Mind of a Single Mom’ along with her daughter, Natalia, in 2015.
After leaving ‘The Young and the Restless’ in 2013, she was cast as Nina Reeves, the wife of Dr. Silas Clay (Michael Easton), in the ABC soap opera ‘General Hospital’. She portrayed the character from 2014 to 2019 before returning to ‘The Young and the Restless’ and was subsequently replaced by Cynthia Watros.
Initially her role as Phyllis Summers in the CBS daytime soap opera ‘The Young and the Restless’ was expected to be short. However, her acting convinced the producers to extend her contract. She has portrayed the character from 1994 to 1997, from 2000 to 2013, and from 2019 to present.
Michelle Stafford has been nominated for 11 Daytime Emmy Awards for her outing as Phyllis Summers in ‘The Young and the Restless’. She received her first nomination in 1996 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
She won her first Daytime Emmy in the same category in 1997. All but one of her other nominations and the second win (in 2004) have been in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category. In 2005, she and Peter Bergman received a nomination in the Most Irresistible Combination category. Besides the Emmys, Stafford has also won three Soap Opera Digest Awards for playing the role.
Family & Personal Life
In December 2009, Stafford had her first child, a daughter whom she named Natalia Scout Lee Stafford, through her embryo and a gestational surrogate. She welcomed her son, Jameson Jones Lee Stafford, via similar means in October 2015.