by Anushka Mangal
Daytime Emmy-winning actress Victoria Konefal discovered her love for acting when she was a little girl and worked hard to get where she is today. She graduated from the incredibly prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia Performing Arts High School in New York City, a school whose list of alumni includes Ansel Elgort, Timothee Chalamet, Jennifer Aniston, Adrien Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Al Pacino, Sarah Paulson, Adrian Grenier, and Liza Minnelli to name a few. Victoria got her big break after being cast as Ciara Brady, the daughter of power couple Bo and Hope, on “Days of our Lives.” She is also bringing Ciara to life on the Peacock limited series Beyond Salem which is streaming now. I recently got a chance to talk to Victoria, who, I must say, is the most positive person I have ever met. Talking with her left me inspired, so read on as she tells me about her life.
So, tell me about your start as an actress. How did you discover your passion for it?
I have known I wanted to be an actress since I was seven after I saw an Off-Broadway production on a class trip. I was just mesmerized by the ambiance of it. I was completely captivated. Right then and there, I knew I wanted to be an actress. I didn't think it was realistic, so I had a list of other careers in case it didn't pan out. Once I realized that I really could be an actress, that was it. I think I’m so lucky to have that since so many people don’t get that kind of direction; I have friends who are still unsure of what they want to do, and I knew before I was even a decade old.
I heard you went to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia Performing Arts High School. What was that like?
It truly was one of the best times of my life. The school was like being transported into “High School Musical.” We would have students dancing on tables, and the band would come in and start playing music. It was an incredible place to study acting. It was intimidating at times for sure, especially the interview process. We forget that we are just little 13-year-olds that have to do it. I just went into it thinking, “If I get it, I get it.” I was lucky enough to get in and be able to go very easily since it was in my hometown.
How has your experience been in the industry having started so young? Do you think it's different from other people's?
I didn’t officially start acting until I was 19. I went to one year of college and then decided to pursue acting full-time. I studied theatre all through middle and high school.
I think I started acting a little late. I find that child stars have an advantage over the youth that join the industry at 19, 20, or 21 because they already have a rapport with the casting directors and the production companies .That’s not to say that these young stars haven't struggled, they just paid their dues earlier in life. I am still kind of paying my dues. The other stuff will just come later in life for me, and I’m okay with that. It's my path, and I’ll just wait patiently while it unfolds.
I’d love to hear a little bit more about Ciara.
Ciara is a fierce, powerful, strong independent woman. She is just the most amazing person, and I feel honored to play her. I believe she is how women in film and television should be portrayed. She’s not a damsel in distress and she stands up for herself.
I’d like to congratulate you! You recently won your first Daytime Emmy. What was that like?
I won Outstanding Younger Performer in a Drama Series. The ceremony was held virtually this year, but the way I had my celebration was better than anything I could have imagined. It was a very private screening. I was given a hotel room and invited all my friends and family to join me. A ceremony would have only given me a plus one, and I would have had to choose just one person to celebrate with. Having the luxury of it being so intimate and private was so special. I made it a little event. I had it catered and filled a bathtub with champagne. I made my own little ceremony out of it.
Are you excited for them to be held in person—hopefully—next year?
Sure, I’m excited for the glam of getting ready, getting dressed and walking the red carpet. It's really fun. But I've never really been an on the scene kind of person. I'll go to events and enjoy them, but I love the comfort of my own home. The Emmys are always fun. You feel everyone’s energy; the collective group of reporters, the nominees, and everyone supporting each other. I’m good with either online or in real-time.
How do you immerse yourself in the characters you play? How do you approach that?
Well, I’ve been playing Ciara for a long time. I know how to approach her just because I’ve been doing it every day, and it's ingrained in me. Leaning into my co-stars and reacting to them really helps. Acting is reacting. I am nothing without my co-stars.
I’m sure you meet all kinds of cool people on the job. Who have you been the most starstruck by?
I've never really been star-struck. I see acting as a craft that I love to do, and as a job. I can appreciate someone’s art and creativity, but I’ve never looked at someone and been like, “Oh my god, you're a star.” That would change if I were to meet Eminem. I am a huge stan, like an OG stan. I would absolutely lose my mind if I met him.
The coolest person I’ve met is probably Lady Gaga. I met her in New York at a dance studio. She was rehearsing for one of her music videos. This was even before I was in the industry—I was in high school. She was so sweet and so down to earth.
You mentioned that you get to go to all sorts of events. What has been your favorite one so far?
I went to an LGBTQ gala where Sia performed. It was cool because it was an artistic, immersive experience. Most of the events that I go to I walk the red carpet, get my photo taken, have some drinks, and then leave. With this event, I got to experience art and hear Sia live. She owns the room and captivates everyone. I was lost in her music. It was really wonderful. I’m a big live music kind of person.
Are you more of a dress-up or a comfy clothes kind of person?
You know what? I think I’m 51% comfy and 49% dolled up. I love feeling beautiful and getting glammed up, but once I’m in all of it, I want to strip it down so fast and get into my comfy oversized sweaters. I love both. I’ll get dressed up, but you'll find me at In-N-Out in a unicorn onesie an hour later.
What’s your In-N-Out order? I'd love to know.
Animal Fries, a Strawberry Milkshake, and a Double-Double. I go big or go home. I also dip my fries in my milkshake. Some people think it's crazy, but I think it's delicious.
I'm sure you're very busy. How do you manage your time?
It's hard. I'm busy all the time. A lot of that is me making time to spend with my friends and family. I do have a jam-packed schedule. I mean soaps basically film every day. But I have also learned to say no to things that don’t serve me. Sometimes, when I’m not in the mood to go to an event to show my face, I don't go. I take time for myself. It's all about listening to your body. It is hard, but it’s a blessing to have so much of life to experience. It’s busy and it's tiring, but it’s also really fun. I love every moment of it.
You have such a positive attitude towards everything. I love it.
Thank you so much. Yeah, what is life if we’re not seeing the good side? It's there, we just have to look for it and find it.
You moved from New York to LA. It’s a big difference. How did you adjust?
It's fine adjusting to LA. There's a lot to love about it. I enjoy the nature aspect of it, and I also love that I can drive up to Malibu to experience the beach. The beaches in New York are absolute trash, metaphorically and literally. They’re just a giant plastic heap. I get to experience things that I really appreciate in LA. However, I do miss New York very much and plan on going back there at some point.
What do you miss most about New York?
The energy and the history. The way that you feel when your feet hit the streets. It's a feeling I can’t really verbalize and it’s the best.
Ok, I’m sad to say that our time’s coming to an end. This next question is my favorite way to end interviews. So, Victoria, what advice would you give to young girls out there wanting to become actresses?
There are so many ways I can approach this. But, I would say, do not give up on yourself. Ever. If you believe in yourself, you're the only person that needs to. Keep Going. Don't let rejection be the reason that you stop.Rejection is a given. I auditioned 200 times before I booked my first movie. So, don’t ever let the fear stop you. Fear is all in your head. If you don't address the fear, it doesn't exist. Fear nothing, be yourself, and never stop if it is what you really want.