TV Goodness Q&A: Days of our Lives’ Camila Banus [INTERVIEW]
Photo Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC
If you don’t know who Camila Banus is, you should. Currently she plays Gabi Hernandez on Days of our Lives. Right now she is part of a groundbreaking story line. Her character is pregnant by her gay ex-boyfriend and she is married to someone that she thinks she knows but really doesn’t. She is not only an up and coming actress but is involved with a charity that we discuss further and is enjoying her life in Southern California.
Before we go into the interview, I want to give some background information about her character and the other characters she is involved with:
-Gabi Hernandez is the little sister of Rafe Hernandez. She was dating Will Horton, who had been struggling with himself. While he was still figuring out whom he was him and Gabi slept together and Gabi became pregnant. Will eventually realized he was gay and then he got together with Sonny Kiriakis. Gabi became obsessed with Chad, who was dating her friend Melanie. She hired an actor to pretend that he was her stalker. The stalker took it too far and kidnapped Melanie. Long story short, the stalker was caught and died. Melanie left Chad and Salem. Chad told Sonny what had happened but everyone was sworn to secrecy. Chad had beaten up Nick Fallon and there was a deal made that no one would go to the police for either mistake. Nick met Gabi after he got out of prison. They fell in love and when Gabi found out she was pregnant with Will’s baby, he wanted to take care of Gabi and the baby and they married. But Nick had a problem with Will being gay and blackmailed him to give up his rights for the baby. Nick was horrible to everyone. Then a guy named Jensen who had attacked Nick while he was in prison, kidnapped him and Gabi. He then took them to Smith Island. Will and Sonny followed them. Sonny got Gabi out first. Will was shot while saving Nick. Meanwhile Sonny had to deliver Gabi’s baby on the island. Gabi and Will’s baby is named Arianna. Are you all caught up?
I began the interview by telling Camila how she and the other actors in the story line were doing their best work:
Camila: Thank you, I’ve been getting crazy feedback from fans on Twitter. I didn’t even know the scenes were so great. So I started watching them.
TVGoodness: Do you watch your own work? No? Yes? Maybe sometimes?
Camila: Sometimes if there is something important going on, I like to watch.
TVGoodness: For a person who hasn’t been watching Days (which is nuts!), please tell me about your character, her name and what’s been going on?
Camila: Gabi’s full name is Gabriella Josefina Hernandez aka Gabi Hernandez. I would say she is a very protective, spunky Latina. She is very much about her family. She loves Rafe to death. (Rafe Hernandez is Gabi’s brother and played by Galen Gering). She takes care of him just like she was his mother. And then he takes care of her like he was her father. And they have an amazing relationship. I think it’s one of the best brother/sister relationships. They are just so loving and so funny towards each other and I think it’s such a real relationship that you see every day with them. And Gabi is….I think she is very outgoing. She likes to be involved in situations; she likes to know what is happening. She likes to listen to what people have to say. She’s a great friend and now she’s a mom. She kind of got involved with Will (Gabi’s ex-boyfriend, Will Horton, played by Emmy winner Chandler Massey, who came out of the closet but is the father of Gabi’s baby). And things happened the way they happened. And Will reached out to her and told her he was gay. And it kind of happened again and she got pregnant. And now she is pregnant with a gay man’s baby. That’s a big thing, that’s a really big thing. It’s okay for her because she needed this I feel. I think she needed this situation in her life to move on. Because Gabi’s also been a bad girl…..
TVGoodness: Yes, she has!
Camila: Yeah, she’s been a bad girl. But I feel like she needed this pregnancy and this whole life change to be better; for people to see she has good in her. She meets Nick (played by Blake Berris). Nick is a blessing, kind of. (Laughs) They kind of get together in this situation where they don’t want to talk about stuff. They just want to focus on the now. And it’s great for right now and who knows what’s going to happen in a little while. So Gabi gets involved with him and he has his demons that come back and haunt him and unfortunately they involve her. And that is what is happening now. She’s kidnapped, she has her baby, Sonny (played by Emmy nominee, Freddie Smith) delivers it and its been crazy. It’s been crazy!
TVGoodness: Yes, it has been. It’s May sweeps too. Usually there is something big that happens around this time. You are in quite the different story line than they ever had before in soaps. It’s kind of groundbreaking and I wanted to know how you feel and how people have reacted to it.
Camila: I guess with every storyline you are going to have people that like it and people that don’t like it. Some people are a little more conservative and some people are a little more liberal. And that’s okay. That’s going to happen in every storyline regardless. I feel like I’m super honored to be part of this storyline. I feel like it’s very progressive of the show. And I think this is something the writers and executives realized that this is something we cannot brush off anymore. This is something we need to touch. This is something that needs to be on the show because it’s something so much in our lives every day. It’s like that show; it’s The New Normal. It needs to happen and it needed to happen now. And I feel really honored and grateful to be part of that storyline because as you know, Gabi in the past didn’t really have a storyline. Gabi was just kind of on the sidelines, helping people out or all about Chad (played by Casey Deidrick). Now they have taken Gabi to a whole other level; and incorporated her into a storyline that means so much to so many people. It means a lot to me. It’s amazing because it’s happening now. It should have happened a long time ago.
TVGoodness: Tell me how it is with you and the other actors telling this story. You and Freddie’s character hated each other because what you had done to Chad. Talk about going from hating to, I think, having a mutual respect for each other. Because he had to deliver your baby. And by the way some of that stuff was so funny. In such a serious story, you always need a little laughter and I thought that was really well played. Talk about a little bit about you and the other actors working on this storyline and how has it been for all of you.
Camila: It’s funny because all of these scenes I had with Freddie they were so crazy to shoot. And I remember going over them with him and being so excited. This is such a new aspect to Sonny and Gabi’s relationship. I think there is just disappointment on Sonny’s side, like how can you do this? How can you not only do this, but how can you blatantly lie about this, especially to my boyfriend, someone I don’t want to lie to and anyone else. You are making me do something I don’t want to do. And how can you do this to a friend of yours? There’s a lot of disappointment and hurt there. I definitely think that the scenes of Sonny delivering Gabi’s baby, humble both of them. It puts them in a position that they hated each other but they are both going to be in each other’s lives. And Gabi has to trust Sonny with Arianna. And Sonny has to trust Gabi with Arianna. And it’s going to be like that for a long time. Their lives are twisted and weaved together. And it was really fun to shoot. And Freddie was crazy, off the walls. He was doing pushups before we started. We were getting buckets of water poured on us. It was just so crazy. It was so much fun. It was like you said it was the comedic relief. It was just so awesome to play and the tension, it was just really great.
TVGoodness: Your character does not know yet why Will signed away his rights to the baby. I don’t even know if you can talk about it. Because obviously there will be a change in the Nick Fallon character. Do you think her character has her suspicions? What do you think?
Camila: Gabi does find out. She says that she knew there was something behind it; she knew he (Will) couldn’t just sign away that so easily. She never really knows how dark Nick can be. She never really sees the evil in him. She only sees him as he can be better. He can be better; he’s a really good person. He gives off so much kindness; he’s so caring, so protective. He cares about me and Arianna and that’s what she really sees… And it’s hard for her to get other people to tell her how mean he can be because she never sees that. He’s never been mean with her.
TVGoodness: He just manipulates her, don’t you think?
Camila: Yeah, but she never sees it as that, what the audiences sees. She doesn’t see Nick being nice to her and then going off being mean to Will. I can’t play that since I can’t physically see him do that. So, it’s crazy because Gabi has always been like that. Gabi is a very realistic person who sees what she sees in the moment. And it’s been like that forever. She was blinded and she thought that Chad was in to her. And technically he was not. It’s just a matter of what he sees what Nick does has what is best for Gabi. And I think that’s the way that they have justified it.
TVGoodness: I can talk to all day about this but I wanted to ask you about how you got involved in the business.
Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/NBC
Camila: At a really young age, I showed signs of just being really outgoing and hyperactive. And just really wanting to be the center of attention. And that’s never changed. (Laughs) And when I was young a lot of people would stop my mom and say she should be in commercials, she should be in theater, dancing, something. And that’s what my mom did; put me in all three of those things. I needed to release my energy in some way; all those things helped me tremendously. And I did a lot of print jobs, voiceovers, typically all the things I could do in Miami. And right before graduating high school, I booked One Life to Live through a tape. And I went to live in New York and I shot that there for a while and then moved to L.A. And six months there I auditioned for Days of Our Lives. I pre-tested, I didn’t book the show. And someone else was Gabi for a while. And a couple months later I got a call back again, we actually want to have you come in go for the role. I was extremely honored. Of course let’s do it! And from then on I was Gabi.
TVGoodness: I forgot about that. I forgot that someone else was playing Gabi before.
Camila: I’m a recast
TVGoodness: I read in your bio that you work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I wanted to know how you got involved and talk a little bit about what they do because I think it’s really important.
Camila: Yes, definitely. It’s extremely important. Three years ago, I suffered a suicide in my family and it was my Dad. It was a crazy, life-changing experience for me and my family. It really impacted our whole lives as you can imagine. What I’ve been telling people too is that you never really think that you are going to have this inside your family. You never really imagine anyone in your family doing something like that. And it came to us very unexpectedly. My Dad never spoke of depression. He never spoke that he had any problems at all. And it was a complete shock and a complete surprise and that is what we are trying to avoid, that surprise. Because if there isn’t that surprise, it will not happen, it could be helped, it could be treated. You can talk about it. There’s always help. There’s always a hotline. There’s someone you can talk to. Even if you are not suffering a mental illness. Even if you are having a bad day and you want to talk it out, there is someone there to talk to you. Even if you don’t have family, there’s going to be someone there to talk to. Even if they’re not blood, there’s going to be someone to support you, there’s going to be a hotline to call anyone you need to talk to, you can be helped. And that’s what we’re trying to do; get out there. So after that happened to me, I was researching ways to help my community in that aspect and I looked up and saw the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and got in contact with them. I told them that I wanted to help in any way possible. I’m not a multi-million dollar celebrity. I wish I can give lots of money to the organization, because they really need it. But unfortunately I can’t, I support my family. So I told them that I wanted to help in any way possible. And even if it was printing out flyers, giving them out on the street, counting them, I really didn’t care what it was. They were gracious enough to ask me to host two of their walks. They’re called Out of the Darkness. And they are just walks of family members of victims of suicide loss. It’s amazing the experience you go through. It’s kind of eerie but it’s also amazing. It’s an amazing experience to be around people that have gone through the same things you have. And you meet people that are still grieving, that are still mourning and are so excited about spreading the word about suicide prevention. To see the fire in their eyes, they never want to see anyone go through what they’ve gone through. So I was honored to host two of their walks. It was a great experience.
TVGoodness: I think it’s great because I think certain communities, including the Latin community. I think there is a bigger suicide rate than people realize. Correct?
Camila: And it’s so crazy because one of the things they say is every 15 minutes someone commits suicide. And every sixteen minutes their family is left behind to deal with it. It’s a crazy thing that it’s happening so much. And it’s also happening with children. Imagine a child having that thought cross through their minds because they are getting bullied or because of their situation at home. But whatever the case may be that should never happen. It should never happen! There are people in Africa that don’t even have water that don’t commit suicide, how can it happen in the U.S.
TVGoodness: I just want to switch gears a minute since I probably don’t have much more time. I write about TV so I wanted to know what you watch right now.
Camila: TV wise: I just stopped watching The Following because it ended but I didn’t know I was going to be so in to it. Kevin Bacon was amazing. The Following was beyond amazing I loved it. But my real, real, real addiction comes with the Food Network. It’s a problem I have, it’s on 24 hours. It’s either Chopped, Cupcake Wars; I’m just obsessed. People have asked me if you weren’t an actress what you would be. And my first answer is Celebrity Chef. Oh my god, those people get paid to eat! (Laughs)
TVGoodness: The other thing I read in your bio is that you teach Zumba, is that true?
Camila: I do, I do. I teach two classes a week. It’s a fun way to get cardio into your life. I’ve danced my whole life. And dancing for me is a big passion. It makes me feel great and releases endorphins, it feels awesome. And dancing and being able to work out at the same time, I’m down with that! It’s a big thing in my life; I started when I was 15. It’s amazing.
I want to personally thank Camila for speaking with me. She is fun and there are only great things coming down the road for her!
Days of our Lives airs Monday through Friday. Check your local listings for times.
If you know someone that needs help or you want to help in someone way, contact: https://www.afsp.org/