Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
Cheating, scheming, lying and intense drama are things people normally try to avoid, but for Michael Mealor they are all in a day’s work. That’s because Mealor’s work takes place in a different world, on the hit soap opera The Young and The Restless where he plays prodigal son Kyle Abbott. It is a vastly different world from the one in which he grew up – that was in Atlanta, where he loved the outdoors and played high school football, all the while secretly dreaming of being an actor. Mealor’s start in front of the camera was one of those improbable show business stories: one day he just walked into a gym and was discovered by a modeling scout. Before long he had moved to Los Angeles, where he learned modeling was not what he expected. Mealor headed back to the South and attended Auburn University, where he discovered his passion was truly acting and soon enough he was back in LA, where he found work as a Soul Cycle instructor in between auditions. Mealor earned a number of TV appearances before landing the dream role on The Young and The Restless. The Overhead Compartment took a few spins with Michael Mealor to learn about life as an actor and what it’s really like to work on a soap opera.
The Overhead Compartment with Michael Mealor starts now…
OC: The Young and The Restless audition process was once a week for six weeks and that eventually led to your role as Kyle Abbott. What do you remember about the auditions?
MM: The audition was shaded in secrecy and I didn’t really have an idea about the weight of the role. I wasn’t sure if it was for a smaller guest spot or a contract. All I know is that every Friday, I would end up going back to the casting director’s office for another callback. On the sixth Friday in a row, I finally had an on-camera test. I looked at the casting director before the test and said “I really hope this goes well because if not, I’m going to miss hanging out with you every Friday afternoon.” I booked the job.
OC: At what point did you know The Young and The Restless was going to change your life?
MM: When I saw my name on a parking space at CBS Television City. Only kidding…sort of! It was only when everyone explained the secrecy of me booking the role that I began to understand the gravity of what was going on. The level of secrecy they wanted to keep gave me a strong inkling as to how big this actually was!
OC: What is your single best memory to date on the show?
MM: We were filming a three shot of me, Jack and Billy (my TV dad and uncle) standing together in the CEO office. I happened to look across the stage and see the shot on the monitor as we were filming and it gave me so much joy. The three Abbott men standing side by side. I finally felt like I was part of the family. It was a big day for me.
OC: What’s it really like to be on a Soap?
MM: Every day is something different and sometimes it is really as dramatic as you see on screen. It’s definitely as fast-paced as people say. To give you an idea, if the words come out of my mouth correctly, it’s going on national television. Sometimes we do more in a day than most shows do in a week. It’s exhilarating!
OC: What’s the first thing people say when they recognize you?
MM: Usually it’s as simple as “you’re Kyle Abbott!” Only recently have people been identifying me as Michael Mealor instead of Kyle. I did have a person come up to me in a coffee shop and tell me that she hated me with a passion. If I remember correctly, at the time, I was trying to take the family company public while my dad was in jail on the show. It was a lovely interaction!
OC: What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the business?
MM: Keep on keeping on. It’s hard. It’s the hardest thing in the world to take rejection on the chin day after day, for years on end, but I promise you, it’s worth it. My god, is it worth it! Oh….and learn and remember people’s names. It will take you farther than you realize.
OC: You grew up in Georgia and had to get rid of your southern accent for the part, how did you do it?
MM: I actually decided to get rid of my accent before “Young and the Restless” came along. I didn’t want my southern accent to limit me in any way so it was time for it to go. I ended up working with a speech therapist at a hospital once a week for 6 months. She specialized in stroke victims and really worked with the muscles in my throat so that I wouldn’t have to think about it while I was performing. It took a lot of hard work that wasn’t very exciting, but it was worth it.
OC: Do you still have the drawl in real life?
MM: No more southern drawl. It comes out every now and then when I’m around family, but the voice you hear on screen is my normal voice now.
OC: You’re known for being in shape and even worked as a SoulCycle instructor, what is your favorite workout?
MM: Well, it’s no longer indoor cycling haha! After teaching SoulCycle, I was a bit burned out. I’ve gotten really into boxing over the past year. A few rounds of mitt work with some cardio does the trick and keeps the mind sharp.
OC: You are a self-proclaimed cinephile, what are the top three movies everyone should see?
MM: Elia Kazan’s “Splendor in the Grass,” Frederico Fellini’s “8 1/2,” and Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver”
OC: If you were not an actor, what would you be doing?
MM: I probably would have gone to school to be an architect. Architecture is fascinating to me.
OC: You’re a leap year baby, how do you celebrate your birthday every year?
MM: Usually I’m celebrating small on the 28th (have to keep it in February even if it is a day early). When there is a 29th (this year!), I go big. Hey, it only comes once in four years, you have to throw down!
OC: You now reside in LA, top three favorite restaurants you love in Los Angeles?
MM: I’m always finding the new restaurants so this is my specialty, but I keep a couple of staples in my back pocket. Dialogue, Jon and Vinny’s, and Bavel. They can’t be beat!
OC: What is the first thing you do when arriving in a hotel room?
MM: See what is outside the window then find the closest coffee shop.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
MM: …wearing a watch. I’m a watch guy. I love the feel of a nice watch on my wrist. I think there is an unspoken elegance about a timeless watch that can change the way you look and feel.
Michael Mealor, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!
Stacy Steponate Greenberg brings over 15 years of travel and marketing experience to Pursuitist. With her column, The Overhead Compartment, Stacy interviews celebrities and athletes bringing an insight into their lives and travel habits. Stacy spent 11 years at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide in various capacities, serving stints as Director of Marketing for the St. Regis and Sheraton brands, and Senior Director for Starwood Residences. Prior to Starwood, Stacy worked as Manager of Marketing for Hyatt Hotels. A native of Chicago, Stacy resides New York City with her husband and two kids, who like to “rate” the various hotels on their travels with their mom. Reach Stacy via Twitter twitter.com/StacyGSG.