In 2012, the beautiful and talented Lauralee Bell returned to her parents’ creation The Young and the Restless for sweeps to tie-up some storylines that have been reverberating for years and never left. The return was perfectly timed to the build-up to the 40th Anniversary of The Young and the Restless, the #1 rated soap for 26 years and counting. Bell is now a Daytime Emmy Award nominee for mI promise, in the Outstanding Special Class – Short Format Daytime Program category. And she was probably the last person who thought this nomination was coming. Though the beautiful star is very grateful, and excited mainly because any exposure the series gets is more opportunities to save lives of teens and others.
I spoke exclusively with Lauralee Bell on Friday, one day after her powerful texting-and-driving web saga, mI promise,was nominated in the Outstanding Special Class – Short Format Daytime Program category, and she was still pinching herself with surprise and gratitude.
Bell has created/produced/written/directed and sometimes acts in three diverse webseries. Her latest, mI promise, isalso a Webby Honoree this year for Online Film and Video: Drama Individual Short or Episode. “Our entire goal was to reach teens, pre-teens and adults about what can happen when you text and drive at the same time.” Bell continues, “If we’ve helped to make people consider the consequences by providing a dramatic example, then we accomplished what we set out to do.” Bell admits she’s been “gratified and overwhelmed” by the response and positive feedback she’s received about mI promise.
So, what did Lauralee do on Thursday morning when the Emmy nominations were being revealed? “I am not a person who sits and waits for such an announcement. In fact, it’s still not real to me yet. Maybe when I’m actually at the ceremony it’ll sink in, Tommy. However, to be honest. I was making lunch boxes, not waiting by the phone. In fact it took me until late Thursday evening to finally reach my mom [Y&R, B&B co-creator, Lee Phillip Bell]. And we played telephone tag for a while and she congratulated me, and it meant so much coming from her,” said Bell.
I told Lauralee that I was up at 4:30 a.m. waiting for the announcements, and when hers came through, I immediately thought of her late father, William J. Bell. “I can honestly say that I feel him right by my side today, Tommy. I know he is happy and congratulating me from where he is now. I carry my dad by me whenever I am on set, not only at ‘Y&R’, but when I was making mI promise as well. I definitely saw a powerful father-presence on Thursday. And of course I have always wanted to be super mom, just like my mother. So, I know she’s proud as well.”
But, Bell knows that her mission with the Webby and Emmy-nominated series is far from over. “Just on Thursday, my kids and I were going down Sunset Blvd. and there was a man in front of us, you could see him texting on his phone, holding it up high to see it, and weaving in and out of his lane. And I had to keep reminding myself, we are trying to teach young people the importance of just waiting until you get home, or pulling over off the road and then answering a call or text, and here’s this man doing the opposite,” Bell stated.
I told her that I have enough problems on Sunset Blvd. as it is, and that I agreed that her series is something everyone, not just teenagers should watch. It’s absolutely the most profound series on the Web. It doesn’t preach, it teaches. It inspires me every day not to pick up the phone when I’m in a car. As we talked about it, I reminded her, that her late father ran two of the most successful TV series in Daytime television history, and he never even owned a cell phone. “A cell phone, Tommy? Dad never owned a fax-machine,” Bell enthused.
Bell was still reeling and beaming from the nomination, and her sense of pride for the work she put in the series, not only acting, but she wrote, directed and produced it, as well. “I just hope that it touches people’s lives, and most importantly, as a mother myself, I see how my mom cared about other people’s children, not just her own. I want to help teach young people to think before they pick up that phone to text while driving. The consequences are serious,” she said.
Lauralee began with her Webby Honoree Family Dinner webseries, Bell and husband Scott Martin served as executive producers. She debuted her celebrity-filled webisodes on the front page of FunnyorDie, Will Ferrell’s industry favorite comedy website. The first two episodes starred the late Phyllis Diller with regulars Dan Cortese, Aaron Lustig and Bell. Cloris Leachman joined for the next two episodesof FamilyDinner, and the fifth episode starred Shirley Jones with cameos by Jordin Sparks, Richard Marx, Rick Springfield and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers for their biggest episode yet. Bell won a Telly Award for her next webseries, Just Off Rodeo which married entertainment to fashion and a new form of merchandising.
Earlier, Bell spent eighteen years starring on the top-rated show in daytime television, CBS’ The Young and the Restless and she brought her character to CBS’ The Bold and the Beautiful in 2007 for a story arc. She made a short-term return to Y&R in 2010 and 2011. Bell also starred in Easy Rider: The Ride Back, a prequel to the iconic film. She was the lead in the Lifetime movie, Past Sins, where she portrayed hotshot attorney Donna Erickson, who specialized in cases that generated lots of media attention, and the female lead in the feature film, Carpool Guy, directed and produced by Corbin Bernsen. She also guested on Castle and CSI: Miami. Bell grew up on Y&R, emerging from fashion model Cricket to passionate, ultra-competent attorney Christine Blair Williams The fans voted her Outstanding Supporting Actress at the Soap Opera Awards and Lifetime chose Bell as one of their Intimate Portrait subjects. She has always been one of the most popular daytime magazine cover subjects. One soap magazine put her on the cover for eight consecutive issues and the resulting sales surge permanently took them from third place to a gaining-on-#1 second place.
In real life, Bell married photographer Scott Martin, whom she met when they were schoolmates in Chicago, in a storybook 1997 wedding. The couple had their first child in 2001, their second in 2002 and gave birth to their joint production company a few years after that.
Bell joins older brother Bradley, who is the showrunner for CBS’s most watched Daytime Drama on the planet, “The Bold and the Beautiful,” with Bradley’s show receiving 18 Emmy Award-nominations as well on Thursday.
Lauralee is making a difference, and though she’s modest, this series is worthy of its honors and distinctions. She concluded by saying, “I know this is cliché, but I agree with the statement we often hear, It’s an honor to be nominated. I’m forever changed by it, and grateful, and humbled by it.”
If you haven’t seen this series, please go to: mI promise, as it can change your life.