Soap Opera Digest Interview

Despite growing up in “a big family and a very loud house,” GH’s Emme Rylan (Lulu) never envisioned herself as the matriarch of her own brood. “Are you ready for this?” chuckles the mother of three. “I never wanted

To hear her tell it, her younger self didn’t have a genuine aversion to the idea of motherhood so much as she thought she’d have to give up her passion for performing to become one. “I grew up in a really small town where people had kids really young; that was just kind of the way of life,” she explains. “My perception of that as an 18-year-old was that either you chase your dreams or you stay home and have kids. And so somehow I just thought, ‘Well, if I move to New York and chase my dream, then I’m not doing kids.’ Every woman I met in my life was like, ‘I was born to be a mother!’ I didn’t feel [that way]. I wasn’t imagining the day I had a kid growing up; I was imagining traveling the world as an actress and playing different parts and I really thought it had to be one or the other. I thought I had to choose.”

Happily, life has taught her that, as she puts it, “Guess what? You can actually have a job that you love and have a family! Even when I was pregnant with Jackson,” who’ll turn 9 in October, “people were telling me that I couldn’t have my career anymore. I was like, ‘Uh, did you notice that everyone else you work with has kids?’ But once we had Jackson, I knew I wanted more. I was like, ‘He’s so freaking awesome! I want a hundred of him!’ ”

Rylan has starred on three soaps (GUIDING LIGHT, Y&R and now GH) and has had a child during her runs on each of them (she began her stint as Y&R’s Abby back in 2010 while pregnant with her second son, Levi); her most recent addition, Dakota, made her debut last June, much to the delight not only of her parents, but of her two big brothers. “They wanted a sibling so badly that they were ready to ask Santa for one,” Rylan reports. “And by the way, I was already pregnant and had this huge stomach that they hadn’t noticed when they told me that [laughs].” While she describes the transition from no kids to one as “startling,” by the time Dakota came around, “We did not have an adjustment. I feel like she was meant to be here the whole time and she seamlessly came into the family. It feels complete.”

Complete but hectic, with a level of chaos she says she could not manage without her kids’ supportive and involved father, Don Money. “He’s been so hands-on from day one that I kind of forget that’s not the norm,” she muses. “He’s been so 100 percent a partner. He set the bar high and we could not be living the life that we’re living right now without him being all in. People on Instagram are always like, ‘Is Dakota with the nanny?’ We don’t have a nanny! We don’t even have a babysitter! We have three children! Just feeding all the living creatures in our house — cats and dogs included — we basically run a farm. ‘Feed these ones! Pack up these lunches! Get these ones out the door. Feed her!’ It’s never-ending and constant.

“For both of us to be working as much as we do and have our hobbies, that’s what I think is the amazing part of having Don as my co-parenting partner,” she continues. “He loves to play basketball and plays on several different leagues and he understands that I have my own interests, too. Apparently our dreams and ambitions can’t be killed no matter how many kids we have! We can be parents and support each other in being who we are. We just have a lot more love — and chores! It’s just like this never-ending juggling act of, ‘Who has the kid? When do you have the kid? Who’s picking up the kid?’ Every day is like a surprise!”

Raising three little ones hasn’t dampened Rylan’s enthusiasm for expressing herself, be it via acting, dancing (she’s an avid class-taker) or crafting (she’s got her own Etsy store at “I still feel like I want to be creative,” she nods. “I’m sewing with Dakota on my lap. I didn’t do acting class while I was pregnant, I was too sick, but I just mentioned to Don the other day, ‘I think I’m ready to go back.’ ” But whereas her career “was my main focus in life before I had kids,” now, “my main job is for my kids to outlive me. That’s all I really care about! [Motherhood] changed the way I approach everything in life.”

Mothering a girl for the first time has brought about some additional changes. “It’s embarrassing,” she groans. “I’m like rainbows and sparkles and unicorns now! I’m not even joking. It’s so awful. As it turns out, I am a girl and I’d forgotten about it! She is so feminine and all of a sudden when I’m looking at clothes, I’m like, ‘Oh, well, she needs the rainbow unicorn shirt, obviously!’ And then I’m like, ‘Wait. I need this rainbow unicorn shirt!’ ”

With her own domestic life more bustling than ever, Rylan is thrilled that her GH life has become more work-centric, with Lulu’s new career as a reporter taking center stage. “I’ve been doing so much journalist stuff that I haven’t seen Rocco or Charlotte lately,” she observes. “I haven’t even been on Lulu’s home set in a while! But I feel like we spent a lot of time on her domestic life. I was ‘Mom Lulu’ for a while and I’m happy for her to have a job and to do something different. Working with new people is my favorite thing, just because I feel like it brings in a new energy, so to be having scenes with people like Steve [Burton, Jason] is really fun for me. I’m having a great time at work and then I get to go home to Don and three kids who want to cuddle every night. I am very, very lucky.”