Long before Kelly Ripa became an everyday presence on television, she had to take odd-jobs until she finally landed her breakthrough role as Hayley Vaughan on ABC's All My Children. During an at-home reunion for Entertainment Weekly, Ripa said she was working at the Toy Fair and dropping off other people's headshots before she was cast. Ripa wound up playing Hayley until 2002 and met husband Mark Consuelos while filming the daytime soap.
"It changed my life. It changed my entire life — not just my acting life, but changed the whole trajectory of my life," Ripa told Entertainment Weekly. She noted how she was not like her co-stars, many of whom were already successful working actors. "I truly moved to New York and I was working at the Toy Fair and I auditioned sort of on a whim," the Live with Kelly and Ryan co-host said. "I was originally dropping off other people's headshots, because [that was] my side hustle."
Before she was cast on All My Children, Ripa had only appeared as a dancer on Dancin' on Air and Dance Party USA. Ripa said when she was the first cast, Hayley's last name was Wells, but the producers discovered that sounded too much like Hayley Mills. They changed the name to Hayley Vaughan. "I was like, 'I don't know who anybody is you just mentioned, so I'll go with it,'" Ripa recalled, via PEOPLE. Ripa said she was called back six times and had to film two screen tests before she was finally cast.
"I wound up getting the job. But it was really — I mean, talk about happy accidents," Ripa said. She noted that Consuelos was in a similar situation before he was cast as Mateo Santos, right after he moved to New York. "What drew me to the role was that I had never worked as an actor before, so that was very exciting, to get a job," Consuelos recalled. "It was one of my first auditions. Similarly, I had to re-screen test a few times as well."
Thirty years after she joined All My Children, Ripa is still on television almost every day, co-hosting Live with Ryan Seacrest. The two are hosting remotely, with Seacrest at his Los Angeles home and Ripa from the Caribbean. Ripa only revealed last week that she is really hosting the show from outside the country instead of her New York home. Ripa, Consuelos, and their three children were in the Caribbean when lockdowns began in the U.S. since they were on vacation.
Ripa revealed her true location during a virtual town hall with ABC employees, a source told PEOPLE. "We had planned a trip for our family, and it was supposed to be our entire family of course," Ripa reportedly said. "And we arrive and three days later, the entire world changed, really. I mean, everything shut down; the government shut down; our country shut down. I hate to use the word stuck, but we were. We decided to stay where we were."