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Chauntee Schuler, a Spotsy native, will appear on CBS' 'As the World Turns.'
But that's just the role Spotsylvania County's Chauntee Schuler will step into next week on the long-running CBS soap opera "As the World Turns," weekdays at 2 p.m.
Maybe some readers will remember that name from a year ago when Schuler and her fiance, Josh Walker, were part of a competition, "The Today Show Throws a Wedding."
For several weeks, the couple who met while students at the University of Richmond were seen competing against several other couples to win an all-expenses-paid wedding on the NBC morning show.
Schuler, who graduated from Massaponax High School, married her longtime sweetheart in a ceremony last Thanksgiving at U of R.
"We'd had all the excitement and thrills of the 'Today Show' thing, and had put our own plans on hold during that," said Schuler from the couple's apartment in New York City.
After coming off that very-public and high-intensity experience, she and Walker decided to go small and l0w-key for a wedding.
"It was a nice way to get back to what the day was really all about, that Josh and I were committing to a lifetime together," she said.
Just one small glitch: She was still doing nine shows a week playing Nala in a touring Broadway production of "The Lion King."
After a weekend together, Schuler flew off to Nashville to continue in the play. Walker, getting his doctorate at Princeton University, went back to school.
In August, after "The Lion King" run was done and Schuler had finished a play at the prestigious Williamstown Theater Festival, the couple was able to finally take a formal honeymoon, then settle into an apartment in the city.
Earlier this month, an audition with "As the World Turns" earned her call-back meetings and the role of Bonnie McKenchnie.
"It's an existing role, a lawyer who years earlier killed someone and had gone to prison," said Schuler, her tone light at the plot possibilities of soap operas.
Schuler started work Tuesday, and quickly came to respect the hard-working crews and casts of daytime soaps, which produce five hours of action weekly.
"On a weekly show, you might get 60 or 70 pages of script and a week to learn it," she said. "Here, we get 70 to 90 pages a day."
Starting at 7 a.m., she said actors quickly go through makeup and then begin shooting scenes done in rapid-fire succession.
"There aren't many redos," she said. "You need to be ready."
She said the "As the World Turns" cast and crew has been incredibly supportive, the producers kindly letting her ease into the role and shooting schedule.
"I can't give it away, but I think some interesting things will be happening for this character, now trying to help people in the community," she said.
Schuler said she expects her first scenes to end up on the show next week, and for her time on screen to slowly increase as her character becomes part of the action.
"Some people look down on soap operas, but they have a great tradition on television, dating back to pioneering live shows in its early years," she said. "These stories following families through time are a tradition dating back to Shakespeare."
She won't deny there's often a lighter, unpredictable side to soap story lines.
"Let's just say that you're not always bound by what's possible in the real world," she said. "You can fall in love with your brother if that works for the story."
Schuler said that she's thrilled at the exposure and experience she'll get on "As the World Turns" and for the chance to get to work with veteran actors like Eileen Fulton, in the cast since the '50s.
Schuler said it's unclear how long her part will last, but she figures to call CBS home for a while.
Her biggest fans: her parents, James and LaVerne Schuler, who still call Spotsylvania home.
Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415
WHAT: Former Spotsylvania resident Chauntee Schuler will play Bonnie McKenchnie on the soap "As the World Turns."
WHEN: 2 p.m. weekdays on CBS, probably starting next week