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*Perfect 10*

(SOW '02)

by Tonya Lensch

Tin or aluminum may be the traditional gift to mark a 19th anniversary but Kelley Menighan Hensley - who has been playing bad girl Emily Stewart on As the World Turns for a decade - was offered gold, thanks to her Emmy nomination as Outstanding Supporting Actress.


'What a great way to end the 10 years with a bang,' smiles Hensley, a first-time nominee.  'I thought about it one year when I had a story that was the type of thing that you get nominated for.  After that I went, 'It's not supposed to happen, whatever, no big deal.  I've got a great husband, a great baby.  This is what I have in my life.  Other people have other stuff.''


Married to co-star Jon Hensley (Holden) for almost six years, the couple have two children, 3-year-old Sophie May and 3-month-old Spencer.  Hensley was on maternity leave when she received the nomination, so work and all the accompanying accolades took a backseat to being a new mom.


'Spencer is so colicky,' sighs Hensley.  'He's getting better now, but it's been hard.  He's not a big sleeper, so that's tough.  But when you wake up in the middle of the night and he's up smiling at you and laughing, you completely forget about it.'


Hensley also has a special helper in Sophie.  When theres a new baby, 'Kids can either turn into jealous little monsters or little adults.  She turned into this little mother,' Hensley shares.  'The second he cries, she's like, 'Mommy, Mommy, the baby!'  It's really unbelievable.  I say to her every day, 'How did I get so lucky?  Why did God give me such a bigm grown-up, sweet girl?'  She says, 'I don't know, Mommy.''


While Hensley adores motherhood, don't look for the family to expand any further.  'This is it, unless I decide to retire,' she shrugs.  'I couldn't do three with both of us working and both of us at the studio.  The commute's tough.  I'm just sick about having to leave that little baby at home.'

Hensley is now back at work, which means Emily is back in Oakdale this week, after a prolonged stay at the spa-from-hell with Rose and Carly.  'It was so much fun, we hope they put us together more,' Hensley says.  'They've gone through so much together.  They bonded.'  And after being the town pariah for years, 'Emily now has a couple of friends!'

Emily also has love, which she's been yearning for her whole life.  Her unlikely pairing with upstanding cop Hal Munson has been a hit with fans and with the actors who play them - as long as Emily and Hal don't turn into Bob and Kim.


'Benjamin (Hendrickson, Hal) and I are worried about becoming the happy couple; we don't want that,' states Hensley, who stresses there are many different ways their story could play out.  'Barbara will add a nice spin to that, and we can do that for a long time.  You can't be married to a woman [three times] and not have feelings.  And there are insecurities on Emily's part.  Anything to break up staring into each others eyes.  Ugh, I hate playing that.  A lot of people play it very well, but I'm so bored of it.'


Hal and Emily are anything but boring, of course.  What made them click as a couple?  'He's a solid person,' offers Hensley.  'It started out as a challenge, which she needs, but she's grown up a lot.  She's got a child.  She needs some stability in her life; the other guys she's been with didn't have the structure.  She didn't have a father, and so that - I don't want to say 'fatherly figure' because Benjamin's going to be like, 'Thanks a lot' (she laughs)  - that sense of stability,  He is an older man.  And for him, I think there's some fun and feistiness that Emily has.'


Hensley is having fun playing opposite Hendrickson, an actor she really admires.  'He's so good,' she gushes.  'To come in and learn from him...he's so subtle.  I'll pick lines apart with him like, 'I don't know how I'm going to feel when you say this because why would you say this?'  He's like, 'Just forget about it,' and then he'll put a spin on it that I would never have thought of in a million years.  Then I'll work with it and it's like 'Ahh...''


Happy and challenged at work and home, Hensley's Emmy nod was a nice bonus.  She pauses, recalling how she felt right after she learned she was nominated.  'I'm looking at Spencer going, 'Well, he could care less.'  He's just smiling at me, and all I thought of was, 'How many people have this in their life?'  I've got this killer job that I love and these two kids that totally nurture my soul.  It's a perfect balance.'*




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