On June 26, nearly five decades since she began her screen acting career at age 6, Eva LaRue won her first Daytime Emmy for The Young and the Restless. “It was such a beautiful, full-circle thing,” Eva, 53, tells the latest issue of Closer, on newsstands now. 

Just three months earlier, she lost a “great friend,” her second ex-husband and dad to her daughter Kaya, John Callahan. “The first time I was nominated was for my [1997 All My Children] storyline with John. I learned how to act with him, so it was super meaningful on a deeper level. I felt like he was shining down, and happy.” 

The CSI: Miami alum is currently single, but says she and Kaya, 18, “just wake up, take a deep breath and take on whatever we’re supposed to.” For Eva, that’s been a surprise Pure Flix series she’s excited about, Finding Love in Quarantine. Closer talked with Eva about her life and one of her greatest lessons: “How to heal, forgive and move forward.”

While most actors are hunkering down,  you’re still working. How did it happen?

I had worked with Pure Flix on a [2015] movie, Dancer and the Dame. [The filmmakers] asked, “Would you be interested in this little short-form series? We’re going to shoot it literally like you’re in quarantine! [Pure Flix co-founder] David White and his daughter Ocean are going to film from their house, and we’ll do your side with Stacey Dash you two will be the only ones working together.” We had our COVID tests, and a minimal crew, so it worked out great!

Eva LaRue and Daughter Kaya

Many fans know you from All My Children. How did that experience shape you?

I was there off and on for [about] 10 years. I was dead for [years], then came back from the dead! [Laughs] I met John there, and we fell in love  as our characters were falling in love. Then our characters got married, and we followed suit and got married. Our characters had kids, and then we had a kid! All My Children was my first big break,  and it was such an amazing family of people there.  A lot of them are still really good friends.

Lots of fans also know you from your 2005-12 run on CSI: Miami. Was there a big difference going to a nighttime series?

Oh, huge! Doing a soap opera, sometimes I had 75 pages of dialogue a day. On nighttime TV, the most you’re going to shoot is like eight pages, and that’s across the entire cast. But on a procedural, there’s a lot of science jargon. It’s like speaking another language. 

What was your time on the show like?

It was an amazing experience. We had such a great cast. The best part ways, even though what we were doing was heavy and dark , the actors had such great senses of humor! Each one should have been on a sitcom or dramedy, because they were all so funny and so much fun to be with. Going to set was really a treat. 

Do you have any personal career highlights?

I had great experiences doing movies of the week, like The Annette Funicello Story. Playing her was such a blessing. Even when John and I got to host Miss America [in 1997], that was incredible. I’ve been lucky to have jobs on two shows that had such longevity. I got to make a second family at both of them.

Did you get to know Annette Funicello?

She was on set the whole time! She shared a lot of her experiences, and her mom was like an encyclopedia about Disney, Walt Disney and everything. It was amazing!

You started young in the business, too.

My first job was a Del Monte green beans commercial, and my first voice-over job was for A&W Root Beer: I sang the jingle when I was 7. I did a bunch of print work and commercials, and then didn’t really work again until I was in my teens doing dinner theater shows. I was dancing and singing then, and started acting just as I was graduating from high school.

You also did beauty pageants.

I won the Miss Riverside County pageant and was supposed to go on to Miss California, but I ended up getting my first movie. So I gave up the title to the first runner-up and went to Italy to shoot a really bad movie, The Barbarians. But it didn’t matter; it was my first movie and I was so excited! 

Your first husband from 1992-94 was John O’Hurley. Was he anything like his J. Peterman character on Seinfeld?

[Laughs] There was a funny, pretentious character that he would go into at home when he was goofing around, even before he did Seinfeld. We’re still great friends. 

Did any moment change your life?

Three hundred people auditioned for my CSI role, but the executive producer happened to be a fan of my All My Children character. So getting [that soap opera] changed my life: I found my [second] husband, had my daughter and got a nighttime career from daytime.

You were wed to businessman Joe Cappuccio from 2010-14. What lessons did you take from your three marriages?

It’s more about forgiving yourself, no matter what somebody else did. It’s human to blame the other person. But when we process it, we see things we didn’t do the way we wish we had. I wasn’t really able, until the last five to 10 years, to say, “I need to not focus on anybody else. I have to look at things I don’t like about me.”

Eva LaRue and John Callahan
Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

How have you been doing since losing John Callahan?

It’s been a roller coaster, losing a co-parent and somebody who’s been a great friend for your entire adult life. He was still on my emergency contact lists and always wanted to know my travel plans. He’d check in when I landed and got back home again [to see if ] I was safe. Nobody else was caring on that level. I will miss that forever.

Was it a sudden passing?

Yes, he went to the hospital for routine heart procedures and was supposed to spend the night for surveillance, but he was so afraid of catching COVID that he insisted on leaving. The next day Kaya was going to stay with him, but the morning after he had a stroke and passed away that night. Somebody broke into his house four days later and stole his car, laptop, checkbooks and identity. They took out almost $80,000 in loans and $75,000 from one of his accounts before we could tell institutions that he had passed. The wagons are circling around this person. We just want it all to end, and to be able to grieve without the extra stress.

How did being a mom change your life? 

It changed everything. The reason being a parent isn’t easy is because we see so much of ourselves in our kids … some great things, and what we don’t like. When they become teenagers, all those things come back to bite you in the ass! You think, what am I not liking about her behavior? Something I do, probably! [Laughs]

Given your new show, have you been trying to find love in quarantine?

Right now it hasn’t been a priority, [and it won’t be] until I figure out if Kaya’s going away to college. With all that’s going on, we’re being trained to accept things. Instead of freaking out, it’s: “Just give us the task and we’ll get back to you.”  It’s kind of good! [Laughs]  

For this story and more, pick up the latest issue of Closer, on newsstands now. 

Reporting by Katie Bruno