Fresh off her first Daytime Emmy® win, Victoria Konefal has no plans to slow down. Best known for her role as ‘Ciara Brady’ on the NBC soap opera Days of our Lives, Konefal took home the trophy for Outstanding Younger Performer in a Drama Series at the 48th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on June 25th.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, the actress now calls sunny Los Angeles home. While she’s always had aspirations to be in front of the camera, it wasn’t until the 4th grade that she decided to pursue her passion. After she went on a class trip to see an Off-Broadway production of The Hobbit, she was mesmerized. She sought out the director, who invited her to audition for a production of The South Pacific. Konefal booked the role, and went on to perform with the theater company for six years.
When asked to describe herself in three words, she says “adventurous, spontaneous and hard-working”. At the end of the day, Konefal’s message is clear: never give up, and never stop believing in yourself.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Konefal via Zoom. Read below as we discuss her roots in New York, her cross country move to Los Angeles, taking home her Emmy, and more!
You’re from Brooklyn, how does that play into your life and career?
I loved growing up in New York. The energy of the city and having access to so much culture really helped to shape me. It gave me a creative outlet for what I know I love to do, acting. Theater was very accessible to me there, so it wasn’t hard for me to be myself. New York is a very open and accepting community. Growing up there helped me become open and accepting towards others as well. It was really a blessing. I loved it and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Who did you look up to? Biggest influences?
I looked up to my big sister a lot. She started a family when she was young, and always had so much on her plate. She handled it with grace and bravery. She is one of my influences, and she helped me gain the courage to do what I love to do.
In terms of acting, Angelina Jolie has always been very high on the list of actresses that I look up to. She is a major inspiration to me. After watching her performances in Gia and Girl, Interrupted, I was fully enamored by her.
How was your experience attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York City? I know a lot of notable people, such as Jennifer Aniston, Ansel Elgort and Timothee Chalamet went there.
If you’re not into academia and you’re a creative soul, you’re probably going to struggle in the education system. It was a blessing to be able to go to a school that focused on shaping our creativity. Of course we focused on academics too, but we had a great balance.
I don’t think I’d be where I am today if I hadn’t gone there. Senior year, we had to perform a monologue in front of different agencies. I was scouted by 11 to 13 agencies and, because of that, I found my first agent who helped push me to move to LA. I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason.
How was your move to Los Angeles?
It was challenging. I moved here when I was very young. I had just turned 19, and I didn’t know anyone. I drove to LA from Brooklyn, which is a whole story in itself. I could write a book about that trip!
As my backup plan, I had been going to school for Criminal Law and Psychology. Then I booked my first gig, so I dropped out. I thought, ‘You know what, after I graduate, I’m going to move to LA. I’ll probably get a job as a waitress and audition my booty off. So, why not take that first step now and try while I’m hot on the trail?’
Once I arrived in LA, I booked a couple of Lifetime films, a couple of indies, and an episode of Modern Family.
I love Modern Family!
Right?! It was so much fun and I couldn’t believe I was on the show. Things started falling into place.
What was your first movie?
My first movie was Fog City. It has actually yet to come out, but it will be released soon. Post production works in mysterious ways. I was the lead antagonist, portraying a psychotic and murderous 18-year-old. It was great! We shot on location in Massachusetts, and the whole experience is one I’ll cherish forever.
You seem like such a nice, kind soul, how was it playing a murderer?
Well, we all have a dark side. There’s a yin to every yang. I’ve always been drawn to horror films. I love American Psycho. That’s another reason why I love acting so much. I’m such a happy sunshine-filled person, but I get to explore different sides of myself in different roles. I have the most fun when I get the chance to challenge myself and reach into my actress toolbox to see what I’m capable of.
How was it getting your first Emmy nomination?
It was a crazy experience because my best friend was also nominated in the same category. We’re so supportive of each other, and always rooting for each other. I got a phone call from her, and she said, ‘Hey girl, guess who got nominated for an Emmy? Both of us!’
We spent the whole day celebrating. It was surreal. We both love the rain, and it rained that day. You know it doesn’t rain in Los Angeles often! It was beautiful, and one of the best days of my life, no pun intended. The little girl inside of me was so proud to be honored in such a way at such a young age.
Fast forward to today, you just won an Emmy!
Yes, I was nominated again and I won! It was absolutely insane. I’m still on cloud 9. Every so often I remember the win and I get this overwhelming wave of gratitude. I’ve been manifesting this since I was born. This is what I have been praying for, and it came true.
My entire house is like a floral shop right now, full of congratulatory flowers. Looking around and seeing my loved ones being so happy for me is all that I need. I don’t need a big award, I just need the love that I’m getting from the people that I care about. I’m so happy.
Can you describe that feeling of winning?
It’s indescribable. They called my name and I couldn’t believe it, there’s a video of that moment on my Instagram. My sister, my best friends, my publicist and my manager were all there. They didn’t even finish saying my name, they said ‘Vic…’ and everyone started screaming together in a massive uproar. I had my head in my hands, it didn’t feel real. I still can’t describe the feeling. I don’t even know what it is…it’s like a giant bubble of warmth bursts inside of you and fills every single one of your pores.
How does that motivate you? What are you most excited for now?
The Oscar next. I’m excited to see what else I can accomplish. This win was pretty major. In the most humble way possible, it is a big deal and I accomplished it. If I’m capable of this at the age of 24, so what else can I do? How far can I go? I’m excited to see what the future has in store. I have such a hard-working team that supports me and has so much faith in me. I want to see what we can accomplish together.
What do you feel when you act?
I feel like I’m at home, and where I’m supposed to be. I can’t imagine a world in which I don’t pursue acting. I don’t know what I’d do. It feels really comfortable and really natural. It’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
You say you work really hard on your body, what’s your workout regimen?
I’ve been obsessively working out for the past three years because I find so much solace and peace when I’m doing it. It’s not about ‘Oh, I need to look good.’ It makes me feel good on the inside.
Recently, since the world opened up again, I’ve been taking different classes. I’ve been doing Soulcycle, kickboxing classes at Rumble, and pilates. Before the pandemic, I was such an introverted homebody. It’s a little uncharacteristic for me to love group classes, but now it’s so nice to feel everyone else’s motivation and energy.
At the gym, I’ll do 30 minutes of cardio. Then it’s leg day every day for me, I hop on the squat machines until I’m tired.
What are you listening to when you workout?
It depends on my mood. Recently, I’ve been very into European disco music, like CASCADA. I listen to heavy hip-hop and rock and roll. Things that are really loud and have a hard baseline and guitar, it makes me feel like a badass.
Tell us about being one of the leads in the Lifetime movie The Wrong Crush.
At that time, I was on a roll of booking lead roles. I had The Wrong Crush, Deadly Exchange, Circus Kane, and Fog City. It felt like a dream. The Wrong Crush was a lot of fun to film. We shot on location in the mountains in LA, and it was one of my first movies that I got to really throw myself into.
Fondest memories from shooting Modern Family? It looks like so much fun on set.
Oh, it was! We shot for two days, so it was quite a quick turn around. I got to have this thick Russian accent, which is one of my favorite accents to do. My favorite moment was when we were shooting outside at a house location, and the paparazzi had confused me with Sarah Hyland. I was standing with my back turned to them and we had the same hair color and style. They were trying to get a photo of her, and I heard somebody go ‘oh the paparazzi!’ I went, ‘where?!’ When I turned around, they got the most unflattering photo of me! I love that moment, I think it’s hilarious. It was my first paparazzi photo, and they weren’t even trying to get me!
How would you describe your fashion sense?
I think fashion is fun and I like to be bold. I really don’t care what anyone thinks of the way I dress because I dress to make myself feel sexy, comfortable, and powerful. I wear a lot of black and leather. I love a good jacket and boots, I could die in a pair of thigh-high boots. My style is a good depiction of who I am in terms of where I’ve lived, it’s New York meets LA. It’s summery, but with New York winter fashion intertwined.
You’re an advocate for the environment. What makes you want to give back to the planet?
Environmental conservation is really important to me, and it always has been, even before I was educated on the topic. When I was younger, I was always drawn to nature and animals. Once I learned how bad the state of the planet is, I knew I had to do something to help. We all fall victim to the bystander effect, ‘Oh, I don’t have to recycle, because someone else is doing it.’ But if everyone thought like that, then no one would recycle or make a difference. Since I have somewhat of a platform, I want to use it to educate others and raise awareness. We have one planet, and we have to take care of it.
What are your goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
I want to get back into films, that’s my next goal. I want to land a movie role that will really inspire me. Something badass, along the lines of an Angelina Jolie film or Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. I want a movie that will light a fire in me that’s so large it can’t be put out.
Anything else you’d like to let us know? Last piece of advice?
Never ever give up! That’s the one piece of advice I’d give to anybody. Don’t give up because you never know when a door will open. You could walk away and the door will open three seconds later, but you already walked away. Keep believing in yourself. No one else is going to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. Never stop.