Alumni Profiles

Young and Content
Michael Graziadei '01 loves to be hated on daytime TV

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Photographer: Robert Voets/CBS

In the decade since Michael Graziadei '01 left UNH, he's been married and divorced twice, battled an addiction to pornography, lost his memory, gone to jail, and suffered a tormented relationship with his mom. Who happens to be just 14 years his senior. Sound like a soap opera? It is. Since 2004, Graziadei has played Danny Romalotti Jr., bad boy of The Young and the Restless" on CBS.

"It's probably one of the best jobs any actor can have," says Graziadei of his work on daytime television's top-rated drama. The nearly 9-to-5 job delivers steady income, the holy grail of many Hollywood aspirants. Not that it's dull. His castmates, the oversexed and intermingled families of fictional Genoa City, have been like real family to Graziadei. He calls the soap "like college for acting"while hanging out on the set, he's picked up tips on how to learn your lines fast, as well as blocking, lighting and other stagecraft.

Danny Romalotti was 16 when the 24-year-old Graziadei was first cast in the series; since then his character has nominally tried to start a career in photography but just can't seem to stay out of trouble. "Being the bad guy is always more fun than being the good guy," he says. "If people hate you, then you're doing your job."

Photo CBS
Michael Graziadei '01, playing Daniel Romalotti, with his screen mother Phyllis Newman (Michelle Stafford) on an episode of "The Young and the Restless."

Photographer: Robert Voets/CBS
Michael Graziadei '01, left, playing a werewolf enthusiast, fights with Langston (Laurence Fishburne, right) in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

As one of 30-plus characters on the show, Graziadei may not be in scenes for days or weeks at a time, which has allowed him to appear as a guest on other television series, including "CSI: NY," "Criminal Minds" and "NCIS." He also starred in the 2009 surf film "The Outside," which he produced with some friends, and had a recurring role on the Starz series "Crash" with the late Dennis Hopper. These guest appearances are an opportunity to branch out, a wise career move in an industry that has been losing soap operas lately at the rate of about one a year. "The Young and the Restless," however, has been renewed through the 201314 season. "If daytime soaps are a sinking ship, we're probably on the top deck," he says.

Born in Germany, Graziadei attended high school in Nashua, N.H., where he acted in local plays. At UNH, ill-fated forays into art, music and computer science (where the math looked like "hieroglyphics") led him to the theater and dance department.

"I took Acting One as a goof," says Graziadei. "It wasn't easy, but I absolutely fell in love with it." Graziadei majored in communications but took every acting class he could. "It was a great preparation for getting out here. I felt like I was ahead of the curve," says Graziadei, who has been nominated for an Emmy. The proud owner of a new condo, he's fresh out of a long-term relationship and declares himself "single and ready to find that next person I'm going to spend the rest of my life with."

His parents, Silvio and Helene, were always supportive but expressed predictable parental concern when Graziadei tended bar while he pursued acting. Even though Danny is not the doctor or lawyer Graziadei promised his father he would play on TV, he says his parents are now "two of the proudest people on the planet."

Photo CBS
Michael Graziadei '01, left, on an episode of CSI: NY, with Gary Sinise, who plays Detective Mac Taylor.
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