‘The Young And The Restless’ Star Julia Pace Mitchell Speaks Out On Returning As Sofia For Neil’s Memorial

Darius McCrary, Angell Conwell, Julia Pace Mitchell, Bryton James, Tonya Lee Williams, Kristoff St John, Christel Khalil Hensley attend CBS' 'The Young and the Restless' 38th Anniversary cake cutting.
Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

This week, The Young and the Restless honored the life of Neil Winters after his sudden death via a massive stroke. Actor Kristoff St. John, the man who portrayed Neil Winters, passed away on February 3. He died in his home, at the age of 52. The actor’s death precipitated by heart disease that was exacerbated by alcohol.

Several actors reprised their roles on Y&R for this tribute to Neil, and among these was Julia Pace Mitchell. She brought Neil’s ex-wife — and the mother of his son, Moses (Dax Randall) — back to the canvas during the story arc. Recently, the actress discussed her return to the role of Sofia with TV Insider.

The actress revealed that returning to the soap helped her with her own grief over St. John’s death. She also explained that — like many other daytime newcomers who had worked with St. John — he had supported her. He took Mitchell under his wing when she began at Y&R as a newbie to the genre, she detailed.

Mitchell said, “Kristoff made me feel so incredibly comfortable and welcome. I always felt safe — like he had my back, no matter what. He was so good at it making me feel comfortable. I learned so much from being around him.”

When she got the call from the show about returning for the episodes honoring Neil, the actress said that she was still in denial over St. John’s death. She had hoped it was a hoax, but when Y&R began making plans for the memorial, she realized that the man who’d seemed larger than life was truly gone.

“Someone from the show called. That’s when it felt real. I started crying on the phone. I was happy to be involved, but it’s such a reality check that he’s gone.”

To prepare for her return as Sofia, the actress said that she went back and reviewed their old episodes together. Once she returned, Mitchell said it quickly felt like being with family again. She even met Shemar Moore — the actor portraying Malcolm Winters — who wasn’t the person who played Malcolm when she had worked on Y&R.

Mitchell also revealed an interesting tale about working with St. John. This moment took place ahead of their first romantic scene together. She shared, “I had a picture on my phone of Kristoff when [he had] put on some colorful underwear, which he wore when we had a love scene. It was one of the first times I had to make out with someone on daytime TV! The print on it was so funny! He made me feel so comfortable.”

Ultimately, the actress is open to more visits to Genoa City as Sofia as the show continues the story of the Winters family. She noted that there are many single moms like Sofia in the world, and they need more representation on TV.

The Inquisitr‘s daily recap showed that in today’s episode, Sofia had some kind words to say to Devon (Bryton James) and Lily (Christel Khalil) about their father — and left things on a positive note.