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‘The Bay’ Show Runner Gregori J. Martin Talks Going From Soap Fan to Emmy-Winning Soap Creator

Plus, everything we know about CBS and the NAACP collaborating on a new Black soap opera

Soap operas have been declared dead and dying more times than we can count, and like the characters on General Hospital, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives, the genre refuses to obey — And The Bay‘s Daytime Emmy-winning director, producer and writer Gregori J. Martin is doing his part to support the resistance.

MUST-READ: Jacqueline MacInnes Wood of ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ Admits Her Character Steffy Is “A Little Unhinged”

Now, CBS and the NAACP are collaborating on The Gates, the first Black soap in 35 years, while a new digital drama series, The Blvd, is in production. Could this be the beginning of a soap renaissance?

With the genre making news, FIRST for Women decided this was the perfect time to catch up with soap superfan turned Emmy-winning director, producer and writer Gregori J. Martin – whose indie digital drama The Bay has done more than last the test of time since premiering in 2010.

Starring Kristos Andrews, Mary Beth Evans, the late Jacklyn Zeman, Tristan Rogers, Brandon Beemer, A Martinez and other daytime favorites, the Emmy-winning little soap engine that could recently got to compete with the big network soaps at the 50th Annual Daytime Emmys.

Gregori J. Martin turns his dreams to gold with The Bay

Gregori J. Martin
Gregori J. MartinAngela Weiss

A lot of people dream of making it big in Hollywood and winning their first Oscar. At 16 years old, Gregori J. Martin sat in the cheap seats at the Daytime Emmys, dreaming of soap opera excellence.

“I worked on Another World and General Hospital, but long before that, I was a fan in the top balcony, looking down at my favorites winning their awards,” recounts Martin, who’s worked on both sides of the camera. “I would always say, ‘Oh my goodness, I really can’t wait to be up on that stage!’”

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Martin fulfilled that dream when he and The Bay accepted the Daytime Creative Arts Emmy for New Approaches Drama Series in 2015, and he wasn’t done. In 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020, The Bay won Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama Series and over the years, Martin has also taken home two Emmys for directing and five for writing.

Along the way, The Bay stars like leading man, director and executive producer Kristos Andrews, Mary Beth Evans and Jade Harlow have also nabbed their own performer awards.

With digital and streaming entertainment now a major force in TV, The Bay made history last year by becoming the first independent drama to be in contention with long-running big guns for the categories of Outstanding Daytime Drama Series, Outstanding Directing Team and Outstanding Writing Team.

“It feels amazing,” Martin says of The Bay’s 2023 nominations. “I’m super honored. I’m very grateful to the universe – and to everybody who supported the show.”

The Bay show runner shares credit for his success

Lilly Melgar, Gregori J. Martin and Kristos Andrews, 2018
Lilly Melgar, Gregori J. Martin and Kristos Andrews, 2018Getty

While The Bay didn’t take home the Daytime Emmy in 2023, its nominations were made all the sweeter by the fact that Martin shared them with his inspiration-turned-colleague, Wendy Riche – who’s known for having led General Hospital through the 90s and launching its late 90s spin-off, Port Charles.

“I believe in the laws of attraction, and my 16-year-old mind believed that I was going to make it to the Emmys – but for it to actually happen?” Martin marvels. “And to be doing it with the iconic Wendy Riche is amazing!”

Martin confesses he tried to get Riche onboard from the beginning but couldn’t get her to join The Bay until 2016.

“It took us winning a few Emmys before she said, ‘Okay, maybe this show is good enough for me’,” chuckles Martin, who is the CEO/Chairman of Lany Entertainment and refuses to take all the credit for The Bay’s ongoing success. “It’s my team, 100 percent.”

In addition to Riche, that team includes Andrews, who has been by Martin’s side as executive producer since the show’s launch and won the directing Emmy with him in 2020. It also includes a host of soap industry veterans working on both sides of the camera.

“It takes an army, and we love each other,” Martin says. “We enjoy creating together and keeping these characters and these stories alive, as a team.”

The Bay creator Gregori J. Martin shares what soap vet Wendy Riche taught him

Gregori J. Martin and Wendy Riche, 2023
Gregori J. Martin and Wendy Riche, 2023Getty

When Riche joined The Bay, Martin admits she helped him find a bit of balance amid all the gasps and cliffhanger moments for which soaps are known.

“I’m all for the thrills,” he explains. “I grew up watching Santa Barbara, which was all action, and that was my thing. Some of my favorite memories of soaps were the over-the-top storylines.”

Riche, however, spent her General Hospital run crafting emotional and socially conscious stories like Stone’s death from AIDS, Karen’s sexual abuse and addiction and Maxie receiving young BJ’s heart – all of which still come up and even propel drama today.

“Wendy knows how to pull on the heartstrings,” Martin raves. “She kind of brought me down and said, ‘Hold on. If you’re going to do something, there has to be a reason.’ So anytime I would say, ‘Okay, I want to do this storyline,’ she would say ‘Why?’ She reminds me to make sure I have an answer.”

How to #BingeTheBay and see what it’s all about

During The Bay’s eight seasons of sex, lies, scandals and redemption, the rich and fabulous residents of Bay City just keep taking the hits – and all that drama has turned out plenty of Daytime Emmy gold.

With The Bay season 9 set to begin production in mid-April, there are over 100 The Bay episodes available for on-demand viewing, now. You can #BingeTheBay via Peacock, Tubi, Prime Video, Popstar! TV, The Roku Channel and other streaming sites. 

Martin, who got his start making indie movies, also has other projects in the works.

“I’m part of the producing team of a new Woody Harrelson film, Lips Like Sugar, and an animation with Dennis Quaid, Tim Meadows and a really great cast,” he teases. “I’m really excited.”

Do The Gates and The Blvd mark a soap renaissance?

Vincent Irizarry, 2024
Vincent Irizarry, 2024 @granimostudios/Instagram

Having previously worked on Breakout – which rose to #1 action movie on Tubi last summer and stars Andrews – Martin is also excited to see his collaborator on that project, Devanny Pinn, bring her own indie soap, The Blvd, to life. The six-episode series about a boutique public relations agency promises to take viewers behind the scenes of the red carpets, press junkets and photo shoots of awards season.

Then there’s The Gates – the Black soap opera currently in development for CBS that boasts Emmy-winner Michele Val Jean at the helm.

“It’s a great rejuvenation to our industry!” Martin says. “And who better than Michele Val Jean? She’s just so talented and a dear friend. I had the honor to work with her briefly on The Bay. She was a big part of the suicide story with Lilly Melgar’s character, Janice, and worked with Wendy for many years at General Hospital. They told some great, socially relevant stories.”

Val Jean was actually set to collaborate with The Bay team again…only to be snapped up to showrun The Gates. That said, with Martin’s experience sure to be invaluable to anyone trying to dream up a new soap in today’s market, a reunion could still happen.

“I’d love to work on The Gates,” Martin says. “I don’t think that would stop me from doing The Bay – and yes, I’ve expressed that to Michele.”

Everything we know sbout the new Black soap opera, The Gates

This week, production began on The Blvd, which stars soap hunks Vincent Irizarry, Jordi Vilasuso and Adam Huss. CBS, the NAACP and showrunner Michele Val Jean, however, are still just developing The Gates – the first new Black network soap since Generations.

Following the lives of a wealthy Black family in a posh, gated community, the drama will be produced by a CBS Studios NAACP production venture in partnership with P&G Studios – which is a division of Procter & Gamble, a company with a deep history in soap operas.

The Gates will be everything we love about daytime drama, from a new and fresh perspective,” promises Sheila Ducksworth, president of the CBS Studios NAACP venture. “This series will salute an audience that has been traditionally underserved, with the potential to be a groundbreaking moment for broadcast television. With multi-dimensional characters, juicy storylines and Black culture front and center, The Gates will have impactful representation.”

As fans clamor for more The Gates casting news and updates, CBS is also set to host the 51st Annual Daytime Emmys on June 7 this year – and The Bay is ready for another round of competition with The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful.

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