As fans of the CW reboot will recall, Kelley played Cristal for the drama’s entire first season, only for the actress to suddenly announce during the summer hiatus that she wouldn’t be returning for Season 2. (“I’ve got my life back,” she notably said at the time.)
Kelley’s version of the character was then killed off to make way for “the real Cristal,” played by Ana-Brenda Contreras… who then exited after Season 2 for personal reasons and was replaced by Daniella Alonso.
In an interview with TVInsider, Kelley — who now stars on ABC’s rom-com The Baker and the Beauty — offered more details on her exit, explaining that the role was more of a creative challenge than she had anticipated.
“I signed on before I ever read the script. There was a basic outline. I think I wasn’t up to the challenge of a nighttime soap,” Kelley said. “I wasn’t prepared for that genre. It wasn’t something I had experience in… I can say that as an artist, I didn’t dig as deep as I could have. I felt limited and I felt stuck.”
Kelley did add, however, that she was dissatisfied with some of the Season 1 material, noting that “the writing was boxing me in a little bit.” When the show ultimately seemed to decide “the best thing they felt they could do is start afresh,” she was let go from the series.
“That’s obviously a hard phone call to get as an actor… It took me by surprise,” Kelley said of the network’s decision to replace her. “It sent me into a lot of soul-searching and a realization that I could have dug deeper… I’m actually grateful to the execs at The CW who saw at the time what I couldn’t — that it was not the right fit.”
Not long after Kelley had broken the news of her own departure, CW boss Mark Pedowitz maintained that the decision was creatively driven, adding that it was made midway through the show’s first season.