Kristian-Joy Alfonso was welcomed into the world on September 5 in the Boston suburb of Brockton, Massachusetts, by her parents, Gino and Joanne, and her older sister, Lisa. Always smiling even as a baby, Kristian’s agreeable nature and sunny disposition warmed the hearts of family and strangers alike. Kristian’s parents recall that their youngest child’s “star quality” was apparent very early on. Her father recounts stories of people staring at the little beauty in the grocery store even when she was only a few years old.
As a young girl, Kristian developed a passion for both ice skating and dancing. Always the go-getter, Kristian became an accomplished athlete, winning the gold medal in figure skating at the Junior Olympics when she was only 13 years old and establishing herself as a strong contender for the upcoming Olympic Games. That dream was shattered when Kristian was injured in a tobogganing accident that resulted in a severe multiple fracture of her landing leg. Sadly, Kristian was forced into early retirement, as was the toboggan, which Kristian’s father is said to have chopped up for fire wood.
Prior to the accident, Kristian had been approached at one of her competitive events by the Wilhelmina modeling agency, but at the time she was far more interested in her ice skating and dancing so she declined the opportunity. After hanging up her skates, however, she decided to give modeling a shot after all and Wilhelmina enthusiastically signed her to a contract. Kristian’s face soon graced the covers of over 30 international magazines, including Vogue and Bazaar, all by the time she was just 15 years old.
Before long, Kristian was in search of a new challenge. This time she chose acting. Her very first role at the tender age of 16 had her starring opposite Rock Hudson in the NBC movie, The Starmaker. After completing the film, Kristian was asked to audition for the role of Hope Williams on Days of our Lives. But young Kristian wasn’t yet ready to pick up and leave home in the event she won the role (not to mention she was petrified of L.A.’s infamous earthquakes), so Tammy Taylor was chosen to play Hope instead. Little did Kristian know that she would make the character of Hope Williams famous only a couple of years later.
In 1983, Kristian was again tapped to audition for the role of Hope. It seemed serendipitous that the role should open up again, and this time — older and more confident — Kristian decided to go for it. Poor Kristian thought for sure she had blown it when she tripped and fell down the staircase in the Horton house during her screen test. But quite to the contrary, instead of costing her the role, her endearing clumsiness so captivated the producers that they knew right away no one but Kristian would do. Soap opera history was made that day as Kristian was cast in the role of Hope Williams, a character whom she would make undeniably hers and hers alone in the coming years.
Kristian became a fan favorite almost immediately after coming on board at Days of our Lives, but living the life of a popular soap star was not always as glamorous as it seemed. Kristian recalls that during the eighties, her schedule was very often grueling. Thirteen-hour work days were not uncommon for her, and for some storylines, she was often called on to memorize upwards of 100 pages of dialogue daily. But as always, Kristian relished the challenge and faced it head on. And just as Hope’s fascinating lifestyle took her to all corners of the globe, Kristian was privileged to experience those new adventures right alongside her alter ego. Whether racing backwards down the raging Kern River with nothing but a life vest to keep her afloat, or diving in the waters off the coast of Florida, or performing against the backdrop of romantic cities such as London, Stockholm and New Orleans, Kristian never gave less than her best and her adoring public couldn’t seem to get enough of her.
In 1987, after four successful years as beloved heroine Hope Williams Brady, Kristian decided it was time to say goodbye to Days of our Lives and pursue other avenues. During her time away from Days, Kristian portrayed the sultry Pilar Ortega on the primetime drama, Falcon Crest. She also guest-starred on several network television programs including Full House and Who’s the Boss? But Days of our Lives was still home to Kristian so when the producers asked her to return for a brief 13-week stint in 1990, she happily agreed, much to the delight of her fans everywhere.
Kristian wrapped her second run on Days just in time to give birth in October of 1990 to her son, Gino, who is named after her father. Even motherhood was not enough to slow her down, however. In addition to spending as much time as possible bonding with her boy, Kristian continued to nurture her successful acting career by branching out into primetime and films. Aaron Spelling was so impressed with Kristian’s performance on Melrose Place as bitchy, high-priced madam, Lauren Etheridge, that he parlayed her guest appearance into a regular recurring role. Kristian also starred in movies such as Blindfold: Acts of Obsession, with Shannen Doherty, and Army of One, with Dolph Lundgren.
In 1994, Days of our Lives was once again beckoning Kristian home. This time she returned as an amnesiac named “Gina” who was ultimately revealed to be the long-presumed-dead Hope. In this most recent run on Days of our Lives, Kristian has had the opportunity to truly test her mettle as an actress in a way few other daytime performers have, portraying simultaneously the multiple roles of Hope, Gina-within-Hope, and an entirely separate character, Princess Gina. Kristian has demonstrated a remarkable ability to make each character distinct and real to the audience, delighting cast, crew, and fans alike with her talent and accomplishment.
On October 6, 2001, Kristian married long-time beau Danny Daggenhurst in a spur of the moment private ceremony at her home. Kristian and Danny, along with their sons Gino and Spartan, welcomed the most recent addition to their family on July 18, 2002. His name is Jack.
Surely the next challenge awaits Kristian just around the corner, and as always she will face it with her usual optimism and determination to succeed. In the meantime, she continues to prove herself everyday to be one of the most skillful and talented actresses in television, and indisputably one of the most beautiful (Soap Opera Digest declared her so three times). Still, Kristian’s greatest success is likely that of being a devoted mother, a loving sister, daughter, and friend, as well as a woman who is compassionate and appreciative of the support of all of the fans who have watched and adored her through the years.