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'Days of Our Lives' star just plain Matt back home

By JODY ALLARD

Staff writer

A knee injury in his senior year of high school brought about the sudden end of Matt Cedeno’s promising athletic career but led the handsome football player down an entirely different path.

Now a fixture on one of daytime TV’s most beloved soap operas, “Days of Our Lives,” the Thomas Jefferson High School graduate and hometown boy looks to that injury as the turning point that got him where he is today.

“I didn’t originally plan on going to Highline Community College,” said Cedeno. “I was looking at a university to play football or wrestling.”

After reconstructive surgery on his knee, Cedeno’s athletic scholarships dried up and he spent a few years attending Highline and living at home with his dad and stepmother.

A chance encounter with a talent agent on the street led Cedeno to modeling gigs in Italy, Spain and New York City. But modeling wasn’t where Cedeno wanted to be.

“I learned about acting and more aspects of the entertainment industry,” said Cedeno. “I set my sights on that and moved to Los Angeles.”

It wasn’t all easy-going for Cedeno, who enrolled in acting classes and worked as a waiter to get by. Waiting tables turned into something else for the future soap star, who met his longtime girlfriend five years ago on Valentine’s Day.

“I was waiting tables and she came over to the restaurant and we discovered we lived in the same building,” Cedeno said.

His girlfriend, a professional dancer who has toured with Britney Spears, invited Cedeno to a party she was having at her house that night –– and, the rest, he says, is history.

“We kind of go back (to that restaurant) every year for dinner,” said Cedeno.

Things were not as smooth-sailing for Cedeno on the acting front. It was close to two years before Cedeno got his first call from “Days of our Lives.”

It’s no easy process to get cast on “Days,” NBC’s stalwart soap. After that first general meeting with a casting director, it was six months before Cedeno was called in for an audition. Then came a callback, a reading with the show’s producers and a screen test.

Cedeno was ultimately cast as Brandon Walker four years ago. His character has seen his share of trials and tribulations, but Cedeno said Brandon is currently involved in his best storyline –– one only a daytime talk show guest, or a soap writer, could dream up. Brandon, after having pursued Samantha for years, finally lands the relationship of his dreams, when he has a one-night stand with Lexie. Lexie ends up pregnant, Samantha intercepts the DNA paternity test results, and no one knows who is the father. Oh, yeah, and to add a little spice, Lexie’s husband, Abe, could be Brandon’s father.

“It could be a really twisted family circle thing going on,” said Cedeno.

For devout followers of the show, Cedeno has a little bit of a spoiler to offer, although he claims not to know much about the future of the show’s storylines.

“Finally, after years, they are going to address the Brandon-Abe issue, whether or not he is the father,” said Cedeno.

Being on the show has been a dream-come-true for Cedeno, who said he is friends with his co-workers “on and off the set.” Still, he hopes to pursue other projects in the future, such as primetime TV or movies.

“The crystal ball’s a little blurry, it’s hard to tell exactly,” said Cedeno. “I would like to do other projects, just have a variety of the type of work that i do.”

There is already a buzz around Cedeno, who was named one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People for 2002.

The honor, which Cedeno said “was out of the blue,” netted more than a little joking from his family, friends and co-workers.

Regardless of what the future holds, Cedeno said he does his best to visit his family at least two or three times a year. With his dad, stepmother and stepbrother living in Federal Way, it’s a place close to his heart, he said.

Staff writer Jody Allard: 925-5565 and jallard@fedwaymirror.com

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