LOS ANGELES (CBSNewYork) – Wednesday marks 40 years since actress Melody Thomas Scott began portraying Nikki Newman on the daytime drama “The Young and the Restless.”

Thomas Scott was just a 23-years-old actress when she debuted in 1979, reports CBS2’s Chris Martinez.

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Now she’s one of the undisputed queens of daytime TV.

“In some ways it seems like 40 years, but in many ways, certainly not,” she said. “It flew by.”

It was the role of a lifetime, and she almost didn’t take it.

The same week Thomas Scott was offered a part on Y&R, she was also offered a role on a sitcom. Her agent convinced her to join the soap.

“It’ll be fun for you, it’s only three years to do the soap, so of course I caved in and did what she said, thank God,” said Thomas Scott. “It was the right decision… and three years turned into six, turned into nine, turned into here we are at 40 which is unbelievable to me.”

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Over the decades Thomas Scott’s character has transformed from first working as a stripper to becoming one of Genoa City’s richest women.

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She’s also tackled serious social issues on the show, from Nikki’s struggle with alcoholism to her recent diagnosis with MS.

But it’s her super-couple status with co-star Eric Braden, who plays Victor Newman, that’s perhaps captivated fans the most for decades.

The on again-off again relationship is one of many storylines taking center stage in a special Nikki tribute show.

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“The longtime fans will just be in heaven and yeah they’ll cry,” said Thomas Scott. “It’ll make ’em cry… happy tears, sad tears… but that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Make ’em cry… make ’em happy!”