Salem will soon be saying bye-bye to Belle. Martha Madison, who took over the role of Belle Black in 2004, has decided to leave DAYS OF OUR LIVES. Although she has already finished taping, because of how far ahead the Peacock soap shoots, the actress’ final episode won’t air until early November.
After her initial four-year run on DAYS, Madison returned for the soap’s 50th-anniversary celebration in 2015 and continued to pop back for various stints in the years that followed, earning a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 2019. But after being told that she would be written off the show again for budgetary reasons, she decided not to continue appearing on a recurring basis.
“Honestly, the writing had been on the wall since they squashed the EJ and Belle story so abruptly, so I wasn’t fully surprised” Madison confided to TV Insider. “But then weeks later as I was saying my goodbyes to everyone, I randomly got another script. I was so confused because it indicated that Belle was staying in town, but nobody had spoken to me about that. Ultimately, they said they’d like to stick around to ‘occasionally do legal stuff’ and ‘then you never know what might happen after that,’ and that was just such a lightbulb moment for me.
“In my opinion, Belle was never meant to be a peripheral character,” she continued. “She is the only child of Marlena and John, and after 19 years of coming and going from the show, it just finally clicked for me that they were never going to showcase the character the way I felt she should be. So I declined the opportunity to recur and shot that last episode in April. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful to have played Belle for two decades, but I’m ready for more. It was just time to leave.”
With her full-time job as vice president of the recruitment agency One Haus, Madison is grateful that she can make decisions like this and wait for opportunities that feel right. “Whatever I do next,” she said, “I am hoping it’s going to be with people who are passionate about making something really special in a collaborative environment.”
And that still includes potentially returning to DAYS as Belle at some point in the future, as long as she could be assured of working regularly. “It would need to be because they were going to tell compelling stories with Belle in a pivotal position in those stories,” Madison declared. “I’ve spent my entire life, from six years old, training to be an actress. I want to act.”