As hellcat-turned-heroine Sami Brady, Alison Sweeney drove the action on “Days of Our Lives” for 22 years, but she didn’t receive her first Daytime Emmy nomination until this year.

“There is an interesting parallel,” says Sweeney, who exited the NBC sudser in October. “Sami would think something was never going to work out and just as she was walking away she’d get that opportunity. This feels the same. If I were only to get nominated once, I’m really glad it’s happening this year.”

Sweeney won a special fan award for playing America’s favorite villain at the 2002 Daytime Emmys, but this year is different because she’s being acknowledged by her peers.

The actress will fly in from Vancouver where she’s wrapping up her dual gigs as executive producer and lead in the Hallmark Channel film “Radio Hype.” She’s just in time to attend not only the awards broadcast, but also the lead actress nominee luncheon hosted by the previous year’s winner (Eileen Davidson also of “Days”).

Sweeney’s reel is the “fake out” episode in which Sami’s husband fantasizes her furious reaction to his infidelity. “It showed a lot of range,” she says. “I was really proud of the work everyone put into it.”

Win or lose, the multi-tasking star is leaving daytime with something far more valuable than Emmy gold.

“The experience I’ve had on daytime has served me so well,” says Sweeney, who has become a host, producer, director and book author since first playing Sami. “It’s where I learned to handle things quickly. I’ve been lucky enough to work with people who’ve helped me get better.”