You’ve spoken before about your sister, who is a lesbian. You’ve said that she didn’t inform how you portrayed Bianca, but did growing up with her influence your decision to be that history-making daytime actress to tackle a coming out story?
Absolutely. I definitely didn't want to play her (Riegel’s sister). But in talking to her, she gave me permission to play it my own way and not worry about having to represent everybody, because it's not possible. She gave me a lot of freedom in my portrayal, which was great, and exactly what I needed.
I talked to her about what it was like for her. And of course she's my sister and I love her so much. What she goes through is so important to me. She told me about her feelings and how difficult it was, and it helped me understand my character and what my character was going through, so it was really good research. I was fighting my sister’s battles basically.
And sisters are protective of each other.
Exactly. The story was really personal for me and continues to be. I don’t have someone in my family who has been victim of violent sexual attacks - thank God. But Bianca losing the baby and the baby switch and all that stuff -- that had to come out of my imagination mostly. But I understood the character and loved her and was able to take her through all those things.
You left AMC for a while. Did it have to do at all with the turn that Bianca's storyline had taken?
It was not the story that I was told we were going to tell. Obviously, marriage equality is still a big issue -- unfortunately. It was during the Prop 8 time and it was the first time I felt the tide was turning and we could actually get some marriage equality. It was a really exciting time and I was debating whether or not to come back to the show and then they pitched me this beautiful story about Bianca being in love and getting married, a real same sex couple on daytime. It kind of felt like the coming out story all over again, or the next generation of coming out story. I was immediately on board, and the fact that this beautiful actress Tamara Braun was playing…
Your love interest! She’s fanatastic.
She’s so good! I was like, “This is going to be amazing.” Then, they just had something else in mind entirely, which was really a more conventional soap opera story of affairs and cheating, and then Reese wasn’t really gay. She was interested in my brother-in-law, which is kind of gross, and they made out in the church where we got married.
Oh yeah. That’s never good.
We got annulled by text message less than 48 hours after we've been married. It was all very messy, and I thought, weirdly, and argument against what we were fighting for.
Reese and Bianca in happier times.
It was very upsetting. At that point I just didn’t feel listened to. There are so many regimes in these soap operas because people get burned out. It’s grueling work. That particular writer who was involved -- I think he just thought my input wasn't really, you know, welcomed. I understand. If I were a writer I’m sure I wouldn’t really want an actor talking off my ear about what they feel their character should be doing. Actors, for the most part, maybe don’t understand the more broad perspective. But, it was tough for me to watch my character going through that when I thought we were telling another story.