BY Michael Fairman
April 12 2010 12:50 PM ET
Eden Riegel (pictured) is one busy gal. Hot on the heels of the big news of her new role as DA Heather Stevens on The Young and the Restless (she debuts April 20), the actress who embodied the most recognizable gay character in the history of soaps — All My Children's Bianca Montgomery — is spreading her wings yet again ... this time, in sketch comedy with the famed L.A. ACME Comedy Theatre. Eden is set to perform this coming Saturday, as the host of ACME Saturday Night.
But before we get into her decision to try sketch comedy, Riegel wanted to talk about another project close to her heart ... the No H8 Campaign. The actress has added her face and likeness to the celebrity photo campaign, which advocates against California's same-sex marriage ban.
“It is a fine-tuned machine, and it takes a total of 10 minutes," she says. "They put the No H8 on your face and stick the duct tape over your mouth, which I have to say was not the most pleasant thing I have ever experienced. I am happy to say, I have never experienced it before, not even in a soap opera. [Laughs] But they are very careful to put it on lightly so it does not take off a whole layer of skin when they pull it off. The lighting is amazing, and Adam Bouska does amazing photos and makes everyone look really nice."
Riegel was in New York filming All My Children when California's anti–gay marriage measure Proposition 8 passed — "That was a huge step backward," she says — and, shortly after, took part in daytime's first same-sex wedding ... a moment she says she'll never forget. "While it didn’t go quite as swimmingly as I had hoped it would, I am glad we did it. My future wife had a dalliance with my brother-in-law in the church where we were going to get married, the night before the wedding! Of course, I was sad the marriage got annulled on-air a day later. [Laughs] I was still so proud to be part of the first daytime same-sex marriage. They certainly made it a gorgeous soap opera wedding in the tradition of Erica Kane, and the dresses were fabulous and the flowers were amazing and it was a beautiful soapy wedding, not dissimilar from a classic heterosexual soap wedding. I did not get very much negative mail at all about the wedding. People loved my character of Bianca. They wanted to see her happy so badly, and it put a face on a concept that can be sort of impersonal. If you don’t know a gay person or a gay couple, then sometimes you can’t put a face on an issue, and then it’s hard to get emotionally invested in it."
Fans of Riegel who have been eager to see the actress return to daytime are about to get their wish — albeit on another show. Known for its spectacular A-level cast, The Young and the Restless welcomes Riegel next week ... and she says Genoa City already feels like her new home. “It’s been amazing. Everyone is lovely, and they make me feel so at home and comfortable. I am seeing Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe, Y&R; ex-Maggie, AMC) again, and that is the best part. I love that girl so much."
Soap fans in the know have already been treated to Riegel's new look on The Young and the Restless — which is decidedly different from Bianca's. “Heather is more sophisticated than Bianca was," Riegel says. "It is a new look and I dig it. I love the clothes they are giving me, and I like playing a character that has some balls to it.”
But when the news dropped a month ago, fans of Riegel’s Bianca were said to be extremely sad that they might never see Riegel as the moral center of Pine Valley again. “Fortunately, I have these amazing fans and they support me no matter what, and they are excited for me that I get to try something new out. They will be there for me come rain or come shine. Yes, there were a lot of people that were disappointed that I would not be back on All My Children, and there were a lot of people who completely understood why and were still as sad as I was, because that chapter of my life would not continue. I also hear through the grapevine that All My Children is going to recast Bianca. I support that. I hope they get an amazing actress who will take that character where she deserves to go and take her into a new direction or explore parts of her that I did not get a chance to do. As a fan of the show and a huge fan of Bianca and having a positive gay role model on daytime television, I would support that 100%, and I would be thrilled to have Bianca back.”