The Return of Eden Riegel

By Ross von Metzke

Originally published on Advocate.com October 17 2008 12:00 AM ET

From the second
Erica Kane’s daughter Bianca came out on All My
Children,
actress Eden Riegel secured herself a
gay following for life. Perhaps it’s the eloquence
with which she handled the story line. Maybe
it’s because Riegel’s sister is gay, and
the subsequent TV interviews put a personal spin on a TV
plot. Or maybe the answer is even more basic, because
really – who wouldn’t want to play the
daughter of Erica Kane.

Riegel has played
the role of Bianca off and on since 2000, during which
time gays both embraced the character and bombarded
ABC/Disney with complaints for not letting Bianca fall
in love and have a stable -- albeit, as they are all
in daytime, doomed -- relationship like everyone else.

Well, for anyone
who ever complained, wish granted. Riegel returns to the
role today, and she brings with her a wife and a secret. The
27-year-old actress sat down with Advocate.com to talk
about what’s in store for Bianca, her first day
back on the set, and what it was like to finally play
a bitch—Imaginary Bitch, that is.

Advocate.com:First things first -- congratulations on your return
to the show.
Eden Riegel: Thank you. Thank you very much.

In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should
tell you that sitting to my left is a mint condition
Erica Kane Barbie doll that a friend gave me for
my birthday.
[Laughs] Oh, that’s excellent. I
wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, unlike the last few times you returned to AMC,
I understand that this time you’re sticking
around for quite a while.
Yes, you’ll see a couple of things you
haven’t seen in a while. You’ll see me
sticking around, and then you’ll see Bianca in a
full-fledged, committed relationship with another
woman, played by an incredibly powerhouse actress that
the fans already know and love (General Hospital Emmy
nominee Tamara Braun) and who does just amazing work.
So it’s a really exciting time for All My Children.

Do you think that will make a difference, Bianca’s
partner being a full-time character? Because I know in
the past the show has been criticized for not
giving Bianca a full-fledged relationship, but now
they’ve brought on this recognized name and
they’re already together?
I think there has to be a difference. I
don’t know if the criticism is entirely
warranted. I know I was glad that the show’s priority
was in giving me good stories, and I thought that they
did go further than anyone else had ever gone, so I
always thought that they should be commended. But I
know that it left the fans and myself unsatisfied in the
end because Bianca was so busy mourning the loss of her
child and getting over her rape and also falling in
love with a woman who was bisexual, maybe straight.
She never really got to have the kind of relationship
that she deserved. Just the fact that they’re
bringing on Tamara Braun — she’s
incredible, they’re going to use her. They
aren’t going to waste her talent. I know that
we’re going to have a lot of amazing scenes to
play, and there’s no more truthful actress on the
planet.

Eden Riegel x100 (ABC Web pix) | Advocate.com  

How did they convince you to come back this time? It was the story line that got me excited. I
always want to come back. I love All My
Children,
and they’re my family. I barely need an
excuse -- it’s usually just about timing. But
this time it was the fact that they were going to have
Bianca in a committed relationship. It was very, very
important to me, and I was so glad to hear that. In the
context of that, there’s some pretty exciting story
line plot points that I’m aware of that are
dramatic and fun to play and enticing as an
actress…

And they’re making you keep quiet ... Yes. I know how to keep a secret now.
I’ve learned.

I’ve heard you say in the past that you take
playing Bianca very seriously. I’m wondering why
you think Bianca has become such an important
character for the gay community to identify with.
Those fans are rabid. I know people who watch AMC
only when they know you’re coming back.
Oh, God ... that’s so great. That makes
me very happy. I’m sure ABC wishes they would
watch all the time [laughs]. First of all, I
think it’s the nature of the medium and that people
get to see this character on a day-to-day basis and
she doesn’t have to do anything sensational
ever. She can just be and live in this world and do the kind
of things that every other character does on the show. That
she has a family and her mom is a total diva, Erica
Kane, who everybody already adores, especially in the
gay community, I’m well aware. The fact that
she’s not there for stunt purposes. That she’s
a living, breathing human being -- I think it’s
refreshing. I think that’s still kind of a rarity.

And then, also,
because Bianca is so special. She has such a big heart
and such a pure soul. I think she’s a totally whole
person with flaws, but her heart is in such the right
place. I’m lucky to be able to play such a
special character, and I love where she’s coming
from.

Do you think having an openly gay sister brought a
certain authenticity to how you approach the role?
Maybe. It’s possible. I mean, I’d
call her up sometimes and I would ask her really dumb
questions, like "What kind of music do lesbians listen
to?" or "What was it like when you came out? How did you
feel?" It’s a good excuse to talk to your sister
about all of the intimate things that maybe you
don’t always share with your family. What I
realized in talking to her was that she’s not that
different from me… it just made it all more
personal, and made me not play into stereotypes out of
ignorance.

Do you think it made you two closer? Yeah, I do. I think my sister was really touched
that I would play a character like this every day for
so many years. I know I could tell her a million times
that I love her completely for everything that makes her
who she is, but this is the way that I could not just tell
her but show her.

 Eden Riegel x100 (ABC Web pix) | Advocate.com

What was your first day back on the set like? Is it
just like going home?
Yeah. Like I never left. But I was really
nervous this time.

Why? I’m so excited about the story and I
really, really want to do a good job. I’ve been
away for a while. I’ve been doing other things.
I’ve been doing comedy a lot. I don’t
know -- maybe it’s that my entrance happens to
be so dramatic. Ordinarily, when I come back, I have a few
days of chats with Kendall, or "Hey, mom, how’s
it going?" I’m not normally thrust into the
middle of a story.

I know one of the things you’ve been doing in
your down time is the Web series Imaginary
Bitches
, which reunites you with a bunch of your
AMC costars, including Maggie, for AMC fans.
We’ve been dying to work together again,
so this was a good excuse. It came about -- my husband
thinks it’s really funny when I curse because it
sounds so foreign coming from me. So when I curse I sort of
laugh and get bashful, and he always thought that was
really hilarious. So when I was away shooting the
movie that I did, Year One [with Jack Black,
out next year], he came up with this story about a girl
who has imaginary friends who are really bitchy who say
really terrible, slutty, very wrong things, and the
only way you know what they’re saying is that I
repeat things. He thought it would be hilarious to get me to
say those kinds of things.

Well now, I have to ask you, what was your absolute
favorite thing to let loose and say?
Oh my God. The line that I barely could utter
was, in the priest episode, we’re in the pool
-- I invite the priest over later, and he’s very,
very sexy and he’s wearing only a Speedo. One
of my imaginary friends, Heather says, that he
shouldn’t wear a shirt so that she can wash her
panties on his abs while she’s wearing them.

Yeah, that’s kind of harsh. [Laughs] That image gets me every time.
But yes, there have been some really good lines. They
say all the things in conversation that you wish that
you could say but you never quite get there in time.

Do we have more of those to look forward to? I hope so. We usually shoot them in L.A., but I
have this fantasy of doing bitches in the city, so
maybe we’ll get there.

Eden Riegel
returns to
All My Children today. Visit ABC.com for more
information. For information on
Imaginary
Bitches, visit ImaginaryBitches.com.