I Can See Clearly Now

By Michael Fairman

Originally published on Advocate.com March 22 2009 11:00 PM ET

One of daytime's most
valuable players, Tamara Braun, has been at the epicenter of
one of
All My Children

's most promising story lines -- that of the
relationship of female couple Reese and Bianca and
their two children. Delivering brave, knockout performances is
nothing new for Tamara, having done so not only on
AMC

but previously on
General Hospital

and
Days of Our Lives.

However, LGBT fans of
AMC

have been vocal about what they've perceived to be the
many failings of the groundbreaking story line
-- a long-awaited, highly anticipated tale of
two women in love who become legally married. For starters,
many complained that Reese (Braun) was not sufficiently
integrated into the Pine Valley canvas for the audience to
invest in her relationship with Bianca (Eden Riegel). Plus
there was the budding relationship between the couple and their
sperm donor, Zach (Thorsten Kaye). Many were concerned about
the conflicting message it sent about Reese's sexual
identity when she kissed Zach right before
the wedding. Then there was the wedding itself. While many felt
joyous and celebratory over the landmark, others were left
feeling the show missed an opportunity to make the union
memorable when it cut to other story points throughout the
episode.

Advocate.com spoke to
Tamara recently to get her, and her character's,
perspective on the tricky story line, what went wrong, and the
happy ending that fans have been told to expect when Eden
Riegel returns to wrap up the story arc.

Advocate.com:The journey that Reese has been on recently -- she became
blind, and the aftermath of Bianca walking out on their
relationship after Reese kisses Zach -- has been
confusing and convoluted to some viewers. Can you clarify from
your character's and your point of view about the kiss, and
when Reese realizes that she totally, 100% loves Bianca?
Tamara Braun:

From my point of view, Reese is not in love with Zach and she
never has been. As far as the kiss, any doubt she may have had
about her relationship with Bianca dissolved immediately after
it happened. It was a moment of needing a connection. It was
not about being in love with Zach. She was drunk, upset, and it
was unfortunate. It was a terrible mistake. As far as I am
concerned, Reese has always been in love with Bianca.

What does she feel toward Zach?

It's a dear, dear friendship and connection on an intimate but
not sexual level. Zach is someone who has been there for her
and they really connect, but they are not in love. She is so
thankful that Zach is there, but she also knows that the
closeness with him has caused problems.

TAMARA BRAUN 02 XLARGE (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

For you as an actress, has this been a more difficult role
to play? It seems like Reese is the outsider in Pine Valley,
whom no one accepts. She never got a fair shake.

It's been difficult in the sense that she's never had a clear
point of view. One minute I think I am playing a story line
that is going one way, and then there is a detour. So I have to
make it clear in my head. Yes, it's not fun playing the
outsider who has nobody, and no strong leg to stand on. Reese
has been under a microscope since she came to town and
doesn't have any family to support her. There is no one
around who knows the essence of who she really is. In some
respects, it's not the story I was coming to play ... in
others, it was.

In what sense was it the story you thought you were coming
to play?

We were getting married, which is why I wanted to do the role.
I thought that we were going to show what it's like to be a
same-sex couple in a loving, committed relationship dealing
with what life throws at them and the outside world and how
they are treated. There are a lot of story points and ideas I
thought we were going to hit upon, but they decided to take it
another route.

In the LGBT community some fans have felt very disgruntled
with the "Rianca" story and felt that Reese would not
even have kissed Zach. In a conversation with Advocate.com,
All My Children

executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers said that Reese never
wavered in her commitment to Bianca, but it was playing oddly
to this audience. So some were not happy with the story.

I am sorry they were not happy, because one of my main reasons
for taking this role was to be able to give a positive voice to
same-sex couples.

It was hard to root for the couple because some of the
issues that face the LGBT community went off point.

I agree. The issues did go off point and I understand why it
was difficult for some to root for Bianca and Reese. I think
some may have felt that they missed a great opportunity. But, I
am so thankful for the fans who hung in there and did support
us.

Tamara, you signed a short-term contract with the show, as
did Eden. Do you think that made the difference in the way the
story was actually told?

I think it is a gift and a blessing to know that you have your
characters for a short amount of time, because it enables the
writers to get to do something they don't generally have
the luxury of doing in soaps, which is to write a beginning,
middle, and an end.

TAMARA BRAUN 03 XLARGE (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

Did you receive positive feedback from the LGBT community
during your performances and the telling of this story?

Yes, absolutely positive! And sometimes, I was shocked by it
because I know it was not the story they wanted, but they were
so happy to be represented on TV and on a soap. I was recently
at an event for Broadway Cares, and a lesbian couple came up to
me and said, "We were just married last year and we are so
happy. We love the two of you." I said, "Really, were
you happy with the story?" And they said, "We were
just so happy to be represented. We see the love you two have
and we know the struggles that you two are going through. And
we want to see where it ends, but please tell us there is a
happy ending."

I watched the episodes of the Bianca-and-Reese wedding and I
wanted to be moved to tears at the first same-sex ceremony
portrayed on daytime television. But it was hard to celebrate
it when they were cutting away to other stories.

I have received that feedback from others as well. That they
felt robbed of a beautiful first for daytime. It took viewers
out of the moment.

How is working with Thorsten?

He's great and such a wonderful actor. He believed in the
characters of Bianca and Reese and really fought for us.

Did he spend long hours with you dissecting the dicey
scenes?

He is fantastic. Yes, we spent many hours talking and trying to
make our scenes as real and honest as possible.

Are there moments of which you are most proud?

I am really proud of many scenes that we have done. I am happy
that we were allowed to express the characters' love in a
physical way. I loved the proposal scenes and also the scenes
when Reese told Bianca about coming out to her parents. Eden
and I were so connected with one another during those
scenes.

I was told Eden and you worked meticulously, talking through
scenes before you would shoot. You obviously took great care
with the work.

Absolutely. That's our job. I also felt such a responsibility
with this role in particular. It was very important for me to
make sure it was told honestly. It was important to both of us.
Eden had been playing the role of Bianca for so long that we
wanted to make this pairing the best it could be and to take
care of it.

Was Reese falling on a plate of glass and then being
temporarily blind difficult to take on?

Yes, it was. It's really hard in this medium because it moves
so fast and we generally only do one take. It was an
interesting challenge.

TAMARA BRAUN 04 XLARGE (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

You had a great on-screen sparring partner in the one and
only Susan Lucci. As Erica Kane, she was always being
confrontational with Reese. How was working with La Lucci?

Oh, it's great working with Susan. She has been so supportive
of me, my being on the show and telling this story. It is fun
to have Reese go up against Erica in scenes. Who better to go
head to head with than the great Erica Kane?

Tamara, you are set to leave Pine Valley and the show
soon.

Yes, I am. I do not know when my last air date will be, but I
am wrapping up soon, and I am told there will be a happy ending
for Bianca and Reese.

How was working with Eden as your other half on-screen?

I love Eden. She is my friend and she opened her arms to me
when I came to
All My Children,

and we became fast friends. It was incredible. We would look at
each other at times and hold each other's hands. We were a
bit sad that the whole wedding was not happy, and that her
gorgeous vows were intercut with another section of the show.
Because of that and the fact that Reese kissed Zach the night
before, we just held each other's hands and said,
"Wouldn't it just suck if we didn't like each
other?" And we laughed, and we are so thankful that we
care about one other and respect each other.

ALL MY CHILDREN SUSAN LUCCI TAMARA BRAUN EDEN RIEGEL WEDDING XLARGE (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM

Is there anything you would like to say that you learned or
were touched by or took away from this experience to the LGBT
fans that watched the story?

The letters I have received saying, "Thank you for caring
so much about this role. It's so good to see an amorous couple
that represents me. It's so needed." I am
thankful for that. On a personal note, nothing in life is ever
as we want it to be, and in soap land things rarely go
smoothly. We have to remember it is a soap and does take twists
and turns. Some are rides we want to go on, some are rides we
don't, but we have to go anyway. I feel honored to have
taken a stab at this, and I hope I represented the LGBT
community in a positive light. I hope I showed the truth and
the authenticity of a woman in love with another woman trying
to find her way.

Would you tackle playing a lesbian role again?

Of course I would. As an actress, I just want the opportunity
to be able to flesh out the characters I play and be involved
in story lines that I can be proud of.

Congratulations on your Daytime Emmy pre-nomination for
Outstanding Supporting Actress for your role as Ava on
Days of Our Lives

!

Thank you. I am so touched that my costars nominated me. I
really enjoyed my time at
Days

-- the work I got to do and the friends I made.

In closing, what can we say to look forward to from Reese as
we start to wrap up her story, and what are her sentiments?

Reese is a woman who absolutely loves Bianca. She is not
perfect and has regrets about how she has handled certain
aspects of their relationship. But if Bianca could forgive her
and they are able to move forward, then I believe Reese will do
everything in her power to make Bianca happy. Bianca is the
mother of her children, her one true love, and hopefully they
will be together for the rest of their lives.