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I Can See Clearly

I Can See Clearly


This week, as Reese regains her sight on All My Children, actress Tamara Braun speaks frankly about daytime's first same-sex wedding and the subsequent fallout from diehard fans of Rianca.

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. 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. 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.

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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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