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Tamara Braun: AMC's Lesbian Wedding Crasher

Tamara Braun: AMC's Lesbian Wedding Crasher

When Tamara Braun's latest Daytime alter-ego Reese Williams landed in All My Children's Pine Valley last October as suitor to diva Erica Kane's lesbian daughter Bianca, the air was rife with possibility. A gracious Braun chatted with SheWired for a second time, weighing in on the Academy Awards, Prop. 8, Reese's boozing and impending blindness, her chagrin that there weren't more love scenes between Reese and Bianca and her favorite curse word (s).

TracyEGilchrist

When Tamara Braun's latest Daytime alter-ego Reese Williams landed in All My Children's Pine Valley last October as suitor to diva Erica Kane's lesbian daughter Bianca, the air was rife with possibility. Prop. 8, the hateful measure banning gay marriage in California, could have been defeated at the fingertips of California voters. And for a time, even by "Soap" standards, it seemed as though Reese and Bianca would continue their epic love affair virtually unscathed, tie the knot and live happily ever after.

While the phrases soap opera and "happily ever after" are typically mutually exclusive, Braun's Reese and Eden Riegel's Bianca were poised to break new ground for same-sex visibility on Daytime by virtue of their ardent love, their never-before-seen girl-on-girl physicality and their impending nuptials.

Discounting Reese's close bond with Bianca's brother-in-law Zach, which led to a drunken kiss on the eve of her wedding to the woman she loves, a subsequent custody battle, an annulment and an incident that blinds Reese, the couple, and the actresses who play them, will unofficially enter the annals of lesbian pop culture history. Despite the rocky road All My Children's writers have sent the characters down, lesbians who've learned to read between the lines at a glance, a touch, a perfectly-timed paused, can see the ultimate love story Braun and Riegel are committed to telling.

Emmy-nominated Daytime veteran Braun has made waves as Carly on General Hospital and as Ava on Days of our Lives, but it's her unforgettable turn as the smart, sexy architect Reese who alternately full-out loves Bianca and does battle with Pine Valley's resident detractors, including Susan Lucci's Erica Kane, that has landed Braun as the new darling of lesbian fans.

Last fall SheWired chatted with Braun just as she was stepping into Reese's shoes. Wildly fun, sassy and generous, Braun agreed to talk to us again now that Reese and Bianca are nearing the end of their rollercoaster ride. She weighed in on the Academy Awards, Prop. 8, Reese's boozing and impending blindness, her chagrin that there weren't more love scenes between Reese and Bianca and her favorite curse word (s).  While Braun might have had a different idea of how she'd like to have seen the story play out, one thing's for sure: She's an ardent advocate for gay rights and she's won us over!


Tamara Braun: Tracy? It's Tamara Braun calling.

Tracy E. Gilchrist: How are you?

TB: I'm doing very well. How are you?

TEG: Thank you so much for taking time out of your crazy busy schedule to have a rematch with me.

TB: Oh well, I enjoyed the first match.

TEG: I think you won anyway.


TB: I had a ball. We just play for fun, not to win.

TEG: Aww, exactly. Well...I have a lot to ask you.

TB: Oh geez.

TEG: I'm not going to keep you all day but you've been up to so much. But first, I just have to ask, did you watch the Academy Awards? Is that a big night for you? I sense it's something you're into.


TB: Ohhhhhh yes. Unfortunately a gathering turned into more of a party. And I have to be honest, I get very angry because I'm very serious about my Oscars.

TEG: Me too! I get mad, I have to watch it with a very small group of people, and they're not allowed to badmouth anybody I like.

TB: I know and they have to shut up when people are speaking, you know, I like to hear the obscure awards and what the winners have to say, because often, it is the most heartfelt and it makes such an impression on me. You know I like to hear what the artist has to say. I like to hear how people who worked really hard, how they take it in. You know, I'm like you. But unfortunately, it wasn't my party or most of my friends so I couldn't yell. But I pouted a little bit.

TEG: Yeah, that's bad. I watched it with my good friend because I actually live right near the Kodak so I couldn't even leave my apartment. She's great but she won't drink with me.

TB: Oh! Well you know what, you don't want to make her sponsors at AAA upset.  AAA? Triple A?
 
TEG: Yeah exactly, I'll call a tow truck.


TB: What'd you think, were you so excited about?

TEG: Oh listen, I am a gay woman who absolutely confuses actors with the parts they play.  So I have to say, I was just so over the moon happy for both Penelope Cruz and Kate Winslet. I adore them both. They're two of my favorites.

TB: Yes! I definitely loved Penelope's acceptance speech, and love the both of them. And how about, forgive me for not knowing his name, how about the screenwriter for
Milk?

TEG: Yeah Yeah Yeah, Dustin Lance Black. So moving...


TB: I was so happy to see it. It just touched my heart. And Sean Penn.  I did enjoy. You know, I'm eagerly awaiting watching little clips on YouTube.

TEG: You tubing as it were.

(LAUGHS)

TB: That's what it's about you know? We're here to entertain but for me its so much more, it's about to really tell true stories, which kind of leads us to...

TEG: All My Children!

TB: This craziness, yeah.

TEG: I want to say first of all, congrats on making history. You know that you will be in the annals of lesbian pop culture history forever now.

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TB: Yes I guess I will be (LAUGHS).

TEG: And whether that was ever a career goal of yours or not I don't know, how does that feel for you?

TB: Well, it feels great to be part of the first, absolutely.  As you say, whether people are happy with the story or disappointed in the story and the turns it took, it is the first. And it does open a door. So you know, in that sense, its exciting to be the first.

TEG: You know when I chatted with you back in Oct, I'm sorry-- I think you might remember when I talked to you last time, I have this crazy gay coworker who's across the cubicle from me.

TB: MY BUDDY ROSS!

TEG: Ross yes, he just came out of a meeting and he was so serious earlier. He couldn't talk to me before. But he just put his Erica Kane doll in front of me.


TB: Just now he put an Erica Kane doll in front of you?

TEG: (Laughs) Yes, she's staring at me.

TB: Well tell him I had the real deal in front of me earlier!

TEG: I will, he just walked away but I will later. Okay, let's get back to business. When we chatted back in October, Prop. 8 was yet to be voted on. And has subsequently passed. With this burgeoning story line that you're involved in, has the passing of Prop 8 affected your approach to the story you're telling as Reese?

TB: Well, my approach is to the story line is to tell the truth of the characters. My desire is to really tackle some important issues within the storyline because it was so timely. The writers and producers had a different idea... a different route that they took. Their concern was not to be political. And that's fine, I respect that completely. I think there could have been ways to deal with the issues, without being political, you know? My approach was always just to tell the truth of the characters. On a personal level, I was devastated by the passing of the proposition. As the rest a lot of the country was....from being so elevated to have our first African-American President and to see how far we've come and then to realize 'Wow, we just took a hug leap back.'

TEG: Right.  I'm imagining that you probably have friends and people in your life that it affects?

TB: Absolutely! And not only, people who have been married, you know same sex couples who have gotten married or wanted to get married or were planning their weddings. But I think it affects all of us. I think it affects us as a society because we just basically told a large group of people that they are not worthy of equal rights. And that is not what this country was founded on.

TEG: Wow. Thank you for that. Alright, I'm going to take us away from the serious real stuff for a minute (laughs) I mean because that's real and important.... Oh Ross is saying that you're a superb actress and that were going to miss you on the show.


TB: Aw, thank you so much.

TEG: Now...you've been causing quite a stir in Pine Valley, what do you have to say for yourself?

TB: Yeah, Well... Reese? Yeah, Reese? What the hell happened is what I'm saying.

TEG: Well, did you know when you took the role that she was a raging boozer?

TB: Did I know? No! But I thought it was extremely interesting that all her scenes she was always drinking wine.  She was very French. Reese likes her wine. I had no idea she was a boozer!

TEG: Yeah I mean does she have rehab in her future?


TB: Well, you know that's what I was thinking might be a good approach. But I guess she doesn't have rehab in her future, instead she has blindness in her future!

TEG: Oh no. Well you know, that's what happens to women who rock the boat...the system...bad women. There's this old 50's melodrama film with Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson where she went blind so...

TB: Did you say that's what happens with bad women?

TEG: Yeah, transgressive women.


TB: What's it called?

TEG: The movie? It's called Magnificent Obsession. I'm really not making it up.

TB: Oh my gosh... I've got to write that down.

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TEG: So, regarding Reese, I think after a few drinks, everyone gets a little friendly with everyone. So is Bianca overreacting or what?

TB: Well, you know, I think Bianca's reactions are valid, you know. She has a right to her reaction, it was the night before her wedding, what the fuck was Reese thinking? And you kissed the...oh, you're going to have to draw a squiggly line through that aren't you?

TEG: Oh we use that here. You're okay.

TB: Are you allowed to say fuck?

TEG: Oh we say fuck. Yeah, all the time.

TB: Oh I love fuck! Okay. That's one of my favorite (LAUGHS)

TEG: So, if we were doing
Inside the Actors Studio that would be your favorite curse word?

TB: Ah well no actually, it'd probably be a toss up between 'cocksucker motherfucker' and 'motherfucking cocksucker.'

TEG: I see, an inversion, okay. That's very clever and naughty all at once.

TB: There you go...Anyways, I digress.

TEG: Its okay. But now I don't even know where my head was at. You've taken it to a whole new level. And I can't concentrate.


TB: I think you were saying is Bianca over Reese?

TEG: Yeah, and you were talking about -- rather seriously -- that her reactions are valid.

TB: They are valid you know. It's the night before her wedding! The biggest problem I have with the story line, and what Reese did, is that I thought we were teasing the audience, you know when the entire town is saying 'oh I don't trust her, I don't trust her, she's bad!" and the two people, and even three -- including Zach -- are fighting to say "Who are you people? She's trustworthy. She's not doing the thing you're imagining and putting pressure on her about." When you make it a reality, the fight loses its impact. You go, 'okay, she's exactly what we thought she was.' Now, I don't think that she's exactly what they thought she was. I think Reese is trustworthy. I think Reese is a human being. But she's imperfect. She's flawed. She's not in love with Zach by any means.

TEG: Right. I think that's obvious.

TB: She was feeling vulnerable, she started doubting herself, and she had her own... and she was drunk! (laughs)

TEG: She was a lush!

TB: Yeah, she didn't need a kiss. She needed a 12-Step program. (Laughs)

TEG: Exactly.

TB: The thing is, this has been Bianca's luck with the love in her life. So, to me, it hit the core of her insecurities and fears.

TEG: Of course. Poor Bianca.

TB: Because, frankly, I understand (Bianca's) those actions.  Wanting the annulment, taking the kids... yeah maybe that went too far, but we do all kinds of crazy things when we're hurt.

TEG: Of course.


TB: A woman scorned...

TEG: Exactly, exactly.

TB: It is a show.

TEG: Just a little bit, because now we're fully into it, when I spoke to you before you hadn't I don't think you'd even started shooting yet.


TB: No I was full of hope (laughs).

TEG: Aw, we still are. I think just for even having it out there is in important. I want to ask you about your costars, but first, do you think Reese and Bianca will have a happy ending?

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TB: Oh yes.

TEG: Is that good enough for you? To take this detour and then come back with a happy ending or were you just wanting it t be smooth sailing?

TB: No, I don't think there should ever be complete smooth sailing.


TEG: I think we would all agree, those that are watching, that you're absolutely doing a bang-up job with the curves Reese has been thrown.

TB: Aw. thank you. You were going to ask me about my costars?

TEG: Yes. I have to ask you about working with Susan of course. But first. Eden is your on-screen partner. How's that been for you? Have you developed a friendship? Is there a shorthand between the two of you now?


TB: She's now back in LA for a bit. But we, honestly, Eden and Andrew have opened their arms, I mean from the day I got into town, opened their arms and their homes to me. And were so welcoming and hospitable. And that started the week I got there. And then, Eden and I just became such close friends, there's such a mutual respect and love for each other. And I honestly, getting to know her and calling her my friend, I mean my real friend, has been such a blessing and a gift that has made it all worthwhile.

TEG: So you'll keep in touch you think then?

TB: Absolutely. We text and leave each other silly messages all the time. (Laughs) Real Fun. And she's coming out here again. We're already planning what we're doing.

TEG: That's good to hear. People love that. And I wanted to ask you quickly about Susan Lucci and then I wanted to ask about the fans.


TB: Okay.

TEG: So...just some quick thoughts about working with Susan.

TB: It's been fantastic. She has been so welcoming, so supportive of the storyline and telling it honestly. She's so caring. Really, I didn't know what to expect, and I just think she's a doll.  She is SUCH a lady. She has been nothing but kind and supportive of my being there. So I'm very thankful and very happy about that.


TEG: How about when Reese is facing off with her?  Does that just get your heart rate up? Because it seems like such a great challenge to be playing opposite her.

TB: For Reese?

TEG: Well for you as an actress, when you're working against someone who's just such an icon and know for her conniving, and kinda 'you don't want to  mess with her'...and for the character.

TB: Well, Reese knows that no one's good enough for Erica Kane's daughter. 

 

TEG: Right

TB: So that's always been an uphill battle for her, or probably anyone whose been involved with either of her daughters. And that's I think why Zach and Reese also have a connection; no one's ever good enough. and its not about the person, it's about Erica Kane's wants and desires for her children; only the best, only perfection. So it's been a challenge for Reese to prove herself.

TEG: And now, you've been out there doing this for a while with quite a bit of press, in the soap -- I mean Daytime -- world, gay world, straight world...tell me a little bit about your new lesbian fan following, which I'm assuming you have amassed.

TB: It's been so supportive and they are so happy to have representation on the show.  I've received some of the most incredible letters I've ever read in my life.

TEG: Thanking you?

TB: Thanking me. Like this one woman wrote to me, and she was saying that she just put her 9-year-old to bed, and her wife goes "come here, come here!" she was ready to go read a book but her wife goes "look look look, there's a lesbian couple on TV and they're engaged!" and she said "what?!" and they're on Daytime! And she continued, please, I hope this doesn't come across badly but I'm just not a soap opera fan, I'd much prefer to curl up with a good book and that's how I spend my time. And she said ' but I was taken, and I had to watch.' And it made such an impact on her to se an amorous couple on Daytime, taking care of family, going through the things she has experienced in her life. And she's thankful for the honest and authentic portrayal.

TEG: It's clear that you're both dedicated to the story.

TB: I think the fans are thankful for the love and the care and the honesty that both Eden and I have brought to this relationship. Because it was very important for us to do that, regardless of what the story the writers chose to tell, that was out of our control. That what was important is that all the stuff they would throw at these characters and that the loving connection is there. And the fans are very thankful for that. Nothing is a bed of roses, nothing is perfect and wonderful in any relationship. So, they're really thankful for that, to have representation so I'm happy that they're happy.

TEG: Yeah, I mean, lesbians for so long, have learned to read between the lines of every little glance between two actresses who are trying to tell a love story. I mean, the studios sanitized Fried Green Tomatoes, but lesbian audiences could sense that the actresses were on the same page as us.  So, you portraying this character with Eden, it's absolutely clear where you're coming from... I think.

TB: Thank you.

TEG: Yeah. And the fans know that as well.

TB: Oh good.

TEG: Now, the amorous part of their relationship. That's another area where you've really broken ground, I mean this is a loving, physical couple.


TB: Yeah.

TEG: That's a big deal. I mean, do you get the impact of what that means to a lesbian audience?

TB: Well, on my first day of work with Eden, I was very affectionate-- physically. And Eden and I had never worked together before.

TEG: (Laughs) Was she like, "okay stop touching me?"


TB: Well, when we kissed... as an actor to another actor, you want to make sure your partner is comfortable and you're comfortable with everything. But I was always just touching her and touching her, and at one point I looked at her and said "Are you okay? Am I being too physical?" and she said "No, it's wonderful." But you know, she is the one who was the first lesbian character in daytime. And in the past, there wasn't as much freedom to express. And I've said it before, they were keeping the character in the closet almost. So there's been a real freedom, I never even thought that I wasn't going to express my affection physically on screen, I thought it was a given, I mean these two people are in love. Until I looked at her and asked and she was thrilled that the producers hadn't said be less affectionate or hold back, they just let us do what we wanted. So I am proud, I'm very proud of ABC and AMC for allowing that.

TEG: For your make out scenes?

TB: We had make out scenes? Not really... (laughs)

TEG: By our (lesbian) standards and what we are accustomed to seeing,  they are.


TB: I was wondering where the love scenes were going to be, but maybe that's asking for a little too much. But make out scenes. But love scenes I think have been played through out the whole thing. Because we absolutely have played the love.


TEG: Yeah, absolutely. Alright, well I don't have too much more for you. I just wanted to ask you if you can tell us about anything that's coming up next for you? Or if you're just in this at the moment, and that's that.

TB: Well I will be finishing up soon, and looking forward to how they wrap the story line up between Bianca and Reese. It will be a happy ending. Or so we've been told... And there's some things in the works, but you know, sometimes I'm a little superstitious. So I should keep it under wraps until something is a done deal. You now it's not done until it's done.

TEG: Gotcha.

TB: But I have my eye on a few things and some people have their eye on me for some things so we'll just see what happens.  And I will be more then happy to talk to you at any time about anything, I think you're fantastic and I loved your article

TEG: Oh well thank you, you too.  And listen, I'm putting it out there right now. I think we should watch the Oscars together next year.

TB: Right?! Right?! I would be up for that.

TEG: Alright ill hold you to that. Ill be texting or emailing your publicist next year saying, "Um, Tamara Braun said she'd watch the Oscar's with me...Could you make that happen?" Oh, Ross is asking if he can come...


TB: Absolutely! Is he going to bring his Erica Kane doll?

TEG: Oh yeah he's kinda like Will and Grace's Jack with his Cher doll.

TB: Great, so she'll watch with us. It will be the four of us.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

<p>Cinephile, cyclist, proud cat lady and unabashed Pretty Little Liars guru.</p>

<p>Cinephile, cyclist, proud cat lady and unabashed Pretty Little Liars guru.</p>