Recently I had the pleasure to sit down with Guiding Light’s Jessica Leccia to discuss her character Natalia Rivera and the burgeoning same-sex love story energizing daytime TV. The stunning Leccia alongside sexy soap siren Crystal Chappell (Olivia Spencer) are throwing caution to the wind and raising some eyebrows on Guiding Light with their latest angst filled plot twist gradually revealing the unlikely love story between the two friends while trying to raise Olivia’s eight year old daughter Emma (Jacqueline Tsirkin) in a loving, stable home. You wont find any mention of labels or jumping on the bandwagon of what’s hot and controversial. There’s no fanfare or press conference bragging to the audience or mainstream America, “Hey look at us, we’re ground breaking!”
What you will find is the portrayal of a beautiful, loving family who, like most families, make school lunches in the morning and build class projects together at the kitchen table. More importantly there’s a true-to-life story that has been carefully crafted over the course of a year. Yes, I said a year! It’s not contrived or salacious, though the on-screen chemistry between Leccia and Chappell will melt your TV. It’s playful, intense, passionate, sexy and funny and has everybody glued to the edge of their seats, begging for more!
But at its heart, there is a love story in the truest possible sense. Brilliant writing from Ellen Wheeler (executive producer) and Jill Lorie Hurst (co-head writer) paired with two talented actresses, Jessica Leccia and Crystal Chappell, have not only struck a cord with daytime fans but are also paving the way for a positive change.
A very pregnant and incredibly busy Jessica Leccia graciously took some time out of her day to chat with me. Here’s what she had to say:
Eclipsemagainze: The characters are very different from one another. Olivia is definitely the more fly by the seat of her pants type while Natalia is more conservative and tends to think things through. Were you ever concerned that the audience would believe the storyline because they are so different?
Jessica Leccia: I actually was never concerned about that. We’ve actually been two characters that have been swirling around each other for a long time even before there was any speculation that there was going to be this friendship developing. So we started out basically she was my nemesis and I was hers. That kind of dynamic really helped spark the whole thing. So as far as how it works now, I think there was enough of a transition that that was never really a concern that that was an issue. And I actually thought that it worked for the relationship. Made it a bit more believable because of all the steps we took to get there.
EM: From the fans point of view, I’d have to agree with you that it helped to take things slow and really develop Natalia and Olivia’s relationship. I think it has made a big difference.
JL: Oh yeah, this was not some slap dash attempt at getting two opposite characters to kind of live in the same place. They really took the two characters into consideration when writing every exchange that they had.
EM: The characters are really on the verge of verbalizing their true feelings for one another.
EM: When do you think the light bulb moment was for both of them? To say, wow ok, this is something much deeper than I thought it would be.
JL: It’s kind of hard to tell because the characters are in different places at this moment. As far as my character she’s just got this whole swirl of confusion going on for her. It’s getting harder and harder for her not to say the things that are on her mind but she’s very reticent about it. But you get peeks into that when Natalia’s by herself when she’s talking to God or sometimes it’s a scene with Olivia and she, what I hope, is the audience is getting that it’s kind of on the tip of her tongue and it’s just so hard for her not to say but she does have that barrier up and Olivia is kind of in a different place.
Olivia is just very used to speaking her mind and so she’s a few steps ahead. I don’t know if there was moment when they fell in love with each other or anything like that. It’s been such a gradual thing. I think it was the falling…it was the process. Here’s two women that have always wanted sort of the same thing, as different as they are, and then all of the sudden they have it and then don’t know what to do with it. So it’s been very, very gradual. It’s been a build up of these feelings.