A powerful force known as “Otalia” is currently rocking
daytime television. While their characters on CBS’s Guiding Light may still be exploring and coming to terms with their feelings and their growing relationship, actresses Crystal Chappell (Olivia)
and Jessica Leccia (Natalia) had no problem expressing themselves to AfterEllen.com
about their on-screen budding romance in a recent email interview.
Crystal Chappell (left) and Jessica Leccia
AfterEllen: How did
the writers approach you about the romantic turn in your characters’
relationship, and what was your initial reaction?
My EP sat me down and told me that they were going to tell a story about
two women who grow to depend on and love each other and that there may be some
physical contact and how would I feel about that. I thought it was a story that
I had never done before on television and as an actress it was exciting to
think about, exploring all kinds of love that exist.
The beginnings of this relationship happened all the way back when Gus
was killed in an accident. Everything happened very quickly so I was informed
that Gus would be Olivia’s heart donor and that that would lead to an intense
relationship between Nat and Olivia, who at the time hated each other.
I didn’t get a lot of details of course, but the idea was to
have the relationship shift very gradually.
I really loved the idea of building some kind of friendship
or relationship or whatever you want to call it from something so unlikely, and
to establish a relationship with another woman rather than possibly become some
sort of man chaser.
AE: What kind of
response have you received from longtime GL fans to the idea of a romantic
relationship between your characters?
CC: There are
those who don’t believe that my character would ever even think about a woman
and based on her history, I understand that. But there are others that are very
supportive of her exploring what it is she does feel for this other woman.
JL: I think
the general consensus is that people are responding to the way the writers have
let people in on the ins and outs of the development of this relationship
between Nat and Olivia. Their appreciation of each other although begrudgingly
at first, is what some fans really like to see.
For other fans I’m sure there are some eyebrows raised and
maybe some discomfort at some of the speculation going around, and that’s only
AE: Which aspect of Olivia
and Natalia’s personalities do you enjoy exploring the most? Which is the most
CC: For me,
Olivia the character, there isn’t a single aspect. It is the whole character
just as it would be the whole person. One thing affects the other. I am
enjoying this story line because for a character like Olivia whose has had a
hard time loving and finding love in her life, this opens up a world of
vulnerability and possibility for her.
The more challenging aspects of her are her defensiveness
and anger toward life. Those are the harder qualities to play.
JL: As someone
relatively new to the show and the genre, I’m most interested in my character
making connections with other characters, so this story is beyond enjoyable for
me. Nat and Olivia talk a lot about being a family and what that means.
The most challenging thing is approaching the questions that
Natalia has about herself, this relationship, her faith, her feelings, because
I honestly don’t know what will happen and I want things to be as realistic as
AE: Which developments
in your characters’ respective storylines have surprised you the most?
that she has been such a dedicated mother to her daughter, that despite the
fact the she is an outside character, she is present with her child. I wouldn’t
have expected her to be such a good mother.
JL: I guess
I’m most surprised at how much time and care has been put into exploring this
relationship. The writers have really given us a lot, especially since many of
our scenes consist of "family time" sitting around our kitchen table.
Being around Olivia has brought more dimension to Natalia.
She’s discovered some strengths she didn’t know she had because Olivia has
brought them out of her.