“Guiding Light” Stars Crystal Chappell and Jessica Leccia Dish on “Otalia”


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?

Crystal Chappell
: 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.

Jessica Leccia: 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 natural.

AE: Which aspect of Olivia and Natalia’s personalities do you enjoy exploring the most? Which is the most challenging?

: 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 possible.

AE: Which developments in your characters’ respective storylines have surprised you the most?

: Probably 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.

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