In Part One and Part Two of my interview with the delightful and determined Bree Williamson, we discussed her experience starting on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, the evolution of Jess/Bess/Tess, as well as hot topic issues related to women's health care and the pro-choice movement. In this final portion we discuss the Emmy Awards, being a role model, and the unfortunate fate of male heroes in Llanview.
We Love Soaps: At any time while you were preparing for Nash’s funeral scene, did it enter your mind that this would be your Emmy reel?
Bree Williamson: I pretty much knew I would submit that. It’s like a science to pick a reel. It depends on which characters are in it with you, which story you’re telling. You’re judged by your peers, but not all peers watch your show. So it can’t be out of left field. My problem in the past is that it was always Jess/Tess stuff and people didn’t really understand that, they weren’t really attached to it. But this episode was good because there was an arc to it. So yes, I thought, “This will be it.” I try not to think too much about it, because then it puts more pressure on it. I want to enjoy it, as weird as that sounds, to take my moment and make it as real as possible.
We Love Soaps: What was it like for you not to win?
Bree Williamson: You know, it was fine. I think everybody else was more disappointed than I was. It sounds so cheesy, but it was really fun to be nominated. The only weird part about was that everyone [said], “You’re going to win, you’re going to win.” In Vegas, they bet on everything. And they were betting on Best Supporting Actress for the Emmy’s. I was the best odds to win. But you get the same amount of attention. If I was going to lose to anyone, Tamara [Braun] is just so great. She’s so great. And I had a soap to go back to, she didn’t. So it was a nice thing for her, it was a great moment for her, she’s such a lovely girl. So it was fine for me. I got a pretty dress, I had a lot of expensive jewelry, I got to sit up front, and they said my name when they announced the nominees. So it’s okay. And it’s not the end...hopefully! Hopefully I haven’t peaked yet.
We Love Soaps: The scenes with Jess, Bess, and Tess, arguing in the cage were powerful scenes, emotionally and psychologically. I imagine that was a lot of work.
Bree Williamson: It was. It was a day where literally I was the only one on the schedule. Just me. I think that Jon (Brotherton) and Melissa (Archer) were there for the first couple of scenes, then it was only me. I had a migraine at the end of the day. It was really fun though, I had a really good day. The set was imaginative, and the directing was cool.
We Love Soaps: What would you like to see happen for Jessica?
Bree Williamson: I don’t know. I always love when Tess comes back. But it’s hard for me to answer because I already know what’s going to happen. It’s super new, and barely written yet so I can’t say anything. I don’t want Jessica to be happy, that’s it. I want things to always be troublesome. It’s funny because people are always like, “Don’t you want Jessica to be happy?” I say, “No, of course I don’t! When you’re happy you fall through a skylight. You don’t want that!” I joke about that, I hope Forbes (March) doesn’t mind.
We Love Soaps: It seems lately on ONE LIFE TO LIVE that when the male characters become content or heroic that something tragic befalls them.
Bree Williamson: I hope it’s just an unfortunate coincidence with Jon Brotherton and Forbes (Jared and Nash). Their death created so much story for everybody. So I hope that that’s the end of it.
We Love Soaps: What would you like to see happen for Bree?
Bree Williamson: More of the same. I have a great husband, a great life, what more could I want?
We Love Soaps: Do you ever think about doing theater?
Bree Williamson: I did theater in Newport, R.I. I did Barefoot In The Park. I don’t actively audition for theater. But we are doing a musical my friend wrote called, Queen Bea. Beth Ann (Bonner, ex-Talia) and I star in it. Mark Lawson (Brody) did the first performance but we switched him out for Jason Tam (Marco) because Mark just got so busy. And then Chris Stack (ex-Michael) plays another character. My friend Gena Oppenheim and Danny Lincoln wrote the show. It’s really really fun. The last one was sold out. We said, “Geez, let’s do another one.”
We Love Soaps: When is the next production?
Bree Williamson: I’m not sure yet, I will let you know.
We Love Soaps: If you could go back seven years, right before you started on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, what advice would you give yourself?
Bree Williamson: I don’t think anything, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I had a really good time, I think I made some good decisions. “Have fun” is always my advice, and I did. “Relax” is another thing I tell myself.
We Love Soaps: There always seems to be a lot of change behind the scenes in daytime. Is that ever hard for you?
Bree Williamson: Ron (Carlivati) has been our writer for quite awhile now. And Brian (Frons) has been the head of daytime as long as I’ve been there. Gary (Tomlin) was the one who hired me but since I showed up Frank (Valentini) has been our Executive Producer. There hasn’t been that much change, other than a few different writers. And that’s always a little nerve working when a writer who writes a lot for you leaves and a new writer comes on. You think, “Oh my God, I hope they like me, I hope they know how to write for me.” But Ron’s great. I think we’re in our stride at ONE LIFE. I don’t think there are going to be any changes. I hope not.
We Love Soaps: I have always enjoyed on soaps how the heroine goes through some of the worst traumas on earth, yet perseveres and lives on to have a better day. I think Jessica is definitely one of those women.
Bree Williamson: I get that from fans too who say, “Your show gets me through the day.” It’s really positive. It’s an occupational hazard for us that we can’t give up. We have to keep on going, the writers have to write more. It is good to be on a show where the characters can’t lie in bed all day and give up and sleep in bed all day and not fight.
We Love Soaps: What message would you like to convey to the young women who watch Jessica go through these crises year after year?
Bree Williamson: I’ve always seen Jessica as a strong, smart, and sexy woman. Those three things can live together in one person, they’re not mutually exclusive. I hope Jessica sets a good example, despite her mental health issues, of someone who is together and very confident, yet caring. I’m happy to play someone who can be scene as a role model and can be seen as someone to look up to. Although her circumstances are always very dramatic, she stays together...except when she’s splitting.
EDITOR'S NOTE: We Love Soaps sends a special thank you to our friend Joanna Parson for assisting in making this interview possible!
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is blogging about surviving the holidays at www.shouldless.com.
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