In a brand new feature interview out today from On-Air On-Soaps Michael Fairman for FrontiersLa.com, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Joanna Johnson (Karen) and Crystal Chappell (Danielle) talk candidly about Joanna’s thoughts post-coming out publicly a few weeks ago, working together as the soaps first ever same-sex on-screen couple, and the difficult journey it can be for one to find self-acceptance in a world that is often still filled with prejudice. The piece entitled: The Bold and the Beautiful Lives of Joanna Johnson and Crystal Chappell also appears in the current L.A Pride issue of Frontiers LA on newsstands now in the Southern California area. Here are some interesting and compelling excerpts below!
Joanna on how she turned her thinking around after feeling she could never have the kind of life she was portraying on TV when she first was on B&B: “For me, once I quit acting, that was really freeing. I became more out with everybody that knew me. And as a writer/producer, I talked about my wife and my family all the time. There have been times where I have felt, “If they know I am gay, will they think I can’t write straight?” Certainly, I have had those thoughts, but mostly, I think I project my fears onto other people. I put what I think they are thinking into their heads. Growing up, I have learned that most people really are not giving me much thought. [Laughs] In their own lives they are not sitting around and thinking, “Hmm. That Joanna Johnson is gay,” when in fact they are not thinking about me at all. I felt that less so as an actress in the business, and it probably contributed to why I stopped acting, because it was very hard for me to hide out. In those days, I didn’t feel like I could come out and it wouldn’t hurt my career, and possibly embarrass the Bell family, although they have always been incredibly supportive. I did not want to hurt the show in any way. But, I often felt the pressure when I would go to Europe. The American soap press does not ask a lot about your home life. They are pretty respectful. It’s more of a friendly relationship. But when I would go overseas and be asked, “Who is your boyfriend?,” I felt like I was not being authentic and lying. I would be thinking, “If they knew I was gay, they would stone me in the streets.” I think that pressure, besides the other pressures that come along with acting, which are to be beautiful and sexy as a woman, and the object of desire when you are an ingénue or a younger actress, was a lot of pressure for me. That was because of my own self-loathing. It was my own doubts and prejudice of myself that got in my way. It was hard for me to have that as a mirror out there in the world.”
Crystal on any trepidation taking on another gay role on a daytime soap, after her last run as Guiding Light’s Olivia was filled with forehead touching and knuckle play with her love interest, Natalia (Jessica Leccia) : “I have perfected the art of forehead butting and knuckle touching, by the way. [Laughs] A role is a role, to be honest, as an actor. So I don’t have an issue with playing another gay character. Obviously, the story is important. I have talked about being an ambassador for the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and that is an organization close to my heart. I want these young people to grow up represented and see themselves on TV. So when the opportunity was presented to me, there was no trepidation at all. In terms of my previous experience with playing Olivia on Guiding Light, it’s a different time and a different company. I know what I was told and I feel very good about the story. It’s about a loving family. They have their issues and they have a child together. I am just happy to be a part of it. Just for the record, I am very proud of Joanna. It is a brave thing to do. During my time in the Otalia storyline, I got so many letters from people sharing their stories with me and Jessica Leccia [Ex-Natalia, GL]. These were stories they had never shared with their own families. There was this self-loathing and trying to come to terms, and being afraid to lose the people they love for being who they are, and so I admire Joanna for being so brave.”
Joanna and Crystal on if they feel they are clicking on-screen as a couple yet: Joanna: “Crystal is fine and fantastic, and I am the nervous, giddy, silly one. We had to take these pictures together and have them on the mantel in our scenes. We had to have our arms around each other and pretend we are at the Grand Canyon. I was all nervous and at one point Crystal goes, “I can feel you pulling away.” [Laughs] And I go, “Oh, I am so sorry. It’s bringing up a lot of my issues.” [Laughs] Crystal: “Joanna is a great actress. I was honestly relieved. [Laughs] Yes, she is a beautiful woman, but I was like, “Oh, she is really good.” It’s a joy. I feel like I am sitting back watching this thing unfold. I don’t know where it’s going, but it’s exciting.”
Make sure to read the entire interview at Frontiers LA.com and let us know what you think of Joanna and Crystal’s comments on their new story and the struggles one endures when coming out, as well as all Crystal has done as an amazing friend to the LGBT community, and Joanna’s personal touching journey.