Ah, that untimely knock at your front door! Just when you are about to share a kiss with the love of your life, fate intervenes! On The Young and the Restless as Genoa City rang in 2017, Victoria got quite a surprise when her SORAS’d son Reed (Tristan Lake Leabu) showed up just as Billy (Jason Thompson) and her were about to ring in the New Year with quite the lip-lock.
Now trying to figure out what to do with this teenager’s sudden arrival at her home, Victoria has been thrown for quite a loop. And thus begins the latest chapter for Victoria’s portrayer, two-time Daytime Emmy winner, Amelia Heinle.
In 2016, Heinle was paired romantically with Michael Roark as Travis Crawford, who fans deemed as “Tricky”. Roark became a bonafide love interest for Victoria, but with the actors decision to exit the series, that once again freed up the heiress of the Newman clan. Will Billy and Victoria finally be reunited, or will they just continue to have close encounters? With newly-planted Y&R head writer, Sally Sussman promising to focus on the mainstay couples on the show, Villy is certainly one to watch. But as Heinle tells On-Air On-Soaps in our sit-down interview, she is hoping that the road to reconciliation for the two is not that easy.
In addition, Amelia shared her thoughts on playing mom to a teenager on-screen, how she was involved in the casting process that brought the new Reed to the canvas, plus her thoughts on Jason Thompson in the central role of Billy Abbott, as well as her time working with the recently exited, Roark. And as for Victoria’s business dealings, Heinle weighs-in on if she enjoys being part of the Brash & Sassy team or not! Did we mention much fun we always have chatting with Amelia? Well, this conversation was no different. Here is what one of the best of the best gals in daytime had to say.
So, what happened with “Tricky”, Vicky? (Laughs) Fans were enjoying you and Michael Roark (Travis) together.
AMELIA: Michael wanted to do primetime, and sometimes it’s hard to do daytime, and so he made a choice to go and pursue that. We are going to miss him. He is a sweet guy. I had a lot of fun working with him.
Many thought that the Travis/Victoria on-screen chemistry worked so well, and that he was the first viable love interest for her since Billy.
AMELIA: Yes, I thought so. It was nice. I thought the story at the beginning was interesting when Victoria was working at the bar with him, well… I mean “Tori”. (Laughs) Yes, it was a little silly, but I had fun with it. It was different. Then I don’t know when they discovered that Michael may, or may not, be able to continue based on what he wanted to do, but once they knew they had to write him off.
At one point in 2016, Michael was written off the show, but Travis returned with a bombshell that ruined Summer (Hunter King) and Luca’s (Miles Gaston Villanueva) nuptials.
AMELIA: Yes, and that is when it was a little up in the air as to if he is going to stay. So it was a work in progress between the show and him, and so the story shifted, because of that and it turned into something else. I know people liked the character of Travis.
You know the audience is very protective of Victoria, and they won’t accept just anyone with her, but … it just felt like he was a leading man that could work with her. Then the story wrapped quickly with his betrayal with his ex.
AMELIA: I think initially they had Michael coming on to the show and to see what would happen. I liked working with Michael a lot. He was really professional, and he got the jokes around the set most of the time. He would be laughing right along with us, which is nice. A lot of people come in here and they get overwhelmed by how fast-paced it is.
Is Victoria devastated by how things turned out with Travis?
AMELIA: I am not playing her devastated over Travis, because it was not written that she was that devastated. She was kind of like, “I’m going to get back on my horse, but no more men. I am done with men.” I believe this is the start of what our new head writer, Sally Sussman, wanted to do, which is even out the characters, and sort of find the characters, and let everyone show who they are as opposed to just pairing people. Victoria hasn’t even mentioned getting into another relationship since Travis left. Normally, she would be right in a relationship with somebody else.
Did you talk to Sally Sussman about your thoughts on the character of Victoria?
AMELIA: No, not all. I was just hearing about some of the things that were going to come down the pipeline, like with bringing Reed back. When Sally first came here she was in the office one day. I think when it was announced she was returning to the show as head writer. I said, “Oh! This is great news.” She said to me, “What is (my husband), Thad (Ex-J.T. Hellstrom) up to?” Unfortunately, Thad is busy right now.
We love Thad!
AMELIA: I know! It would have been fun to have J.T come back. When I heard about Reed, and that story that she wanted to tell, I thought: “This is going to be great, because this is about Victoria’s family … and he is a teen-aged son, and I have gone through having a teen-aged son in my real life. So, I feel I know how to play this. It will be fun.”
This is great! I was thinking, “How is she going to play this,” but then I realized you have a teen-aged son at home! (Laughs)
AMELIA: It’s crazy! If I did not have my son, August, I would not have known what to do with this, because I also have little ones at home. So when I sat down for the first time with Tristan, I felt like what it is like talking with August. It is familiar to me.
Were you at all concerned how it would look for you to be playing the mom of a teen-aged son?
AMELIA: Oh, you mean because it would make me look older? (Laughs) It’s too late for that. (Laughs)
So, what do you think of Tristan Lake Leabu (Reed)? Were you involved with the casting decision?
AMELIA: First of all, I love him. I think he is a sweetheart, and he is really talented musically. Acting-wise he is really professional. For that age to come here, he does not seem overwhelmed by any of it. He is just kind of taking it in stride. I have not heard him play the guitar yet, but everybody is saying he is amazing. He plays the piano, too. He has all these hidden talents. I think he is going to blow people away with his guitar playing. When we auditioned the guys in a scene with Jason Thompson and me, I was shocked that they were all so good. I remember Tristan distinctly, because I think he was the tallest one, and he came in with this hipster-vibe. I thought, “He is cute. He is like a little Hollywood hipster!” I couldn’t tell which actor they were going to pick. I think Tristan looked more like my son than any of them. Max Page, who played the young Reed before was a blonde, so Tristan was closer in looking like Max than the others.
Reed’s re-appearance on to the canvas came suddenly on Y&R’s New Year’s Eve episode, as Billy and Victoria are about to kiss. Lo and behold … there is a knock on her front door … and who should be there, her son!
AMELIA: Yes, it’s a police officer, and they have Reed. He got thrown off a bus for not paying the whole fare, and was brought to Victoria’s house. He was on his way to Victoria’s, but he had some trouble getting there. He is 15 on the show, so he is a minor.
Where has Reed been? Now that he is back, it seems like Victoria may be having a hard time coping with this.
AMELIA: He has been with J.T. but he is moving to Warsaw, Poland for work. They had to make it really far! (Laughs) Reed does not want to go; he wants to stay in Genoa City so he sort of guilt trips Victoria. In the beginning I thought they were writing her a little bit cold, because she was like, “I don’t know if I am ready for this!” But Victoria lost custody of him so she would really want him back, but it’s been a long time. So I could see her thinking, “I don’t know if I am ready to raise a teenager. I have a demanding job, and two little kids.” And she is honest with herself and Billy, and with other people that she was not ready for that. In the beginning, Victoria is not reacting that well to having a teenager in her presence.
It’s evident that Billy and Victoria are having this push-pull with each other, don’t you think?
AMELIA: Yes, this new story was explained to me in the beginning that it would be both of us in the storyline, and it wouldn’t just be us coming back together. It would be us dealing with this kid, and Reed being able to go to Billy more easily than Victoria. That will create conflict, and will create interesting dynamics between us rather than “Oh, I love you, again.” . I feel with Sally writing the show, you really get to see the push and the pull of Billy and Victoria, again.
How do you view what led up to that moment between Billy and Victoria on New Year’s Eve that gave Villy fans, some real hope for the future?
AMELIA: We find out that Jack made a deal with Victor, so that Billy and Victoria could stay at Brash & Sassy. We were sort of in a celebratory mood, and we go to the New Year’s Eve party. She gets a phone call that Johnny is sick. When we get home, Johnny is not really sick, and she tells Billy, “You don’t have to leave.” She lets her guard down for a minute being New Year’s and Billy said something very sweet to her. It was a sweet moment. They have us doing that a little bit more here and there, so it’s cute.
What does Victoria think of Billy right now, especially coming off of his affair with Phyllis (Gina Tognoni)?
AMELIA: I like how it set their relationship back, because they were working more closely together, and then she found out about his affair with Phyllis. After that, she was really disappointed in him. It was more of, “How could you do that?” The good thing is that they have Billy being more promiscuous with women, so she is used to it by now. Victoria has moved on past what they had, past that bond that they had, and she has had to because now the Billy character has been with lots of different women including; Bethany (Chrishell Stause). Billy has been out there playing the field for a while since Travis came into Victoria’s life. It’s easier for her now to not get hurt. It’s more for her of: “Oh, well. Here he goes again.” But this one was low, because he cheated with his brother’s wife. But Billy is charming to her, and he is the love of Victoria’s life still, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Do you think that because Billy helped blow the whistle on Travis that Victoria feels in some ways indebted to him for saving her from a relationship that was not as honest as she believed?
AMELIA: I think she said that a few times, something along the lines of: “Thanks, for looking out for me.” I also think she knows that he loves her. I think in everything they write for Victoria in story it should have those undertones that she knows she is still in love with him. However, she always becomes disappointed with him. I do hope they emphasize that in the story moving forward; that she doesn’t want to marry Billy again. She needs more time with that, because both of them need separation and time from their recent relationships, and then come into meaningful ones.
I think viewers want to see strong women and strong men on their soaps, as opposed to weak guys and dumb-downed women.
AMELIA: Exactly! I want Victoria to be more like her dad, Victor. I hope they keep writing that. I believe Sally is working on that. I just have to say, I love what she is doing so far with my storyline, from what we have been taping.
Jason Thompson has been at Y&R for a full -year now. You have seen and worked with all of the ‘Billy’s’. How does Mr. Thompson measure up?
AMELIA: He is just wonderful! I adore him. He is a very classy guy and a phenomenal actor. I really like his style. I love how subtle he is and how he plays emotional scenes. Billy Miller (Ex-Billy Y&R, now Jason, GH) was actually a great promoter of Jason Thompson. It was nice, because Billy was very complimentary of Jason. He gave me his stamp of approval. I’m a hard audience, and a tough customer. The part of Billy is a very hard role. So, I was just happy when Y&R got Jason. It’s certainly a different take on the role. All of the men that have played Billy are different, and each of them had their own strengths.
Do you now look at Jason and see the essence of the character of Billy Abbott?
AMELIA: I feel Jason is Billy. I feel the potential is brimming over with story for him, and I hope I get to be involved in that, because Jason is so good.
The scene, in which they break test tubes when Jack wants them out of the lab before New Year’s in an effort to shut down Brash & Sassy, reminded me of classic Billy and Victoria scenes!
AMELIA: This is one of the other reasons Billy is so loveable. In that scene, he helps Victoria figure out how to vent her frustrations by breaking things in the office, which is really cute I liked that they let us play the humor in that scene. I think that is one of the things that people loved about these two together. Victoria was the one that was uptight, and he was the one that kind of loosened her up. So in this scene, you saw that.
Playing the corporate intrigue of being at Newman Enterprises, or Brash & Sassy, do you like that, or do you say to yourself, “What am I doing? I know nothing about running a major business conglomerate!” (Laughs)
AMELIA: No, I love it. I love playing in scenes with Daniel Goddard as Cane, Jason as Billy, and Jess Walton as Jill. Oh, my God! I love when Jill comes in and throws in her two-cents as the boss, as we three stooges try to figure out what to do next! (Laughs) I like working at Brash & Sassy, better than working at Newman.
What are your hopes for Victoria in 2017?
AMELIA: I can’t wait to explore this storyline with Reed. I know Sally is going to write some material for this story that people can relate to. I also like being a part of the realistic storylines on the show, the simple family stuff. Right now, they are showing me as working mother with two kids and a teenager, moving around the house, cleaning up after my kids, going to work in a high-pressure job, and that happens in real life. You are frazzled, and then she yells to her son, “Turn that guitar down!” I love that because it’s cute. People are already sick of me on the set yelling, “Reed! Reed!” all of the time. (Laughs) This story reminds me of the stories that people who watch Y&R loved in the past.
Amelia, you are one of those actresses who never play a false note, and are so realistic in your acting approach, and very relatable on-screen to the audience. Not many have those qualities that make them so endearing.
AMELIA: Thank you. That is a huge compliment. It’s fun to play the material when it is written as realistic as it can be. They are giving us situations now on the show that don’t have to be complicated to be entertaining. It doesn’t have to be about drugs and alcohol, and I feel my character would never go down that road
Now (laughs), do you feel Victoria can be too “judgy” of people?
AMELIA: Yes, totally! I love it! (Laughs) People may not like that, but I do. Here is the thing: You have to show flaws in a person in order to make them redeemable later. There are moments where I will say, “Oh, Billy! Maybe if you hadn’t done this! Or, I can’t believe you just did that!” I am always on my high horse, but it’s funny. I hope they knock Victoria off of her high horse, because it’s fun to watch people have to get back up after being annoying and “judgy”. In soaps, a lot of people won’t allow their characters to look like that, but that is when the audience enjoys those characters the most, because they see their flaws and then you can redeem yourself later.
How do you justify in your head that Victoria stands by what her dad, Victor, does when some of it is downright unscrupulous?
AMELIA: He did go to prison, but that was weird. Victoria wouldn’t want her dad to go to prison. I would like for them to make Victoria very strong where she could stand up to her dad, and the choices that he makes, but at the same time show that she loves and supports him, but also that she is just annoyed by him. For her to just love him all of the time, and for her to be his biggest cheerleader all of the time, that is also boring.
How would you feel if the writers down the line put Victoria back working at Newman Enterprises?
AMELIA: If I go back to Newman that would be fine, but it depends on how they write it. I am sure they would have me working with Eric Braeden (Victor) again, which would be fun. I have been in that office so many times I can’t imagine a scenario, or story that they would write, but you never know.
In closing, do you have a New Year’s wish for all of your fans?
AMELIA: I want to first say, Happy New Year, and I hope this year brings everybody health, wealth, and wisdom. Thank you for looking out for my character and caring that she is with the right man. I appreciate it, and I hope everybody watches lots of Y&R in the New Year.
So, what do you think of Reed showing up on Victoria’s doorstep and Y&R’s decision to age the character to a teenager? Are you looking forward to the story which will feature Amelia, Jason Thompson and Tristan Lake Leabu? Were you rooting for Travis and Victoria? Are you intrigued to see more Villy? Share your thougths on the interviews and Amelia’s thoughts contained within it via the comment section below!