Five-Time Emmy Winner Heather Tom Stars in Vanities

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Five-time Emmy Award winner Heather Tom, who became famous playing the role of the strong-willed Victoria Newman on the soap opera The Young and the Restless, and who currently plays the role of Katie Logan Spencer on The Bold and the Beautiful, will star in the south Florida production of the Jack Heifner play Vanities. Starring alongside Heather Tom is her real-life sister, Nicholle Tom, best known for her role on the sitcom The Nanny; and former Guiding Light actress Sonia Satra.

Vanities is a play that chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of three women in the 1960s and vanities_sonia1970s as their relationships grow while they grow themselves. Unique to this play, the women transform before the audience’s eyes not just on the inside but on the outside as well. An example: their costuming and hair changes all happen on-stage, as time passes in the story. All the while, the transformations are set to classic oldies music.

Vanities is presented at the Parker Playhouse by The Broward Center and Matthew Lombardo. Tickets cost between $28 and $66.50 and can be purchased online at parkerplayhouse.com. Nighttime performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. each night between Wednesday, March 26, and Saturday, March 29. There are also matinee performances on Thursday, March 27 through Saturday, March 29 at 2 p.m., and a performance at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 30.

There is a special “Gay Night” on Friday, March 28, with a VIP reception attended by the cast after the show. When buying tickets online, use the promo code TREVOR and 20% of your ticket cost will benefit The Trevor Project.

vanities_tomI was honored to speak to Heather Tom in this exclusive Hotspots interview. As an added bonus, I also spoke briefly with Nicholle Tom toward the end of the interview.

How often do you get to come down to South Florida?

I get down there at least once a year, because I go down there to do the Miami Triathlon. I’m actually going down to Miami the weekend after Vanities to do the Triathlon. It’s such a beautiful place and so much fun to visit. When I lived on the East Coast, I got down there more…living on the West Coast, it’s not as easy, but I definitely try for once a year.

What do you enjoy most about this area?

Usually I’m in South Beach, and it’s so fun there, and so crazy. The restaurants there are great, and so are the people, and the beach. [The Atlantic] is such a different kind of ocean than the Pacific, because it’s so warm! [laughs] We always freeze our butts off in the Pacific so it’s really nice to swim and not just be cold all the time.

Taping a show like The Bold and the Beautiful must require a lot of memorization and perfection of stage direction to make sure things move smoothly. How difficult is it to be a part of a show that runs five days a week?

It’s a well-oiled machine. We’ve been doing it for so long, and I’ve been doing daytime for so long, that you just do it. And yeah, it’s fast. We do a lot of pages [of dialogue] every day; we tape two shows a day. So it’s very fast, and I think for someone on the outside looking in, it seems kind of crazy that we do so much in such a short period of time, but for us, we really just kind of jump in. We’ve got an amazing crew that we’ve worked with for decades, so everybody knows what their job is and we all have a good time and execute our tasks to the best of our abilities.

Describe what it’s like to play the role of Katie in The Bold and the Beautiful. What aspects of her character do you like the most?

I like that Katie is a character that’s allowed to change and grow. I think a lot of times on these shows, you have characters who can only be one thing. They can only be evil, or they can only be the seducer. I feel like she started in one place and that she has grown into her own woman with her own ambitions. She’s a mother now…I find it really exciting to play a character for a long period of time that has the opportunity to change.

And traditionally Katie has been in the shadow of her sisters Brooke and Donna.

Yeah, and I think that’s been part of her transformation, that she’s been finding her voice and learning how to stand on her own two feet. That’s been exciting, that they’ve allowed her to do that. [Katie being enveloped by Brooke and Donna] is still an aspect of her character, but I like that she has been allowed to explore other avenues.

Is there a bit of Heather in Katie?

I think we always have to find ourselves in the characters that we play. Katie is loyal to her family, she works hard, and she doesn’t always do the right thing, but she wants to. I think that’s certainly a part of who I am as well.

The Bold and the Beautiful has a lot of gay fans but it took nearly 25 years to bring on gay characters. I always found that weird, that a show about the fashion industry took so long to include gay characters.

The Bells have always been good at trying to have a lot of diversity on their shows. But, yeah, we kind of joke about that a lot… [laughs]

But the fashion industry is just a backdrop for the story. I think the Bells really look for story and character development. When they bring characters on, they’re doing it for good reasons, so I don’t question it too much.

In Florida, there’s currently a court case in the works involving couples who are suing for marriage equality. How long do you think it will take before marriage equality is legal nationwide?

I find it surprising, and pleasantly so, that marriage equality is happening as quickly as it is. It’s something that I have been involved in politically for a very long time. I figured it would take much longer for the Supreme Court to hear these cases. I feel we are on the cusp of it happening fairly quickly in the grand scheme of things. Maybe we’re looking at five years, maybe we’re looking at ten years…that’s a lot shorter than a lot of people had anticipated.

It just seemed like an inevitability here…I think even people who are opposed see it as an inevitability, so you have these other laws that are popping up, like the one in Arizona. I think they are trying to push business discrimination laws because they see the writing on the wall, that equality is going to happen, and that it should happen. They’re really on the wrong side of history.

So hopefully Florida will follow suit. In California we beat Prop 8 ultimately, but we still have a ways to go for full equality even in California. But I think the trajectory from here on out is clear.

One organization that’s close to your heart is Planned Parenthood. Why does Planned Parenthood hold so much meaning for you?

I’ve always been an advocate for women’s health, and [like gay rights] I feel it is a battle that we are constantly having to fight. It’s unfortunate in this country that we equate women’s health with one big issue, and that is access to abortion, when women’s health encompasses so many other aspects. In many cases, Planned Parenthood is the only source of health care for women in some areas. We’re seeing that right now in Texas, with the closure of many family planning clinics. That harms women, that harms families, it harms men, it harms babies…and I think this is something that we have to address over and over again, so women and families have as much access to health care as they need.

I’m glad you brought up Texas, because I was going to ask your opinion about Wendy Davis, who is running for governor. Do you feel the people who are against her are only gunning for her out of sexist reasons, that they are afraid of a strong woman?

Well, I think Texas has all kinds of issues. [laughs] But they’ve had many strong women leaders in the past. I think she has an uphill battle, but she’s certainly someone that I support. There’s been some talk about the twenty-week [abortion] ban, and that she might come around on that, so I am hoping she will stand firm against the twenty-week ban, but we’ll see how that plays out.

Tell us a little bit about Vanities. What drew you to this play? Why are you excited to be in it?

I’ve been doing this play off and on for almost twenty years. [Heather and Nicholle laugh] I know, it’s crazy how long that I’ve been doing this, traveling and doing one-offs here and there. I love this play. It’s really funny. It’s a play about women, it’s a play about relationships. The backdrop is the ’60s and ’70s, which is fun just considering the clothes, fashion, hair, makeup and music we use throughout the show. It’s a fun show to do, and it gives me a chance to explore my comedic side. The show also has a lot of heart, and it’s something I always look forward to.

Why should people see it?

Because we’re really good! [laughs] It’s a really fun evening. You laugh, you cry, and it’s a chance for people to go out and have a good time with people they love. Oh, and we do all of our hair and makeup and costume changes on-stage, so you get to see the transformation of these characters throughout the years and I think that’s also very unique.

How does it feel to work together with your sister? This must not happen very often.

[Heather] It hasn’t happened very often, and I wish it would happen more. For me, it’s awesome because I know she’s very funny, and I know she’s an actress that I can count on on-stage. That’s very comforting. And I think we obviously have a natural chemistry, and I think that it will be very fun to watch.

[Nicholle] This is the third time we’ve worked together on a play? But it’s the first time we’ve had scenes together in a play. But I’m really excited to be working with my sister; it’s always fun. I just hope I can keep a straight face throughout the entire thing!

Both of you, and your brother David too, have made your careers in acting. If you had the opportunity to be anything other than an actor, what would you be?

[Heather] My husband and I do interior design work. If the acting thing doesn’t work out, that’s kind of our Plan B. It’s taking up most of our time lately though, because we’re working on a large project!

[Nicholle] I probably would be involved in vintage clothing…I’d have my own little vintage vanities_nicholleshop…or a restaurant. I love food and I love fashion. Maybe I’d even feature some of my own paintings in the shop.

Heather, as luck would have it, we recently finished our annual Interior Design issue. I’ll ask you what I asked a few of our local interior designers: what advice and tips would you give to people who are redesigning their homes?

I would say to choose your battles. No matter what your budget is, you’re going to have to figure out where you’re going to spend your money and in which places you’re going to budget more funds. We’re doing a house right now for Pat Smear, who is the guitar player for the Foo Fighters, and that’s a huge project, but even then you have to pick and choose where your money is going to be best spent. You can spend $400 on a fixture or you can spend $10,000 on a fixture…you have to know where you want your money to go because it can get very expensive very quickly.