Soap Opera Weekly: Are you still in Boston?
Heather Tom: No I had to come back this morning to go to work.
Weekly: How did your participation in the event come about?
Tom: I was working with Planned Parenthood for a long time, I’m on their board of advocates. We did Daytime for Planned Parenthood last year. So they had me come. It was their kick-off party for the Democratic National Convention. I spoke, [as did] Gloria Steinem and Gloria Feldt (President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund). It was fun, I had a really good time.
Weekly: Was this the first time you met Gloria Steinem?
Tom: Yeah, and we went out to dinner afterward and we talked. She’s an icon. Bree Williamson (Jessica) went up there, too, so they met.
Weekly: I understand there were more than 500 people there.
Tom: Yeah, it was very full. It was a little nerve-racking. I’ve gotten up and spoken at places before but not necessarily with this clientele. So I was a little nervous but I felt good about it and I had a fun time doing it.
Weekly: Any soap fans in that bunch?
Tom: Oh, yeah. It’s really amazing because daytime reaches so many different groups of people and a lot of young women were at this event and a lot of them watch. And as well as the older people that were there. It is interesting to go out and meet your average soap fan at these events sometimes, but a lot of people watch that you normally wouldn’t think would. Gloria said that she actually wrote an article about daytime television back in the ’70s.
Tom: I know! She said, “I can’t really remember exactly what it was, but I was comparing it to the films that African-Americans did in the late ’60s and early ’70s that gave them a voice.” It was comparing that to daytime, giving women a voice. The men on daytime had to kind of sit up and pay attention.
Weekly: Did you meet Alexandra Kerry?
Tom: Yes. She also spoke and she was very nice.
Weekly: Is she a member of Planned Parenthood?
Tom: Yes, and Kerry is a big supporter of Planned Parenthood, as is his wife and Sen. Edwards. Planned Parenthood does a lot of things, and it kind of always gets boiled down to one issue, one word even: abortion. And our platform is a lot more broad than that. It includes medically responsible and accurate sex education in schools, and access to contraception, and access to health care and gynecological care for women. So it has a lot of different things and different services that it provides. So, yeah, these candidates really do support Planned Parenthood and family planning, in a big way.
Weekly: Have you had a chance to meet John Kerry yet?
Tom: Yeah. I actually met him at an event about a year ago in California with Eric Braeden (Victor, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS). I also went to an event here a couple of weeks ago for women in politics and he spoke, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton spoke. So it was a nice event.
Weekly: Are you going to be tuning into CNN all week to watch the convention?
Tom: I’ve been checking it out, yes. It’s a bit disappointing that network television isn’t devoting a whole lot of time to it. But I think it’s interesting because Kerry’s really set a tone. Gloria Feldt rehearsed her speech and she actually had to take a lot of things out because they don’t want [too much] negativity and certainly nothing that would come close to bashing Bush. And so they really want to keep this about the issues and what John Kerry is going to do, rather than what George Bush has done. I think that that’s a good way to go about things to keep it positive and on target on the issues.
NOTE: Heather Tom will be working with the non-partisian Get Out The Vote organization called SheVotes.org this election season. The goal of SheVotes.org is to get out the vote of the 35 million women who sat home the last presidential election. Single women of America, ages 25 to 35, vote much much less than their married counterparts. According to Tom, “We need to change that and empower these women. Women can make a huge difference in this election.”