Interview

ICYMI: Heather Tom Interview

THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

Credit: CBS

B&B’s Heather Tom (Katie) is embracing life both in front of and behind the camera

Twenty-seven years after making her daytime debut as Y&R’s Victoria, Heather Tom is now splitting her time in front of and behind the camera as part of the prestigious Directors Initiative program at CBS. It’s the next step in a path that began when Tom’s boss, Executive Producer/Head Writer Bradley Bell, encouraged her to follow her dream of doing more than performing. “If you can direct daytime, you can do anything!” she notes of her hard-earned acceptance into the program. “I truly believe that. I challenge Steven Spielberg to come and do it. It’s a ton of pressure, but I am beyond grateful and, truthfully, floored that Brad sought to give me that opportunity. That just doesn’t happen, and he’s been insanely supportive.”

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So has Director/Producer Cynthia J. Popp, who, Tom says, “is my mentor. I learned so much from her and I continue to learn from her and everyone I work with on a daily basis. Starting out, I shadowed her for almost six months, and there was no guarantee. Brad didn’t promise anything, but I wanted to show that I’d put the work in and earn my place. I’m not cut any slack, and I’m fine with that.”

With 20 episodes of the soap under her belt, Tom believes she has already learned a lot about the role of the director in keeping the show running on schedule. “You have to keep your cool when dealing with the pressure, and recognize that you set the tone for the set,” she shares. “When you’re dying inside, it’s all about not letting anyone know you’re dying inside, because that’s not their problem! Every time I sit in that chair, I feel like I’m able to be even more creative. I’m certainly more comfortable and more confident. Doing this now, with people I’ve known since I was 15? It’s very emotional for me.”

Tom submitted her short films and an episode of B&B to get into the program. “From here, we’ll meet show runners on various shows, shadow them, and the goal is to get booked,” she explains. “It’s our job to do all the networking and sell ourselves. Thankfully, I can do that within my schedule at B&B but without a doubt, the show takes absolute precedence.”

Though she’s thrilled about the new challenges she’s facing, Tom has no plans to give up her first passion. “I love acting, I love playing Katie and I don’t think you have to limit yourself to one or the other,” she opines. “I’m excited to see where this program goes, and I’m completely committed to exploring it. I like to work, and this is another opportunity to see what comes my way. But I am not going anywhere, and I will gladly stay with the show as long as they will have me.”

"The Bold and the Beautiful" Set

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Though she’s juggling a lot in her professional life, her personal life with hubby James Achor and son Zane (ex-Will), she reports, is going smoothly. “James and I have it down,” she smiles. Of her son’s exit from the B&B canvas, she quips, “Zane is very much enjoying his life in the private sector. He loves Taekwondo and swimming and soccer. He gets that having a mom on TV is just what we do and it’s no big deal, but he will occasionally ask, ‘When are we going back to the studio?’ Aside from that, he doesn’t seem to miss it much, which I hope continues until he’s at least 18.”

The Bold and the Beautiful Celebrate's 31 Years

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As for her new TV son, Finnegan George, Tom says that he has been a good fit. “He really has relaxed into the role and he’s been great,” she enthuses. “I’m thrilled to have him here, and I think he added a huge dynamic to the story. I don’t think we could’ve told the [custody battle] story any other way. He’s super-sweet. He has a nice chemistry with Don [Diamont, Bill] and me, and hopefully he’ll be on the canvas for a while. When Brad said he was thinking of doing that storyline, I knew we would need a kid who is a ‘biz kid’. I know from experience that it’s a lot of work for a parent to have a kid in the business. It’s not just running to auditions and dealing with school. Happily, it worked out well for me, and everything with Zane has worked out for the best.”

On-screen, Katie’s new marriage appears to be going strong, but she points out, “Katie said yes because she wanted to say yes, but I think there’s also something that happens when it all calms down, where you look around and go like, ‘Oh, my God. I’m married! How did this happen?’ ” teases the actress. “She’s still appalled that Ridge and Thorne almost killed the father of her son, so we’ll see where they go with Katie and Thorne. I would like to see them have some conflict; not having conflict on daytime is the kiss of death, but I think there’s plenty of conflict to be played.”

 

JUST THE FACTS

Birthday: November 4

Hails From: Hinsdale, IL

The Power Of Three: Tom tied the knot with James Achor on September 17, 2011. They welcomed son Zane on October 28, 2012.

Starting Early: “I’ve been in the business since I was two; I mostly did commercials and modeling.”

Soap Roster: Katie, B&B (2007-present); Kelly, ONE LIFE TO LIVE (2003-06); Victoria, Y&R (1991-97, 1997-2003)

Take Five: The five-time winner holds the record as the only actress to win an Emmy in all three acting categories: Outstanding Lead Actress, Supporting Actress and Younger Actress. In 2000, she and brother David Tom (ex-Billy, Y&R et al) became the first brother and sister to be nominated in the same year. This past year, she earned her first directing nomination as part of the B&B team.

Must-See TV: “OZARK. THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. THE HANDMAID’S TALE. I tend to gravitate toward the darker things, for whatever reason. But I also love LIFE IN PIECES, so go figure.”

 

SISTER ACT

Tom directed B&B co-stars Alley Mills (Pam) and Aaron D. Spears (Justin), along with her real-life sister, Nicholle Tom (THE NANNY), in a pilot for BLINK, a digital series. “This was a project that we developed together; Nicholle wrote it and I consulted on it, so it was something we were producing together,” she explains of working with her sis. “We are siblings and so we absolutely argue, but we were very much on the same page as far as the vision for what we wanted and how we wanted it to go. I wanted to make sure our roles were really defined before we started, and we had to remind each other of that a couple of times [laughs] but overall, it wasn’t a hard shoot — although I got to the end of the first day and I was like, ‘What have I done?’ But ultimately, it all came together.”

 

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