This interview originally appeared in the November 8, 1994 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
Ask Amelia Heinle about her first audition for LOVING and she breaks into a wide grin. “I was a mess,” she laughs. “I didn’t even consider that I had much of a chance.” She’s not being melodramatic — the aspiring actress was on an hour-long break from her coat-checking job at a Manhattan fashion show and had to fight midtown traffic to get to the ABC studios. Too bad the cab dropped her off at ONE LIFE TO LIVE instead of LOVING. Heinle ran several blocks through pouring rain to reach the right studio. During her reading, Heinle was distracted by her disheveled appearance. “They hate me,” she recalls thinking. “My hair is in my face and my clothes are all wet.”
Hate? Hardly. Despite the audition from hell, Heinle snagged the role of LOVING’s Stephanie Brewster. In the year and a half since she joined the show, Steffi has matured from a college student smitten with Casey Bowman to a fashion model and the object of Alden men’s affections. Heinle has grown as well. “Before I got LOVING, I had no responsibilities whatsoever,” the actress smiles. “Make sure you have food and make sure you have fun … basic needs.”
Heinle’s ties to Corinth strengthened when LOVING signed veteran actor Nancy Addison Altman to play Steffi’s social climbing mother, Deborah. On-camera, the two share an adversarial relationship; off-screen, they’ve become fast friends. “She is the coolest person,” Heinle enthuses about Addison Altman. “She is full of knowledge. She gives me advice after we are done with our scenes. She’ll go, ‘Amelia, come in here for a second; I have something to tell you.’ I feel really close to her and she has only been on a short time.”
Heinle’s real-life family is just as nurturing. Support — and plenty of it — is something she could always count on. The oldest of five children, Heinle says that she “wouldn’t change one single thing” about her Arizona upbringing, where her flair for the dramatic flourished. “We had a picnic table in the backyard and I would line [my siblings] up and do plays for my mom and dad for Mother’s Day.”
Which isn’t to say life was always idyllic. Take, for instance, the year her parents uprooted the family and moved East. The switch from private to public school, not to mention leaving a boyfriend behind, was tough for the 15-year-old. “In school, I would talk to [friends] and hang out,” she recalls. “But when I went home, I stayed home. I was always dyeing my hair different colors. I was removed from high school — I wasn’t very happy there.” In retrospect, Heinle views the move to Cherry Hill, New Jersey as a godsend. “It is like someone gave me a golden opportunity and I didn’t realize it.”
Fresh out of high school and uncertain about her future, Heinle took a sightseeing trip to Manhattan and had the gumption to walk into a commercial agency. “They had me read an RC Cola ad. ‘RC Cola’s real good,’ Heinle mimics. Their reaction? “’Wait — we love you. Sign here.’” The commercial agency, in turn, referred her to a modeling agency, which encouraged her to move to New York City immediately. Informing her parents that she was moving to Manhattan was surprising easy. “My whole life they have been very watchful of me,” she praises. “When I turned 18, it was like they took their hands away and said, ‘You are going to make mistakes, but we trust that you are going to be okay.’”
Heinle is trying hard not to make any mistakes, career-wise, now that she’s gotten her big break. The actress spends her spare time with co-star Michael Weatherly burrowed in Manhattan movie houses studying the silver screen. “My dream is like a lot of other people’s dreams,” Heinle shares. “I want to do movies. I think I can honestly tell you right now that that is the only thing that makes me happy.” Her parents are among those who fully expect to see her name in lights someday. “My dad says I’ve always gotten whatever I wanted — not that I was spoiled — but I’ve been very willful, and when I want something, it happens.”
JUST THE FACTS
Born: Casa Grande, AZ
Birthdate: March 17, 1973
Status: Single, but often spotted with co-star Michael Weatherly (Cooper).
Half-Hour Vs. Hour Soaps: “I give the people who do hour shows a lot of credit. I don’t know how they do it. I would have ulcers.”
Strike The Pose: “I wasn’t very successful as a model, but I learned a lot and it was fun.”
Basic Beauty: “I am a lotion and water girl.”
People Would Be Surprised To Know: “I actually do have a lot to say. I don’t talk much at work. I think that people think that I am very young and quiet and maybe a little stupid.”