Guiding Light’s Olivia and Natalia: Women in Love? — Part 1: Why They Have GL’s Best Friendship

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  Dayna says Otalia is “a modern romance told with beautiful soapy writing” … Levi says Guiding Light is getting better, and “I am finally happy to tune in every day” … and more. See Comments below. 


The friendship between Guiding Light’s Olivia (Crystal Chappell) and Natalia (Jessica Leccia), two women who live together with Olivia’s young daughter, Emma, is generating a lot of favorable buzz among fans online. Viewers are responding positively to the duo’s friendship — and are talking about those rumors that these two are more than just friends. Our own Patrick Erwin takes a closer look at this story in this two part series. Today, he talks about what’s making this a hit. On Monday, he’ll address the possibility that the characters may be more than just friends.

______________________________Crystal Chappell

By Patrick Erwin

The most engaging story for me on Guiding Light right now is the crisscrossed lives of Natalia and Olivia. GL‘s latest production model (overall storyline design) is to showcase a more “realistic” view of Springfield. The “Otalia” story is one of the first stories GL has done that really gets the mixture of realism and drama right. Here are the reasons why I think this story is hitting all the right notes:

Realism: It’s a great story about two people becoming family to each other — three, of course, if you count Olivia’s daughter Emma (played wonderfully by young Jacqueline Tsirkin). Only love can save the world, indeed! These days, friendships and alliances seem to last about as long as a commercial break. But 

As a viewer, it’s a great relief to see characters we’d actually like to be friends with, versus characters who make us want to take an antibacterial shower after we see them.

with Natalia and Olivia, we’ve watched their lives parallel (and intersect) for a year, since Natalia’s husband Gus Aitoro passed away and Olivia received his  transplanted heart.

The joy and entertainment value of this story is seeing these characters learn to deal with each other and come to care about one another. Other than a nice, limited dose of business intrigue with Decker, there hasn’t been a lot of corporate intrigue or twisted, dark plot twists forcing these two to be around one another. The differences in character — Olivia’s locomotive-like focus on business and Natalia’s faith — have been nicely underscored without being hammered over our heads.

Wednesday, one of the scenes between Natalia and Olivia moved me like no GL scene has done in years. Olivia and Natalia have become really comfortable living together and Olivia felt it was a great home for Emma. Due to a misunderstanding, each thought the other wanted out of the living arrangement.  When they cleared that misunderstanding up, the vulnerability they shared as people and the tears they cried — first of worry and then of relief that their newfound family wouldn’t break up — were deeply moving.Jessica Leccia

Jessica Leccia: I don’t mean to slight Crystal Chappell, who has played Olivia wonderfully (even through some very shady storylines) and continues to add layers to Olivia as a person. But Jessica Leccia has really been extraordinary as Natalia. Leccia reminds me a lot of Tammy Blanchard, who used to play GL’s Drew. Both had a character that the audience disliked — characters that we initially thought were pointless, but came to love.

Natalia (and Leccia) had a challenge when she came to town last year. Viewers were likely to hate the woman who would break up Gus and Harley. And it didn’t help that the story involving Rafe, Natalia’s son, was a dud. But since the focus on Rafe has been minimized, we’ve seen Natalia more clearly. And I think the main reason viewers are responding so positively is this: In Natalia, GL finally — finally — has a potential tentpole  character that we’ve been missing so much since Maureen Bauer’s death.

What is a tentpole character? Well, there needs to be a heart and soul of the show. Natalia has the potential to be that heart — loving and empathetic, but strong and nobody’s fool. Maureen Bauer showed Roger Thorpe respect but wouldn’t play games with him, and I see the same strength in Natalia when she deals with Alan Spaulding.

We like them, we really, really like them: When you like the characters involved in a story, it goes a long, long, LOOONG way towards making that story a successful one.  GL has tried to modernize its canvas by featuring a series of unlikable, ethically-challenged characters like Jeffrey O’Neill, Jonathan Randall and Grady Foley. Some of those stories were a great success and we eventually came to care about Jonathan, for example.

But as a viewer, it’s a great relief to see characters we’d actually like to be friends with, versus characters who make us want to take an antibacterial shower after we see them.


Monday: Olivia, Natalia and the will-they-or-won’t-they controversy.


  1. I actually hope they become more than friends. This couple has me engaged in a storyline and budding relationship in a way I have not been in a very long time.

  2. Great column. I don’t think Natalia is the new Maureen, but I think she’s finally settled into a more comforting character after years of poor definition (which is GL’s biggest problem right now — poorly defined, confusing characters and stories). I would almost rather not have Natalia and Olivia get involved, because I’m afraid their friendship would be ruined, and GL has so few solid friendships (daytime has few, especially among women). I’m also glad that we’re seeing Olivia as more than the pathetic viper she’s been for too many years now.

    And Emma is a great little actress. The My Two Mommies scenes were very cute.

    I think GL has finally started to turn a corner lately. I hope the show isn’t going to be canceled.

    Oh, and thanks for mentioning Drew! I loved her. I even tolerated Jesse thanks to her. I wish Tammy Blanchard were doing more.

    Patrick says: Thanks, Steve. I don’t think Natalia is “the new Maureen” per se, because Mo was one of a kind. But I think GL has needed that kind of warm, nurturing character and hasn’t had one for a while.

    I hope GL gets more time, too. But it’s going to take a lot of eyeballs watching those upcoming stories to make that happen.

  3. They are great together, to see a softer side to Olivia but still a strong business woman, makes me smile. This is the first supercouple I have seen in years on a soap. The looks they give each other, I know they love each other.

  4. These two characters could be so beliveable in a relationship. However, if this happens, they are building it slow. I would love to see the reactions from the town members. I would kill to see the scene when Reva would find out Olivia was a lesbian. Or what would Rafe say? And if Natalia goes out with Frank that would be a fun triangle. I think there are so many storyline possibilities that could go with a lesbian relationship. GL is a soap that has never delved into the GLBT issues as much as other soaps.

    OLlvia being a lesbian makes perfect sense in the fact that she has been burned a lot. However, it isn’t the fact she has been burned by men but the fact she is feeling this intimiate closeness with a woman she has come to care about. I haven’t seen Olivia this happy ever in the 10 yrs she has been on the show. I would love to see—-whether a friendship or more—-for this couple to sustain happiness.

    Natalia would be someone I wouldn’t think would have been with a woman when she started ont he show. But the writers have made us care about these two women. I am interested to see how Natalia will cope with being gay if it happens. GL should explore this for the fact that the story would umbrella into many possibilities.

    This would be a popular couple for GL and would be a shot int he arm especially with Phillip coming back as well. GL is getting better now finally!!!! I am finally happy to tune in every day. From Shayne/Dinah, Beth/Coop, Reva/Jeffery and hopefully, Nat/ Olivia as a couple, GL is rocking!!!!

  5. I love Natalia and Olivia working and living together. I never liked the character Olivia and then I met her in NY at one of the luncheons and thought she was a delightful, sweet, regular person. She was just given these parts that made her evil. Living with Natalia and caring for the two children is a bright spot for the writers and GL.

  6. May I say this is a very thoughtful and wonderful article. I loved reading it. GL has had some incredible writing and Oliva/Natalia’s story has been beautifully written. A modern romance ( I do hope they go there ) told with beautiful soapy writing. The writers took their time with this storyline fleshing it out. Bravo to Jill Lorie Hurst and her vision. I’ve seen the character of Olivia grow and become almost softer but still have that spunk. Crystal continues to wow me. Natalia has flourished in this storyline. I’ve gone from not really noticing the character to absolutely enjoying her character on screen. I actually care what happens to Natalia now. I didn’t before. This story has been wonderful on so many levels. The scene on Wednesday when they realized neither of them wanted to go was just magical. The looks, tears and finally the hugs show how special Otalia is as a couple. It to me also shows how special Crystal and Jessica are as actors. Bravo GL. Keep The Light Shining.

    Patrick says: Thanks, Dayna!

  7. Let me start by saying this story is great.

    With that said, I’m pretty sure Buzz is a tentpole character. All kinds of people relate to him and take something from his wisdom. Whether they take his advice is another story. He is a sybolic part the town is guided by.

    I don’t think Natalia is who you want to make her. From what I’ve seen, she is quite conflicted by her beliefs and what she ultimately believes in the end. She is certainly someone Olivia can lean on, but that is an equal partnership as Natalia leans on Olivia as well. Natalia is too fragile and self-focused to be a tentpole at the moment. Potential? Like Buzz, it will take time.

  8. I didn’t use to watch the show I had seen it a couple of times and wasn’t really pulled in and as I was flipping through the channels one day I stopped and watched it. It was spa day for Olivia and Natalia and when I saw how wonderful they were together even after the fight I couldn’t stop watching. These two beautiful women gave me hope for the first time in my life and I really hope that GL stays on the air and I really hope that Natalia and Olivia become a couple because they give hope to so many people that true love is really out there no matter if it is a lesbian relationship or not. It’s the love that the people need to see because that is what really matters.

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