It’s one thing for the viewers to be shocked by a character coming out, but it’s another when the actress who plays the character had no suspicions that she was in her second season of playing a lesbian. That was the case for “HawthoRNe’s” Vanessa Lengies, who plays Kelly Epson.
When I read it, I was like, ‘Really? I didn’t picture that,'” Lengies, 25, tells Zap2it. “But, it’s so fantastic that I didn’t picture that and that it seems so unexpected.”
There was some elegance in the way that Kelly came out. It was just a statement to a teen patient who was struggling with her own sexuality. Kelly told the patient she was lesbian to help her see that she wasn’t alone. She then returned to her duties, just another nurse at James River Hospital, who saw no need to talk about her sexuality until that very moment.
“Again, another thing I like about what ‘HawthoRNe’ does – it brings awareness,” Lengies tells us. “It’s like you know what? No one has to be a screaming lesbian or a screaming gay person. You don’t have to be so on-the-nose for every character you see on TV. People who play a gay or lesbian don’t have to be stereotypes of what society deems if you’re gay.”
Lengies’ character hasn’t had an easy time of it on the show and after she went through the traumatic experience of a baby’s death, she was ready to throw in the towel. In the second season, Kelly decided to come back with a new take on life and she has faced her fear head on by becoming a pediatric nurse.
“I think my character is Season 1 didn’t really understand what it would take to be a nurse fulltime,” says Lengies. “It seemed like she learned all that she needed to know in all the schoolbooks she had read. And then once she was faced with a real life situation, she really didn’t handle it well. She was very timid and totally overwhelmed. This year is different. She has grown some balls.”
Of course, Lengies knows that when one plays a gay character, it can be like walking on thin ice. Thankfully, she has the approval of a very important focus group.
“I just think it’s an interesting storyline and I like the way they approached it,” she tells us. “And, all my gay friends love it, too. They’re like, ‘Welcome to our side!’ and I’m like, ‘Thank you for having me.'”