Junior Leaves Harvard for 'All My Children'
Eden Riegel '02, known around campus for the lasso tricks she learned for her role in the Broadway show Will Rogers Follies, has roped herself an even bigger gig.
Starting this fall, she is taking a leave of absence from Harvard to star as Bianca, the teenage daughter of Erica Kane (played by Susan Lucci), on the ABC soap opera "All My Children."
Riegel is shooting her sixth episode today with her small screen debut slated for July 27.
Riegel's list of previous acting credits includes Cosette in the Broadway production of Les Miserables, Sarah in last year's American Pie and roles on the shows "As the World Turns," "New York Undercover" and "Law and Order."
Although she doesn't know what plots are in store for her character, who was last seen two years ago when she left the fictional Pine Valley to deal with an eating disorder, Riegel is ready for anything.
"I'm very much looking forward to the angst," she said.
Fan chat boards online are already speculating that 12-year-old Bianca, who has aged rapidly in her two year absence, will begin a relationship with Leo du Pres, a heartthrob who spent his formative years in European boarding schools.
On the possibility of a love interest, Riegel said, "One can only hope."
As glamorous as the soap opera job appeared, Riegel had serious doubts before accepting the role.
"I wrestled with it for a long time," Riegel said. "I couldn't imagine giving up Harvard for anything."
Riegel, however, said she realized she could return to Harvard at any time, but the soap opera role was a one-time opportunity.
"I talked it over with some of my school friends and my Allston Burr senior tutor," Riegel said. "There was a lot of soul searching. That sounds dramatic, but hell, I'm on a soap opera."
Riegel is not sure how much time off she is going to take, but said her break will not match that of Leaving Las Vegas star Elizabeth Shue '85-'00.
"Harvard allows you to take a five-year leave of absence," Riegel said. " I will be back before then."
Although she is putting her career ahead of Harvard for now, Riegel is serious about her education.
"[Before going to college], I was a working actor in New York with prospects," Riegel said. "The reason I chose to go to Harvard in the first place is I have all of these other interests."
While at Harvard, Riegel has participated in a number of extra-curricular activities, including the all-female social organization the Seneca as well as the Pitches, an all-female a capella group. She served as president of the Pitches this year.
Riegel, a social studies concentrator, said she is not giving up her dream of going to law school.
"I'm not ruling anything out," she said.
And even though she won't be taking classes for the next few years, Riegel plans to maintain her Harvard social life.
"I'm going to be up [in Cambridge] all of the time," she said. "I'll get all of the parties and none of the work."
The staff of "All My Children" won't let Riegel forget her school either. The other day when she was getting made up, two of the other actors started talking.
"You know the two of us can't be the smartest any more," one said. "She went to Harvard."
The other shot back, "She went to Harvard and ended up here and she's the smart one?"