The Young and the Restless‘ Tessa Porter (Cait Fairbanks) and Mariah Copeland (Camryn Grimes) were paired a few years back for the daytime soap’s first same-sex romance. Now, their union is about to go to another level as Tessa prepares to propose marriage. The couple certainly deserves some happiness given all the angst they’ve endured on the twisty drama series. Most recently, Mariah has had to deal with postpartum depression after giving birth to Abby (Melissa Ordway) and Chance (Conner Floyd)’s son (whose birth father is Bryton James’ Devon).
Viewers will have to tune in to see if Mariah accepts Tessa’s offer to spend the rest of their lives together. Is that wedding bells in the distance, we hear? You never know with this show! Below, Fairbanks and Grimes dish on this momentous moment in the lives of their characters.
How does it feel that Tessa is asking Mariah to be her wife?
Cait Fairbanks: I’m like, ‘[it’s] about time!’ It feels like we’ve been together for decades in soap time.
Camryn Grimes: This is one of the relationships on soaps that develops the way most do in real-life — over time. They’re pretty solid at this point. Cait said it perfectly: ‘It’s about time.’
What prompts Tessa to propose?
Fairbanks: This has been on Tessa’s mind for a really long time. It’s the perfect moment. They’re taking this huge step together. They’re talking about having a baby. If we’re doing that, then, why aren’t we doing this? There’s a lot of love and reason involved in this.
Had Mariah thought of proposing?
Grimes: With everything that’s been happening with the Dominic story, there was a huge wrench thrown into an organic timeline. Having Mariah going through that, I feel she needed to be in a good place before figuring out who she and Tessa would take that step forward. Mariah’s been concerned with getting healthy. Proposing wasn’t the first thing on their mind.
What is the greatest obstacle you would say that they’ve hurdled?
Fairbanks: Achieving mutual trust is the biggest issue, like with any relationship.
Grimes: There have been quite a few trials that this couple has gone through. We’ve seen them grow together and not apart. They always find a way to make it back to one another. They make that active choice. They’ve come such a long way. It’s been a benefit to them as a couple.
Was there ever a particular scene that you felt was their ‘this person is the one for me’ moment? Did they arrive at that point at the same time?
Fairbanks: It was during the Dominic situation [for Tessa]. It solidified how Tessa felt about Mariah. She felt Mariah was going through this [separation anxiety] and Tessa wanted to be there for her, she didn’t want to run. That was a huge moment.
Grimes: I’d argue [Laughs] — even though it’s a bad argument — that in the cheating story [when Mariah slept with Lindsay after thinking Tessa had cheated on her]. Even though Mariah made a mistake, she never walked away from Tessa. She thought Tessa had walked away from her and she went ahead and [messed] up. If Mariah had had the power to communicate, that wouldn’t have happened. You saw how they communicated during the Dominic postpartum [scenes].
There’s a lot of talk of representation today. As the only same-sex couple on Y&R, do you feel that you have to be all things to all people? Some fans don’t want your characters to have any conflict, it seems.
Fairbanks: I avoid going online. That’s my way of dealing with it. I feel so connected to [Teriah fans] when I do talk to them. I understand where everyone is coming from. I try to focus on just doing the job that I can with the role, and I hope that’s enough. I love when [Tessa and Mariah] have conflict. Every couple has conflict. It feels more equal if we do have conflict. My biggest wish is that there would be more LGBTQ+ representation on soaps. Then, it’d feel more acceptable if Tessa and Mariah have an off day.
Grimes: The pressure would be taken off if there were more LGBTQ+ characters on the canvas. There are positive comments, there are negative comments [about our characters and storylines]. The positive ones overwhelmingly outweigh the negative ones. My way of dealing with it [is that] I try to caution that this is just our jobs. If there’s no [onscreen] drama, we don’t work a lot and we like to work a lot. Also, it’s statistically unlikely that two characters on a soap opera will stay together. Look at Victor [Eric Braeden] and Nikki [Melody Thomas Scott].
Maybe just trust the journey and know that true love will prevail?
Grimes: Absolutely. I totally get it. I’m an avid viewer of TV shows. When you’re invested, there’s heartbreak. I understand their concerns and emotions when it comes to this. Honestly, it’s really just the biggest compliment. If you’re mad [about a story direction], that means we did something right… I hope.
Would audiences prefer to see the future conflict from within – like having children or not – or from a rival love interest?
Grimes: I think that [a rival] is probably what people would be most upset at, but at the same time, this is a soap opera.
Weddings are a time for families to come together. Might we see members of Mariah’s adoptive family – the Copelands — or Tessa’s family?
Grimes: What a cool job we have? I get to have a fake wedding. I get to wear two wedding dresses. [Editor’s Note: Grimes recently got engaged in real life to actor boyfriend Brock Powell, known for his voice acting roles.] We’ve had a lot of big talks about what we think would be cool. At the end of the day, though, we have very little control.
Fairbanks: I want a family! I want someone to walk Tessa down the aisle. When I first came on, I had a few lines about [her parents], but nothing concrete. It’s always cool when people come onto the show for your character.
Grimes: Weddings are cool opportunities to do some stunt casting. We’ll see.
The Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS