Heather Tom, who plays Victoria Newman Howard, has come a long way since her 1991 debut on "The Young and the Restless." Fifteen years old at the time, she was tossed into the show's mainstream story line as the only daughter of Genoa City kingpin Victor Newman (Eric Braeden) and his ex-wife, Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott).
Last year, Tom won a Daytime Emmy as outstanding younger actress. This year, she was nominated in the same category. Being nominated for the second time in as many years has been a thrill for the actress. "It's a wonderful honor," she says humbly.
Tom displays extreme modesty when discussing her craft and skill. She isn't one to boast or gloat about her acting ability. In fact, she rarely--if ever--watches her own work.
"I just can't watch," she says. "I pick myself apart about silly little things. I might not like my makeup or hair or the intonation in my voice. Sometimes I'll watch a scene and say, 'Oh God! I didn't nail that right. I think a lot of people are like that--hypercritical.
"Every once in a while, when I tape a show that feels good, I'll watch just to see how I've done. I know that if I like it, then it's probably pretty good, because I don't like anything!" she says with a laugh.
Among the work she has liked recently have been her spats with her on-screen mom, Thomas Scott.
"I love working with Melody," boasts Tom. "And I love our mother-daughter fights. They're so much fun. Melody kind of gets this crazy look in her eye when we're doing them, and it's like, 'whoa.' "
Tom has also enjoyed playing the many twists and turns of the Cole Howard/Victoria romance.
"It was very interesting the way the writers wrote that," she says. "They gave Cole (J. Eddie Peck) and Victoria chemistry without giving away their story (plans for the couple) right away. I thought it was very cool how they eventually came together. Fans seemed to like it, too."
Off-screen, Tom's love life with actor Chad Allen of CBS' "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," has been the subject of numerous tabloid articles. Responding to the rumors, Tom says: "We're friends; we date and we have a great relationship."
Besides work and attending college, there is barely time for anything else in this 18-year-old's life.
"Right now, I'm taking extension courses at UCLA," she says. "The average age (of my classmates) is 35. So it's not really like going to school. I'm taking classes. It's not like I'm in college, just because I don't do any of the sorority things or the college parties. When I go to school, I want to wear sweats and no makeup, pull my hair back into a ponytail and work."
A devoted student, Tom prefers concentrating her efforts on her studies--particularly writing.
"Writing is kind of a cathartic experience for me," she says. "I have so many stories running around in my head. It's nice to put them down on paper and get credit for them."
\o7 "The Young and the Restless" airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on CBS.\f7