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Tanna Frederick Interview

September 29, 2008

Tanna Frederick stars in the movie Hollywood Dreams. If you get a chance, check it out on DVD.

Hollywood Dreams

In the meantime, read the interview with the actress below:

Shelia Goss: When did you know that you wanted to be an actress?
Tanna Frederick: I knew it when I was eight years old and watched my best friend play ‘Oliver’ in Oliver Twist. There’s that magical feeling when the lights go out and the air is electrifying as the audience holds their breath and you can hear the actors taking their place and you can smell the fresh paint of a theatre set – there’s that awareness that anything can happen…
I started children’s theatre that year and my first big role was Amy in Little Women. My parents couldn’t afford having me both take dance classes and theatre classes so I had to make a choice – endless pleas or improv? No question.

It was freeing as a kid to see that there was some form of expression that gave adults and children to play and pretend together – not in a self-conscious way but in a way that really demanded abandonment and concentration from everyone. And I think it instilled a certain feeling of importance for me as a person at that young age, because when it comes to performing – the deliciousness of a performance is not something defined by age; children are in some ways more apt to perform without inhibitions and instinctually, and the ‘grown ups’ respected that and learned from us and we learned from them. So I really was in a safe, nurturing environment where people regarded me not as a kid but as an artist, and I them not as ‘grown-ups’ but as ‘actors’. From that time on I spent about nine months out of the year in that theatre, painting the sets, rehearsing, auditioning, taking classes, it was a dream world for me.

Shelia: How did you go about preparing for the role of Maggie in Hollywood Dreams?
Tanna Frederick: To prepare for my character Margie in Hollywood Dreams, I watched and read everything I could get my hands on from the 1930’s and 1940’s…As per Henry Jaglom’s instruction.

I immersed myself in that grandiose bigger than life mindset that film and Hollywood provided for the world, the romanticism of the studio system, and sadly also studied the break up of the studio system, and used that along side a childhood trauma my character went though to plunge her into denial and need.

At first it was an adjustment to watch nothing but films from that period – I got a little stir crazy with the black and white…But now as I look back it was imperative to watch actresses of the Golden Era get what they want in film and in life…There is a subtlety that has been pounded into contemporary actresses in my opinion that wasn’t there then…It was acceptable to be big and make sweeping transitions in a way that is not now. I’ve often been ‘dumbed down’ in commercial film classes in a way that I understand might be more digestible for the contemporary palette but is a shame to be reigned in – in me or in anyone else.

Shelia: What ran through your mind when you saw the final version of Hollywood Dreams?
Tanna Frederick: That’s a good question-I was really pleased with my performance in Hollywood Dreams. From ‘a’ to ‘z’ I felt I crafted an interesting character and felt good about the way I told the story of this complicated character. It was nice to know that something that I’ve been doing for twenty years paid off. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the musical ‘Sunday In The Park With George’, but I made a hat where there never was a hat. And I really liked the hat I made. I also thought I had a big nose. But I figured that would get a little smaller on DVD.

Shelia: If your life was a reality show, what would be the title and why?
Tanna Frederick: America’s Next Top Dork. I really am proudly a dork, and will always be a dork. I wore heels last week for the first time in a long time, to look cute and trendy, and was walking past this storefront and the owner said, “What’d you do to your foot? You’re limping, what happened?” That’s just my calling, dorkdom. Or I’ll try to act sexy and drip hummus down my shirt and into my purse.

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