There are those folks in the entertainment business who seem to never stop. They love what they do so much that they don't want to slow down. Tanna Frederick is one of those people. BFTV recently caught up with the multi-talented actress to discuss her upcoming movies, her theatre career, and just what gives her the boundless energy that makes her so endearing.
"I have a lot of stuff going on. It's been quite a year," she enthused, speaking to us while preparing to complete her run in Richard Nash's critically acclaimed play The Rainmaker. "I've gotten to run a show for a year in Los Angeles, which is harder than freezing an ice cube in hell," she laughed. "It's very difficult."
While starring in The Rainmaker, Tanna also shot the feature film Ovation with her longtime collaborator, writer-director Henry Jaglom. Focusing on the backstage life of theatre actors, it also stars James Denton (Desperate Housewives). "I adore him and we had so much fun in that," she enthused. Ovation is slated to be released in 2014.
It's also not the first film Tanna has appeared in which has to do with the 'behind the scenes' element of entertainment. Considering that this is the same world she's making a living in, what's it like for her to tackle a project like Ovation, looking past the curtain? "It's really fun," she told us. "[Henry] loves theatre people. He loves the theater world. I love to be able to translate that for him into a character and help him with the story.
"We've made six films together, and even before that, he wanted to do something [about] actors backstage - never showing what's going on onstage, but you show all the drama backstage. Which is very clever, because most of the drama in the play does take place backstage, on any show," she continued. "There's feuds and there's bickering and it just never ends. It's fun to comment on your business, and the ridiculousness of being in this industry, and everything that goes on. It's very cathartic!"
In addition to Ovation, Tanna has another movie coming out next year, entitled The M Word. That's also directed and co-written by Jaglom, and the cast includes Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos), Corey Feldman, Gregory Harrison and Frances Fisher, who plays Tanna's mother in the flick that discusses a very loaded 'M' word: menopause.
It's not common that someone enjoys a longstanding, productive professional relationship like Tanna has with Jaglom, so we asked her what it's like to be able to collaborate with the same person so consistently. "It's really incredible. I feel exceptionally fortunate," she told us. "When anybody meets somebody that they get along with, that you are on the same exact page with, it's a dream.
"Especially since Henry has his stable of actors that he draws from, I'm working with a lot of the same people. It's almost like a family reunion every film. It's absolutely lovely," she continued, adding that "I love working with other directors as well, and have had wonderful times [with them]."
As busy as Tanna is acting, it might surprise you to know that's just one facet of her talent. She's also written, produced, and directed for the stage, and is aiming to direct her first feature film next year. Plus, she founded the charity Project Save Our Surf (projectsaveoursurf.org), which is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of our oceans, freshwater and marine life.
It's her intention not to be defined by just one job description. "I feel like if you're going to do something, whatever you're doing professionally, you should learn everything about it and try and be doing it all the time," Tanna explained. "Instead of taking [acting] classes, I do theater all the time and I never stop, and I never stop reading scripts. The more I do, the better I'll get."
Then there's the fact that she has something that can't be taught: a true love for the entertainment industry, not just as it serves her own career, but as an institution that she lives and breathes to be a part of. In this crazy Hollywood world, it's the dreamers like Tanna who keep the magic alive for the rest of us. Listening to her talk, you know that this is what she's born to do, and she feels that way, too.
"My brain is hungry to learn everything I possibly can," she told us. "It's my life's passion, my life's work."