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Interview with Tanna Frederick, star of 45 Minutes from Broadway

Rainbow Film Company releases Just 45 Minutes from Broadway on October 17th, 2012 at the Cinema Village.

NYC MOVIE GURU: At what point in your life did you know that acting was truly meant for you?

Tanna Frederick: When I was 9-I went to ‘Oliver’ at Stebens Children’s Theatre with my girl scout troupe and sat on the theatre’s steps because it was too packed-but saw the show and knew my life path. My friend David Garver played the Artful Dodger, and I wanted to play that part with every iota in my being…Later I got to share the stage for a year in Los Angeles with David Garver in "Just 45 Minutes From Broadway," which is now in theatres across the country.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Which do you find most challenging: comedy or drama? What keeps you going with so much energy?

TF: Both! Without comedy there is no drama, and without drama there is no comedy. Life and art is a delicate balance of both. What keeps me going is knowing there are complicated characters out there to divide and conquer who have depths and wells of comedy and drama going on all the time…There are writers and directors like Henry Jaglom who creates real, beautiful full characters who are not devoid of comedy or drama, but contain both in a full expression of a human life.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Given that you've worked with Henry Jaglom for a while, what important lessons did you learn from your prior experiences working with him that enhanced this particular experience?

TF: Freedom to explore and not be afraid to let go. To push myself past the boundaries of who I am in order to fuse into the character freely and without a safety net. Henry has taught me to trust my instincts and be truthful in my work. He demands that of his actors. But many actors find that amazing and approach Henry for that employment of method. Michael Imperioli, who co-stars in our most recent film, ‘The M Word’, in post-production, was stoked about the way in which Henry works and he and I had the most fun trying anything and everything during the filming-it was like playing truth or dare-in one scene his character told me to climb out the window, and in Henry’s films, there really are no ‘no’s’ allowed…So I agreed to climb out of the window with him. Of course, Michael said, ‘You go first’, and I was terrified I was going to break my something or other. But Henry didn’t stop rolling and we climbed through the window-and luckily there was a piece of camera equipment sitting there and I could step onto it and not fall onto the sidewalk.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you manage to shake off the role emotionally and physically? How has acting shaped/affected you as a human being?

TF:The show was so emotionally taxing I had to do something with equally as taxing for my physical self to shake off the work I was doing internally. So I trained for the LA Marathon and ended up six minutes over Boston Qualifying time...So I now am training for my fourth Marathon with Coach Jason Karp for my bucket list to run Boston.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How well do you relate to your character in 45 Minutes From Broadway? What kind of discussions, if any, did you have with Henry to gain insight about your character in the film?

TF: Well, I really feel working with an author who is also a director I am channeling that director’s message and need to communicate to the audience. So knowing Henry, knowing his relationship with his brother, who the relationship of the sisters is based on, that dynamic just required a lot of listening to him and his life-long struggle of being in a business oriented family that looked at him like he was out of his mind for becoming an artist. Also it’s a lot of laughter, looking back at life and the trials and tribulations of doing something against the grain with a sense of humor, creating a loveliness to moments that were difficult or painful. It’s therapeutic.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that it's fair to classify the film in a particular genre?

TF: I never thought about it. Fair may not be the word. Easier for processing for audiences’ brains is more like it. They need categorical references to how they’re going to approach the film emotionally when they enter the space to watch the movie. I certainly wouldn’t want to have been dumped and then walk into a film randomly – and then find out that it’s Schindler’s List – or something to that effect, because I guessed at the description, and it sounded like the film it would be cheery. I mean, not that Schindler’s List sounds cheery, but you get what I’m saying. There was a girl who reviewed the play ‘Sylvia’ I was in in which I played a dog; the poster had me on the front in a giant pink heart holding a dog toy, joyful, and in a tutu, other smiling actors, as well as the word ‘comedy’ somewhere in the description. Her first line of the review was, “If you think this is a play about Sylvia Plath, you’d be dead wrong.” And the rest of the review went downhill from there. It would have helped in this case if she would have referred to the genre before reviewing the film, or checked out the poster with me in a tutu and realize I wouldn’t be sticking my head in any oven in that production. So I think, categorically, genres can be helpful.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you find the right balance between getting to yourself and getting to know others? And finding the balance between work, family, friends and leisure?

TF: Tough question, no easy answer. I am a people pleaser. I think I always will be. Ask me to take my shirt off and give it to someone, I’ll give them my shirt, pants, and underwear. Not so good when you have empathy to that extreme. People don’t always want your underwear, metaphorically. So I have to figure out when I’ve given people what they’ve asked for, not a kidney. But I would give a kidney if I had to. And a finger, toe, or spleen. So I don’t know how much my therapy has helped.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How fairly do you think women are treated in Hollywood? How would you define a meaty role?

TF:I try to stay positive about the film industry and women, and it’s actually not hard, honestly…I’ve met so many strong, amazing women doing incredible work out here. I think you find what you seek out, and I always seek out strong, proud, creative women who’s artistic productivity is off the charts. And I find them everywhere I turn. I like to surround myself with women who are bad-asses. And I have a world full of them, and I love it. A meaty role is something that I have no clue how to approach. Something that is a challenge, and I have to use new brain cells to delve into the skin of the character. Something that gives me night-sweats. Something that I feel I may have made a mistake in doing about halfway through filming or the rehearsal process. Then, ultimately, something that I can never shake off for the rest of my life and I find solace in because I’ve inhabited and morphed into that role. It becomes an old friend for the rest of my life, if I’ve done it fully and therefore correctly.

NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you feel that the advancement of modern technology is affecting the quality of human relationships? Technology is advancing, but do you think mankind is also advancing?

TF: Advancing and somewhat disjoining from one another emotionally. I think any human contact with actual bodies involved is a good thing. In any way, shape, or form, just as long as you’re not making out with your laptop. But I can Facebook for hours and spiral into that rabbit hole, and do admit I love spying on people and their pictures from high school.

NYC MOVIE GURU: Where within the spectrum of pessimism vs. optimism would you consider yourself and how has that evolved throughout your life?

TF: An optimist dressed as a pessimist. Or a realist maybe. I fight my battles. But I fight to stay an optimist. I force myself to listen to positive thinking books on tape during my 18 mile runs. But sometimes I just can’t and listen to David Sedaris.

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