Tanna Frederick is an extraordinary woman. She has not only achieved a great many things as an actress and environmentalist, but relays an incredible exuberance and dedicated passion for each element of her full life. She expresses a joyful embrace of the present moment with a gratitude for her past and excitement for the future like no other person I’ve interviewed.
Her performance in the theatrical production of “The Rainmaker” at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica is a total hit, and one I urge you to go see, as does the LA Times. The set is designed and crafted beautifully, the story gives a personal insight to both suffering and hopefulness during The Great Depression and the pressures of societal and familial expectations during that era, and is ultimately about the ability to believe in the possibility of love and magic.
While experiencing the play I was impressed with the cohesion and energy of the caste. There was something very natural and immediate about their interactions and emotional expressiveness. I think in theatre it must take a great deal of trust between actors and within each actor to be able to catch such a unified trajectory throughout a show. Talking with Tanna after the play, she revealed that she’s actually had long-time working friendships with most of the actors and that they all do indeed have a close bond. The older brother, David Garver, is someone she acted with as a kid at the Mason City Stebens Children’s Theatre, where she began to hone her skills and explore the world of theatre at the mere age of 9. Tanna and Garber reconnected in Los Angeles while playing in “45 Minutes from Broadway” at Edgemar, which has recently been redone as a film, starring Tanna again. She expressed a veneration for Garver, saying that he is one of the most adaptable actors she’s worked with and actually the reason why she got involved in theatre. Steve Howard, who plays Tanna’s father in “The Rainmaker,” is also a long time friend of Tanna’s. They worked together in “Sylvia,” which played at the Edegmar Center for the Arts as well.
Tanna played the role of his dog. Coincidentally he played a protective and loving caretaker to her, plays a protective and loving father to her role of Lizzie in “The Rainmaker,” and has grown into a protective “pseudo father” to Tanna throughout the years. At one point in the play he lifts her up while she’s kicking and laughing, which I thought for a moment might actually have been completely spontaneous. Benjamin Chamberlain, who plays her naive and sensitive younger brother in “The Rainmaker,” is someone who Tanna has taken under her own wing. She’s worked with him in the theatre behind the scenes in LA and recognized his commitment and natural, responsive talent. She believed that he could share his brilliance on the stage. And wow, what a performance he gives. He relays the character with great momentum and emotion.
Ms. Frederick had nothing but wonderful things to say about her colleagues. And I think that actually says a lot about her own grace, appreciation for others and desire to see and bring out the good in people.
She also spoke about her love for the theatre and for the love of acting. She has and will continue to act within the medium of film. But in her eyes, the feel of the theatre, the community breed in theatre, the rawness of the theatre is something that ought to be savored and enshrined. She eloquently stated, “Theatre is quintessential to the art of acting… It’s the last medium in which you have a complete stranger or group of strangers giving themselves over to another stranger. The interaction is face to face and emotionally available.”
Tanna journeyed to Hollywood roughly 15 years ago from the farmlands of Iowa to the California coastline. Being the risk taker and athlete that she is, it was no surprise that she took up surfing. It became a quick love of hers to be out in the water, surrounded by natural beauty, while taking on the physical challenge of riding the waves. But the more that she ventured out on her board, the more she began to realize that she was floating in filth. This spawned a sense of obligation in her, and Project Save our Surf Organization was conceived of and born. Along with her co-founder, World Champion surfing legend and fellow actor Shaun Tomson, their incredible board of celebrities and celebrity surfers, and partnership with other clean water organizations, they have developed a wide array of programs and projects that educate, promote and empower people to conserve our oceans and freshwaters, preserve our marine life, and enjoy the beauty and fun to be had on our shores.
Tanna has also dedicated her time and energy to yet another cause; cancer, in honor of her mom who is a survivor of ovarian cancer. Together, along with her aunts, Tanna and her mom recently completed the Cedars Friendship Walk to benefit Ovarian Cancer. She is also the “new face” of Camilla Olsen Design, an environmentally conscious fashion line for women whose partial proceeds go to Women’s Health Stanford, (which has no official affiliation with Stanford University). WHS supports research for gynecologic oncology, as well as other areas that concern women’s health.
Part of embracing life is to enjoy, sustain, mend, and express love, all of which Tanna Frederick does, and does with flair. What I really appreciate about her is that she is filled with reverence for her craft and the people she works with and is connected to. She’s come to Los Angeles of course to “make it” as an actress, but she’s not about the self-involved glamour. It’s about the art and the process of creating for her. She is refreshing, articulate, talented and dedicated to her art form as well as to giving back by taking care of others and the environment in which we all live. What a blessing!
You can see Tanna now through March 24th as Lizzie in “The Rainmaker.” Get your tickets now!
Edgemar Center for the Arts, Main Stage
2437 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 9040
TICKETS: $34. Please click here to purchase tickets.