Actress Tanna Frederick Talks With TV Store Online

TV STORE ONLINE talks with actress Tanna Frederick about Henry Jaglom and his 2010 film, QUEEN OF THE LOT.

TV STORE ONLINE:  Does acting come natural to you or did you have to work at it some over the years?

TANNA: The whole natural thing has a lot to do with just kinda of letting go. You can't judge yourself. You have to be at a certain point where you just don't care. I started doing theater when I was very young, nine years old. I did four-five shows a year growing up, where I was acting with the grown-ups. If I could get into more I was doing that. I was very hungry to be on stage every second I could be. When I went to college I was on a full theater scholarship, and when I got there I started to really get into the technique. It's great to have four years of training, but you quickly find that working out here you have to just let everything go and be a human being just trying to react to the moment you're in when you're playing a character. 

TV STORE ONLINE: But didn't you study something else while you were in college as well?

TANNA:  Yes...I was a double major. I graduated with honors. I studied poly sci and international relations. I thought international relations was more useful that any of the theater work I did actually. In terms of studying behavior and the behavior of nation states and how they react for example, when their country has been attacked, there is a pattern there through history. Their behavior actually mimic's individuals. The study of conflict to me has always been interesting. I've always been fascinated by the whole thing. 

TV STORE ONLINE: On that note....What is it like to kiss Noah Wyle?

TANNA:  (Laughing) I was really nervous. Our main kiss is in that kitchen scene in QUEEN OF THE LOT when I'm spitting food out of my mouth. I guess it was like your first kiss when you're really kissing a guy, and you let your nether regions do the talking. I guess I was on auto-pilot, because I trying to figure out how I was gonna seduce him while I was spitting food out of my mouth. So in my head I was trying to break the scene down in terms of how I was gonna do it. That scene was really pure improvisational. I knew sentences that I needed to get out though. So when Noah came in, he asked me "What scene are we doing?" And I just looked at him, and said "Hold on to the ride baby..." He didn't know that I was gonna be spitting the food out. I grew up watching Noah Wyle on ER (1994-2009) so of course it was fantastic.

TV STORE ONLINE: When you moved out to Los Angeles from Iowa did you experience any sort of culture shock?

TANNA: Totally. When I first moved out here, I hated it. Then all of a sudden I loved it. My parents would come out to visit me, in my little dirty apartments in North Hollywood under the free-way. My dad told me once, "Honey, this is just like Vietnam." He was right. My dad thought that the people, the interactions, the under-handed subtext going on was just like his two years in Vietnam. That's the way I felt about it too. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  So when you first got out to Los Angeles... Did you do any of the cliche things like get a job as an waitress?

TANNA: Oh yeah...There isn't really anything else to do. I did some other things as well. I got a job taking care of this women who was dying of cancer. I worked at a mall kiosk selling re-fills for computer printers. I worked at like twelve restaurants, but I always quit. Cause I always wanted to go home for Christmas. It was really interesting. It was great preparation. It was funny, for example, trying to get a job as an waitress at a Marie Callender's, and I'd just got out of college with a four point (laughing).

Then, you run into other cliches out here as well. You meet these people that tell you... 'You need a boob job, you need a nose job, you need to lose thirty pounds, you'll only ever be a character actress, you'll never be a leading lady, you need to take your clothes off, then maybe I'll represent you..." 

TV STORE ONLINE:  So hearing that stuff... How did it make you feel?

TANNA:  It doesn't really stop. I've gotten reviews where people have said that I have a "5th Avenue Schnoz", and she has a horse mouth and curly hair. I try not to pay attention to it. I've got nice reviews too where they say I'm really beautiful. For me I always listen to the really shitty ones, which probably isn't helpful for my self-esteem (laughing).  But, now I'm getting better. I mean, it's not gonna change. I've broken my nose twice surfing now. I'm not gonna go get my nose fixed go I can go around and tell people," I have a deviated septum and now I can breath so much better." I mean who cares, right? 

TV STORE ONLINE:  Well, instead of doing anything...You could just go and get your septum pierced, and get one of those big nose rings... What do you think?

TANNA:  (Laughing) Right! I think Katherine Hepburn said once, 'Take the thing you hate the most, and call the most attention to it, and from there you'll find success", or something like that. That's true you know. My cousin has two tribal discs in, to stretch your ears out. I'll just get one of those in my nostril (laughing).  I think Henry would LOVE it (laughing).

TV STORE ONLINE:  Growing up...What actors or actresses do you think influenced you?

TANNA:  I'd say more actors. Brando, of course. Bogart is my favorite. I like Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart. I don't know what that says about me, the fact that I like more of the men, the male actors. I like Betty Davis too. To me, she is fantastic in her unapologetic work. She was so big, so bold and board. She never apologized for her choices either. I like that. I enjoy making those choices. Barbara Stanwyck too. She was such a bold comedian. I love the studio system of the '40s as well. 

TV STORE ONLINE: Do you have a favorite movie?

TANNA:  I really like THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) I guess. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  It's been well documented how you got the attention of Henry Jaglom. I was just curious to see if you can remember exactly what was going through your mind when you decided to approach him?

TANNA:  I can't pay rent this month!  You get to a point when you live out here where you just have to say "SCREW IT" I have to try everything. The odds are so against you in getting a break out here. On days that I wasn't working at my day job, I would be out driving around delivering head shots to studio lots and casting directors, I was just pounding the pavement. 

It was very frustrating after a couple years of doing that. So I am very lucky I met Henry when I did. I actually sent out like eight letters to Steven Soderbergh. Then I got tired of switching the letter up, so I just sent him the same exact letter for a year straight! I did that for a couple other directors as well. But the letter I sent to Henry, I actually hand delivered to his office, and the same day, he actually called me, and started asking me all these questions, which was a little unnerving. But I got through them. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  So is your character in the Henry Jaglom film HOLLYWOOD DREAMS (2006) you?

Justin Kirk and Tanna Frederick in HOLLYWOOD DREAMS
TANNA:  There are similarities of course. But I had a friend in high school that we based the character around, cause she has just a great and funny personality. Then I took all these horror stories that I was going through with roommates about this audition and this casting director and incorporated them into the character. I don't really think it's me. There is probably some of that inside me though, I don't know. I really wanted the character to be like "Eve Harrington." That sort of character. More of a representation of that girl. I don't think I'm that girl though, even though I think there is a little bit of her in all us actresses.

TV STORE ONLINE: With IRENE IN TIME (2009) did you have any issues relating to the character since you in fact have such a great relationship with your own father?

Tanna Frederick with Henry Jaglom
TANNA: That was very different for me. I didn't really know what to hang onto there. I've never really dealt with that type of loss, and I've never had any sort of parent issues. So it was really interesting and kinda painful to see all these girls as we showed and talked about the movie, and hear all these stories form all these different women about their experiences with their own fathers. A lot of them were negative, sadly. But it started a wonderful dialogue. It's so painful to hear about all these really tragic relationships that these women had with their own fathers. So, that was kinda difficult, because I really didn't have anything to pull from for that character, so it was all I could do to just think about my own father, and think about just how much I love my own father, and how much I would miss him if he was gone from my life. 

Also, another thing that happened was that we were writing the script around an actor named Tony Franciosa. He was gonna play my dad in the film, but he passed away right before we started to film. So that was another thing I used for the character, cause before that, we had started to get to know each other. I was a big fan of his, and he's right up there for me in terms of influential actors. 

TV STORE ONLINE:  The first time you worked with Henry Jaglom were you scared shitless, because more than likely you had seen the documentary about him WHO IS HENRY JAGLOM (1997)?

TANNA: I remember when I talked to him the first time on the phone... I thought he was an asshole (laughing).  I think I made him mad because he hung up on me! I think I said something too "New Age" or something that pissed him off. I remember calling my mom right after, and telling her what an asshole he was and I told her "Well there goes that connection!" We of course ended up being great friends. And by the time we got around to doing HOLLYWOOD DREAMS, I had actually run about eight months doing the play of Henry's first film, A SAFE PLACE (1971).

I was used to his rants and personality by the time we got to HOLLYWOOD DREAMS. His screaming fits and his whims. I had already really saw his complete color wheel, and I wasn't afraid. I think we kind of found our match in each other. A lot of people freak out on his sets. I've lost a lot of actor friends who have worked on Henry's movies. They always take it so seriously when he yells at them. I've told them, "Look, listen you guys! We don't have a huge budget so we've gotta make this good, and you only have so much time to prove yourself and make your part bigger." When they don't do that, they blame me and their part gets smaller in the film. 

TV STORE ONLINE: As a women... Why do you think some women assume that Henry Jaglom hates women?

TANNA:  (Laughing) I don't know. I've found it so interesting that some think that. That's just not there in the work. The most interesting part is that you either hate Henry Jaglom movies, or you completely and utterly love them. I don't understand it at all. I've been working with Henry for almost 10 years now, and I don't understand why! It's really hard to say. I've seen a lot written about this. Maybe some think that Henry makes fun of women, I don't know. Henry makes movies about women he knows. He grew up around his mother and her friends, and that's what they did. They sat around and talked. He lived in that world growing up. It's what he knows. I think he's really making films about that world. 

Jaglom's latest film
THE M WORD (2013)

Its the reason why we make art, isn't it? We create things about what we love, or topics that intrigue or fascinate us. When he was really young like seen or eight years old, he grew up around a group of women. Certain women shouldn't fault him for that. He loves women. He's a great listener, a great problem solver, a great shoulder to cry on. So for some women who are more independent, maybe their pissed, maybe they think Henry should be out making a movie about women soldiers in the war in the middle east or something. Clint Eastwood makes movies with women in them that are very emotionally closed off. Why doesn't he receive such attention for that?

TV STORE ONLINE: Back to QUEEN OF THE LOT (2010)... How much fun was it for you to do your B movie action sequences for the film?

TANNA: (Laughing) I had to fight to get those in! I'm actually a black belt in Taekwondo. My dream is to be in an all out action film. I wanna just train for like 10 hours a day for an all out action movie. I hired a camera guy who shoots music videos to go in and film my instructor and I doing some fight sequences that we made up. They are so funny. Most of the stuff got cut out. I showed Henry the footage about three quarters of the way through filming. And he loved it. I knew I had to shoot it first on my own cause if I had just approached him with the idea I knew he wouldn't have gone for it. That was so much fun, are you kidding me? I loved the gold lame and fish net stockings (Laughing).

TV STORE ONLINE: I love it too. I really think Henry should destroy the world and make his next film...An urban action martial arts movie. People's minds would be blown away! Don't you think his critics would just keel over and die?

TANNA: (Laughing) Oh my god YES!!!... l love it (laughing).  You've gotta approach Henry about this...It would be so cool (laughing).

TV STORE ONLINE: You're under contract with Henry Jaglom... As an actress do you think this could possible slow your progression? 

TANNA:  No not at all. I think I am very very lucky. It's gotta be the only contract like it in Hollywood. It's more for show and stability. First of all, I'm under contract, so that means that I don't have to worry about work, which is great. Secondly, Henry works very hard to get me into other films. He wants me to do quality work. He tries to get me good worthwhile work. He's my acting manager. He oversees everything for me. I am so thankful for that, cause I think if it wasn't for Henry I could've made some dumb decisions already. Henry doesn't allow me to devalue myself. It's very easy to revert back to a certain way of thinking out here. Like the way I felt and thought years ago before I met Henry. He is my guardian angel. It's great. It's nice. It's kinda of weird too, but I like that about it too..

To read more about Henry Jaglom please visit his official site - here. To find out where you can see QUEEN OF THE LOT please visit the film's official website - here.

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