Tanna Frederick – Actress, Advocate, Athlete
By Debbie Sullivan
“I was sitting on the edge of my seat, 11 years old, in our local children’s theatre and I just knew what I was born to do…I would act.” The following year Tanna Frederick started performing and has perfected her craft to become a driven and talented actress in film and on stage. Currently starring in “The Rainmaker” at the Edgemar Theatre in Santa Monica, she was designated as the LA Times Critics Choice. The Santa Monica Daily Press says, “The play belongs to Tanna Frederick, and Meryl Strep couldn’t do it better!!!”
Frederick has a refreshing depth of character combined with a giant talent, as the rainmakers in Hollywood are realizing.
Growing up in Iowa gave Frederick a great start. She shared that one must be willing to do anything and everything to pursue their dream and she did. “Iowa is an artistic gold mine. In my community, the adults in the Stebbins Children’s Theatre cultivated our talent and helped foster my value system. I began doing anything I could; selling tickets, painting backdrops. If you wanted to be in a show, you had to wear a lot of hats – projects that made you dig your hands in deep – and there is so much more power behind that kind of learning than just coming in and doing your performance for the day.”
Frederick feels such a kinship to her state and to the people who taught her the craft. “I feel indebted to them for the hope and work ethic they instilled, the attitude they formed and the imagination they allowed me to have.” Because of their support, Frederick wanted to give back and has sponsored the last two high school performances in her home town. “I want to do my part in insuring that this tradition, this building of kids through the arts, always continues.”
In addition, this is her 7th year with the Iowa Independent Film Festival that she founded with Dick Schinnow in 2007. “I wanted to give back to where I began,” Frederick says with heartfelt emotion. “It started as my way to encourage people and share what I learned in LA. The purpose is to create a space where people can become film makers and have a venue to show their films.” Her message is to tell people if they want to be artists, they can be.
Frederick’s passion for extreme sports and for giving back came together when she founded Save our Surf eight years ago. “I didn’t even see the ocean until I was 17 and it was such a beautiful, wonderful thing. “ So when she moved to Los Angeles she became an avid surfer and quickly saw how the ocean was becoming so polluted. “The more I surfed, the more I saw the problems. All of us would see things float by – syringes, trash – and we would collect it in our wetsuits to throw away– but the day I saw a condom floating by, I knew that something needed to be done.” She held a 24 hour community program to raise awareness involving surfers and artists. They raised $75,000 in that first 24-hour surfathon and Project Save our Surf was born. The focus now is to help kids experience the surf and understand our responsibility to the earth. “We send kids to Camp Consurfation on scholarships – the first camp had 1500 kids, then 2000 and growing. The children are handpicked by the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs and other centers and come from inner cities all over Southern California. We are expanding into the Philippians, Costa Rica and Vietnam to install wells with water filters. “Our mission is to teach future generations about conservation – to put the world in their hands through our workshops and provide clean water for the world.”
Tanna Frederick is down to earth and very real. When asked what she would like her fans to know, she replies, “That aging is beautiful – women should embrace that more. Women who let themselves age naturally are gorgeous and breath-taking and their lives show on their beautiful faces. If I have bags under my eyes, perhaps I’ve cried that day – the wrinkles are because I smile and laugh so much – I may not be the most beautiful woman on film, but I owe it to all women to be real. I want women to feel good about themselves so I am honest in my roles and in my life.”
About the Author:
Debbie Sullivan is a freelance journalist specializing in features and profiles reporting, as well as a business development expert. She lives with her husband outside of Los Angeles.