Actress persists, career now on rise

Eva Trieger

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SOLANA BEACH, California — While Professor Harold Hill may have been a part of Tanna Frederick’s formative years, the college graduate who left Iowa, was bound for glory in New York or Los Angeles where she just knew stardom was awaiting her. However, her road to Los Angeles wasn’t paved with gold, and after her car broke down in Colorado, it wasn’t even a sure thing that the City of Angels would be benevolent.

In a telephone interview, Frederick told me that she remained committed although it wasn’t always easy. “After two years of waiting during which I cried and rocked myself to sleep every night it finally happened. I waited tables at five restaurants and got fired because I wanted to go home for Christmas.” The determined actress went to auditions constantly and hand delivered headshots to studios all over town.

And then it seemed like it was happening. Frederick was cast in a low budget horror film in Los Angeles…that never came out. Such is the precarious life of a film star. While Tanna described her parents as supportive of her career choice, neither was an actor.  Her father was a pharmacist and her mom held a nursing degree. When Tanna received a full scholarship to law school, they were hoping she’d pursue the field. However, when University of Iowa Theater school selected Tanna, her folks understood that she had to follow her heart. “Ever since the age of nine, they knew I was tenacious.”

Frederick’s perseverance paid off, and just recently she starred in Henry Jaglom’s film Train to Zakopané. This world premiere opened at the Jewish Film Festival in Beverly Hills, and related the true story Jaglom’s father, a Russian-Jewish businessman crossing anti-Semitic Poland in 1928. Frederick portrayed a lovely, bright young nurse, drawn to this stranger, but horrified to learn he was a Jew. Originally the script was written as a play and ran for a year at the Santa Monica Edgemar Center for the Arts, where it was edited and perfected by the writer in a workshop process.

Next, this film will be opening May 5th at Laemmle’s Monica in Santa Monica, Playhouse 7 in Pasadena and Town Center in Encino.

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Cynthia Citron reviewed the film for San Diego Jewish World when it premiered in Los Angeles.  To see her review click here.

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“The role was somewhat scary,” reported Frederick, “because I wanted to make the story sympathetic.  I was concerned about how I would come off, but ultimately it’s an enormously important story about how love transcends hate.” I wanted to know how the actress prepared for the role of Katia, and was told that she modeled herself after strong female actresses who dominated the screen in the 1930s and 1940s, including Greta Garbo, Rita Hayworth, and Katherine Hepburn. These women shared a tremendous work ethic.  Despite the Hollywood climate of male influence, they never stopped trying, and they never gave up, a trait mirrored by Tanna Frederick.

Success did find Frederick in 2013, and she has won a number of LA Stage and Eddon awards for Best Actress in N. Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker, Henry Jaglom’s Hollywood Dreams, as well as being named Method Fest’s “Performer to Watch” and the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival “Maverick” Award.

The adjective maverick accurately describes this talented and driven young woman. Apart from being a rising actress of the first order, Tanna is also an avid marathon runner, a second-degree Tae Kwon Do blackbelt, and a devoted surfer. Her philanthropic spirit has spawned the “Project Save our Surf,” a non-profit that promotes clean oceans. The organization collects trash on the beaches and instills water filters to purify the playground of surfers. South African surf legend, Shaun Tomson, joined in on this effort.

Additionally, with Richard Schinnow, Frederick instituted the Iowa Film Festival, now in its eleventh year. The festival runs for three days, employs a number of different venues and welcomes national and international submissions.

Currently, Tanna Frederick is wrapping up a three year long project in Zurich, Switzerland and Croatia. This film is a collaboration, written with director Jane Spencer and filmed in Europe. The project has received funding from the Swiss Government, and features Michael Madsen and an international cast. Frederick finds this team approach enchanting and inspirational.  She told me there are “no divas, no fighting as there is no money or time for it!”

The actress has won many awards and has received a great deal of recognition. I wanted to know of which she is most proud. In 2012 Tanna was named recipient of the University of Iowa’s Distinguished Alumni Award and asked to give the commencement speech! I can only imagine she delivered it to the background of seventy six trombones!  Brava!

Republished from San Diego Jewish World.

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Actress persists, career now on rise