Tamara Braun is well known to daytime television audiences. The actress has appeared as memorable characters on “All My Children,” “General Hospital” and on “Days of Our Lives” for which she won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress as Ava Vitali.
Now she is appearing on stage in a production of Joe Besecker’s play “Tennessee in The Summer.” The actress took time out from her busy rehearsal schedule to talk to Daytime TV Examiner.
Check out the interview below:
Phyllis: How did you get involved in “Tennessee in The Summer?”
Tamara: My dear friend and director Sal Romeo approached me with it. He told me about the character and once I read the beautiful play, written by Joe Besecker, I was compelled to be a part of it.
Phyllis: What was your interest in during a play at this time?
Tamara: My interest was in the material. The play is beautifully written and I was moved by it. So that is where my interest came from.
Phyllis: Talk a little about your character, Woman.
Tamara: The character that I play, Woman, is the anima to Tennessee’s character. I am the voices inside his head; the inner critic, the doubter, the trouble maker, the punisher, the sex, the instigator, the demons.
Phyllis: You’ve created characters and have also been a recast on soaps. What is your approach about bringing a character like Woman to life?
Tamara: When I read this play, I felt Woman in my bones. I heard and felt her rhythms. It’s a great thing when that happens. And then once I started breaking down the script I realized that Tennessee is Woman and Woman is Tennessee but they just that they handle things differently. They each react to the same situation in different ways. I am the war in Tennessee’s head. The contrarian.
Phyllis: Do you remember your first day on the set working as a professional actress? What was that experience like?
Tamara: My first paid job was an industrial film (teaching film) for Discovery Zone which was an indoor playground and learning center for kids. I was so excited. It was the first audition I ever had in Chicago and I booked it. We shot out of town. I was excited and terrified. They changed the shooting schedule and what I had memorized for the day was not what we were shooting. So I struggled with the tons of new dialogue and the director told me that maybe he hired the wrong girl. Great confidence booster. They took a ten minute break and I got my head together and I got through it.
Phyllis: You won an Emmy for your role as Ava on “Days of Our Lives.” What was your experience working on that show?
Tamara: I had a great time playing Ava on “Days.” I was there doing that role at a time when Ed Scott was producing and he really changed that show. The year he was producing the show garnered more Emmy nominations than it had in something like 12 years. Anyway, Ed gave me such freedom to just fly with Ava. He told me to just do what I do. It was such a gift to have that freedom as an actor. I trusted him and the directors and the actors I got to work with. It was a great 6 months. A great role.
Phyllis: You were on All My Children in a ground breaking role. You and Eden Riegel, as Bianca and Reese, had the first same sex wedding on daytime television. What was it like to be a part of an historic television event?
Tamara: When “All My Children” approached me with the role of Reese and told me that they wanted me to be part of the first same sex wedding on daytime, I was so excited. I believe in Equal rights for all human beings and jumped at the opportunity help bring same sex marriage into the forefront on daytime. I just don’t see the problem with two people who love one another getting married. So many heterosexual marriages are formed for a whole host of reasons outside of love which baffles my mind. Perhaps that is why the divorce rate is so high. If two people who love each other want to marry and raise children it should be their right; opposite sex, same sex, whatever. Love is love.
Phyllis: I’m disappointed that “All My Children” and “One Life To Live” are no longer on the air. “Days” is restructuring again. What is your opinion about the state of daytime television and the four remaining soaps struggle to survive?
Tamara: It’s been a rough few years for Soaps. GH just got renewed and kept its spot on Daytime. I’m so happy about that. The fans want their soaps. They’ve had them for years. Tell me what other TV format has lasted as long as soap operas. It’s sad to see them go off the air for a lot I reasons. For the fans, the actors and crew who are out of work, for the genre. But there are 4 remaining and hopefully they will continue to plug along. I think there is a great opportunity to continue soaps on the Internet as well. The model just hasn’t been made or proven yet. The fans want their soaps and the characters that have become part of their lives. There is a way to make money and that has become the bottom line, so they need to figure out how to do it in a new structure. But as I said, 4 soaps remain and I’m happy for it.
Phyllis: What do you miss most about working on daytime dramas, if anything?
Tamara: I miss working as an actor every day in a role I love. I miss being able to stretch and grow every day and I miss the sense of family that certain sets can foster. When you are happy on a set it’s nice to know where you are going each day and the sense of family it can bring. But I am lucky that I have kept friends, good friends, from all of the shows I have worked on It’s a blessing, really.
Phyllis: Do you prefer acting for television, film or for the stage? Do you prepare for one differently than the other?
Tamara: I like the subtleties that film and TV allow that theatre does not. The camera does not lie. It picks up thought and inner life. But with film you have to wait so long to see the final product. TV airs much quicker than film and daytime…such quick turnaround but often I was too busy to watch.
In theatre, the audience becomes another entity to your performance. You try and not let them change your performance but inevitably one is affected by it. We are affected by people’s energy in life so of course we will be affected in the theatre. If the audience is with you on a certain night it can propel your performance to great heights and if they are not really with you (and the cast takes it in) then unfortunately the performance can feel off…in terms of preferring one more than others… I like them all for the challenges that each bring.
Phyllis: If you could remake any movie with yourself in the lead, what would it be?
Tamara: I would never want to remake a movie that I love because I would no longer love it for the same reasons. I think when remakes of great movies with actors people love are done; some type of magic has been lost. Now, I think this is for the greats. If a movie that wasn’t received well the first time around and can be improved upon maybe that’s not a bad reason to do a remake. But at the moment I can’t think of a flop that would make a good remake. I’ll have to get back to you on that one. :)
Phyllis: When did you first know you wanted to become an actor?
Tamara: I always wanted to act but I had a real confidence problem as a young person. I also wanted to do the “right” thing and not be a disappointment to my family so I tried to go down a road of a (somewhat) guaranteed job and success by studying psychology in school. I thought that I would be a child psychologist (possibly for the deaf) and we would do a lot of role playing. I thought that would give me my fix. Along with my Psych classes, I found myself taking as many courses as I could in theatre and drama as the school would allow. I was so inspired and moved by those courses and by the plays I would go see. I would ache when I would see a play. I ached because I wanted to be on the stage, doing what the actors were doing. I knew something was really missing. I decided that if I didn’t follow my heart and my passion then I would spend my life playing the “what if” or the “I could have” or the “I almost” game. I didn’t want that kind of regret. Honestly, the ache I felt at not being on stage was the same kind of ache one feels at the loss of true love. So I guess in a way it was my true love.
Phyllis: What advice would you give to young actresses just entering the business of acting?
Tamara: Oh my. I don’t know what advice I would give for young people starting out in the business. It has changed so much from when I started. The business is so different from the craft though. So, first off I would say, study, learn, and hone your craft. You want to be ready when your opportunities come. And then I would say make your opportunities. Everyone has access to a camera. You can create and make films, TV shows, and interesting projects and put them up on you tube or social media sites. There are so many ways to create content now that were not feasible when I started out. Do plays. Focus, work hard, have a plan, don’t get caught up in playing around. Like the saying goes, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” Time moves so quickly. Youth is passion and energy. Focus that passion and energy now into what you want and be professional.
Phyllis: What is your favorite vacation spot?
Tamara: I love Hawaii. The air is the most healing and rejuvenating. I feel energy in Hawaii that restores and calms me at the same time. It’s a magical place. I drove the road to Hana when I was in Maui and the geographical terrain changes so much along the way. Mother nature is such a strong, artistic and creative force. I am blown away by her magic and the visual feasts she bestows upon us.
Phyllis: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions. I look forward to seeing the show.
“Tennessee In The Summer” runs through May 20, 2012 at Sidewalk Studio Theatre in
Burbank. For more info and ticket availability, visit: www.brownpapertickets.com.
For more information and tickets to the play, please call 818-558-5702 or visit online at www.sidewalkstudiotheatre.info.
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