Sometimes you meet a person who, within minutes of opening their mouth, you know is “just like you.” Your eyes light up, you feel a surge of energy and you think, “Yes! This is me. This is who I am. This person is My Tribe.” Actress Tanna Frederick is one of these people. Living by her own no-nonsense rules, she’s not afraid to state her opinion. Talking to her is like basking in the sun: you feel inspired to try something new, go for your dreams and live life to its fullest. And she makes you feel rockin’ awesome, just the way you are.
Originally from Iowa, Tanna had barely seen the ocean when she arrived in Los Angeles after her college graduation. With her fearless spirit, she had soon broken her nose while trying to surf, trained for a marathon and written an effusively flattering letter to indie filmmaker Henry Jaglom in an attempt to land a role in one of his movies. Next month, she stars in The “M” Word, her fifth movie with Jaglom who is now also her husband. The film portrays Tanna as a woman whose mother (played by Frances Fisher) moves in with her while going through menopause. Naturally, hilarity ensues.
Authentic, mindful and gutsy, Tanna is our tribe. Welcome to a new section!
1. Use Fear To Your Advantage
“I like to take risks, because my fear of complacency and regret is far greater than my fear of failure,” says Tanna. “I’m not one to dip my toes; I cannonball into the pool. Sometimes I commit to stupid things, but when I’m in over my head I think, ‘Okay, let’s see where this takes me. Let’s just do it!’ I never want to feel remorse for not having tried everything I wanted to do. I might fall, but that’s part of life. The question is, ‘Did your life your life to the fullest or didn’t you?’ So cannonball into the pool. You’ll find that you can handle it. And if not, who cares? At least you know you tried.”
2. Ride A Wave
“I like sports that are really intense and fast,” she says. “Surfing doesn’t give you time to think about what you’re doing. When you’re up on the wave, you’re either going to wipe out and get hurt or you’re going to ride it. So you have to clear your mind. You have to take a risk and just go for it. All those voices in your head? Suddenly, they quiet down and you’re in the moment. You’re a part of something greater than yourself, and you have to concentrate to get to shore. There’s something about being in the water and opening yourself up to a situation and a risk. You feel an alertness that is far different from anything you’d get at the gym. In a way, it’s a good metaphor for how to live your life.”
3. Your Body Is Beautiful — Use It!
“Los Angeles is a tough city. When I first came here, casting directors would tell me that I wouldn’t get any parts unless I changed my look. They would point out all kind of flaws and ask me to have cosmetic surgery. My nose was one example. I had broken it three times: one time on stage, one time surfing and one time doing taekwondo. But my mother always told me that my body is not beautiful because of what it looks like, but because of what it can do. So every time I’d feel upset, I’d go for a run. I pushed myself and trained for a marathon. I learned that there’s a wonderful sense of validation knowing that you can run 26 miles without stopping. Or stand on your head in yoga. Or swim in the ocean. Being able to use my body, I had proof that I have beautiful qualities: I’m tenacious, dedicated and I never give up. And my nose? It’s still not fixed.”
4. You’re Never Too Old To Live Out Loud
“The idea that you can’t try new things or do certain stuff because you’re older is total bullshit. There are so many women in their eighties who are still kicking ass. One day when I was getting out of the surf in Malibu, a woman in her seventies came up to me and said, ‘I just want you to know that what you did out there today was really brave.’ She’d been out there with me, a far better surfer than I am. She was cool, graceful and strong. I later found out she was a former pro surfer. As I get older, I realize how many wonderful risk takers I’m surrounded by. There are women who live their entire lives doing what they feel passionate about. They don’t ‘retire.’ They live their passion until the end. And that’s beautiful.”
5. I Promise You, Wrinkles Are Cool
“Oh, you don’t think so? Look at Maggie Smith. She’s bad ass! If we’re lucky, we will all age. And you have to decide if it’s going to be a fight or if you will embrace it as a beautiful part of life. I love the idea of a wrinkle being a symbol for every time you laughed or cried in your life. It shows that you lived, and that you lived fully. I know this might sound nuts, but think about your face as the Grand Canyon. People travel all over the world to see the beauty of those creases in the earth. Of course, I also freak out about my body and the thought of getting more and more wrinkles. But at the end of the day, I want to show up to my family photos when I’m eighty with all the marks and creases of a life well lived.”
Top photograph by Andrea Ross Greene. Surf photographs by Roger Morante.
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