Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an actor and producer based in Toronto. I spend way too much time watching TV, I love to cook, and winter is my favourite season. I fell in love with acting when I didn’t fully understand what it was. Whether it was watching a school play, something on our tiny TV, or a massive stage show, I’d have these intense visceral reactions as I watched. I would want to re-enact whatever I saw, going so far as taking the bulky VHS camcorder and trying to convince my siblings to play with me. I loved it, and the older I got, the feeling never went away, but I went a different direction once out of school. I started working in sales to save up some money but then loved helping people find solutions they didn’t know they needed. It was fun and sort of turned out to be the path for some time. I’ll always love everything business related but feel incredibly lucky that I get to work as an actor, and produce my own work.
You’re someone who was really interested in the arts from an early age, but you decided to go into sales at a Fortune 100 company. What prompted you to switch careers and start training to become an actress?
I always wanted to act, but honestly, I had no point of reference on how to do it. I wanted to try but didn’t even know where to begin. I didn’t go to theatre school, so there was a lot of Googling and trial-&-error at the beginning (and to this day). As my sales career progressed, I decided to start taking an acting class on Wednesday evenings as something I could do for myself. I fell on my face every week, I had no idea what I was doing, but I had so much fun. I did that for about a year when I almost got into a car accident and had one of those ‘a-ha’ moments and that changed the trajectory of my life. It might sound a bit cliche, but I woke up the next morning full of courage to quit my career and give acting a try. Life’s short, you know? I gave my notice, got a serving job (which I assumed was the obvious first step), and then had the equally exciting and daunting task of learning how to act lol. Turns out, it’s much much MUCH harder than I thought, and also more rewarding than I could’ve ever imagined.
Was it more difficult to get a late start in the industry or do you feel like you were more driven to succeed?
I think it was a bit of both. I was nervous to get a later start because it takes time to learn any new skill. I figured I needed to start right away to get on my grind for 10,000 hours. But, to counter that, I’d already had experience crushing it in my previous career. I knew that if I set my mind to something and worked hard, and could be patient with my process, that it would only be a matter of time before I started working in this industry. I do believe that being in the habit of waking up every day and working full time gave me the structure I needed while being freelance to find motivation and routine. The stakes were also much higher having left my career to start a new career, and that definitely amplified my drive.
You play the role of Carmela in the movie, “We”. What can you tell us about your role?
‘WE’ is a very touching film about a man named Ethan and his search for love following the loss of his parents. I play Carmela, an antagonistic bully threatening to derail one of Ethan’s fledging romantic relationships. To give the scenes a naturalistic feel, it was heavily improvised (think mumblecore). We choreographed the fight sequence and mapped out all of the blocking, but this film was a lot of fun to work on because of the lack of script. It brought on the exciting challenge to find layers and depth without the typical advanced prep work. Although others may see Carmela as a bully, I see her as heavily misguided by nurture and looking for love as well.
You also played the role of Maria Mariposa in the animated series, “Let’s Go Luna”. What was your experience like doing that voice work and is it something you’d like to do again for animated shows?
I hold “Maria Mariposa” so dear to my heart! This was my first opportunity to consistently voice a character and though it’s harder than anything else I’d ever done, it is by far the most fun. You get to do your typical prep work as an actor, and then add layers such as accent or cadence, and then on top of that, you have to make sure it sounds natural and conversational without being too rushed, but the energy is full on. It’s tough and exhilarating. I love it and have started coaching for animation to better my techniques and find ways of adding more layers to Maria or any other characters I get to voice in the future.
You’ve also done some behind the scenes work as a producer on various projects. How did those opportunities come about?
Production kind of happened randomly. I was working my serving job, and a friend of mine and I would often chat about acting while working. She was an actor but wanted to direct, and I just wanted to learn how to make my own show. We wanted to create a vehicle to tell our stories, hire our friends, and decided to create a web series called “Some Kind of Life”. This was a massive undertaking and we were very inexperienced but we learned a whole lot from it. I went on to produce and co-produce several other projects, including my first short film called “Motorino” which had a great festival run, including at Toronto’s own ReelWorld Festival. From there, I just kind of fell in love with producing more and more, and whenever I was approached about a project, I more often than not jumped at the opportunity.
Are you actively looking to do both or is your focus more concentrated on acting?
Acting is where my heart is, but that said, I want to take the skills I have acquired over the years and create the work I want to see. I also want to work with my talented friends because watching them work inspires me.
What other projects do you have coming up?
I’m working on a really cool TV show that I can’t talk about just yet, but I will say that it’s really fun, and that I can’t wait for everyone to see it! I’m also working on my own personal projects, one being a sci-fi episodic, and the other a short film that I’m currently writing that I hope to shoot before end of summer. It’s a nice balance between of my own projects and booked work so I’m beyond grateful for everything that’s happening right now!
What goals do you have for 2019?
To keep growing and learning. I want to keep taking classes and stretching myself. I’ve spent the last year really focusing on the feel of the show I’d like to create, and now that the vision and foundation are clear, I’d like to finalize the script and start moving onto the next phase of making it happen. Life-wise, I really want to Marie Kondo my condo,
What advice would you have for aspiring actors/producers?
Start making your own work. We’re so lucky to have iPhones, and the pressure is low. Have fun. Whenever it feels like it’s getting too challenging, go back to the ‘why’ (I always go back to this). It can feel draining at times, a lot of the time, and it’s important to self-validate. Know that it’s okay to be frustrated, but to not get sucked into that vortex of distraction or negativity. Have great friends who will tell you the truth. Believe in yourself! It’s so important to believe that you can. I also think having strong vision and being adaptable are invaluable traits.
I’ve read that you’re a Mezzo Soprano and that you can dance Hip Hop, Meringue, and Salsa. Might we see you utilize those talents in a side-career?
That would be amazing! I don’t know if it’ll manifest into a side-career, but I’m definitely writing it into my own work because I love to sing and dance.. so why not?
What’s your life like off-set?
I love to eat. I love watching TV. I love going to coffee shops. Whenever I have downtime, I’ll book myself a float at a sense-deprivation tank. I meditate a lot.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
My Instagram is: tamararubyalmeida, my Twitter is: almeidta, and my website is: tamaraalmeida.com
Come find me!