driven. expressive. honest
niki: i decided to do this project with my blog because i know so many women who’ve decided to pursue their dreams and of course you fit the bill. you decided a few years ago to really buckle down and pursue acting. tell me what made you finally do that.
tasia: well, i never, in the past, had considered acting as a career. it was just something i loved to do as a child and a young adult, but somewhere along the way i decided that i wanted to start doing it again. i got into a class at nick conti’s professional actor’s studio and while i was there i realized how much i really missed it. i started getting some connects and talking to people who were doing it professionally and it kinda inspired me. i decided to throw my hat in the ring and start auditioning.
when i started booking things like independent films, some small plays and things like that i kinda got the feeling that i might be able to make money doing it. once i was able to get an agent and do paid jobs i realized that i loved it.
i think what caught me is that when i’d be on a 12-hour shoot it did not feel like work. i never watched the clock. i never watched the time pass. i was just really into what i was doing. it was the complete opposite of how i felt about my corporate job.
niki: what are you doing right now?
tasia: right now i am getting ready to start rehearsal for a stage play which i’m playing the lead. it’s called, untold secrets – the balinda michaels story. it’s a one show date in march. i’m also getting ready to do a play in the drama ministry at my church. that’s important because i’ve tried to make sure that i’m not just acting for pleasure. i’ve tried to find a way that i can contribute at my church and still do what i love.
niki: tell me about some of the other projects you’ve done.
tasia: i’ve done quite a few independent films. one has been very successful and is showing at all the major film festivals now. and i believe it’s coming up on a distribution deal. it’s called breaking up is hard to do directed by tabari sturdivant and the writer/producer is nikki simpson.
i also did my first speaking role in the feature film, meet the browns by tyler perry. i got that role in 2007 and i was a reporter. i started off with only two lines and then mr. perry had us do improvisation in that scene and thank God i was up on my improv skills because i ended up having several more lines. i’ve had a couple commercials, regional and national. i just got my first national sag commercial for dunkin donuts.
niki: who’s been your motivator? has there been one particular person who’s a mentor to you?
tasia: there isn’t one person who’s been a motivator. there’s a collective group of actors. some who are my peers and some who have been in the industry longer than me that i would say inspire me. they keep me motivated by their drive.
being on the set of meet the browns… before i got the speaking role i was a stand-in for diary of a mad black woman. i was a stand-in for kimberly elise. she’s really, really shy and at first i didn’t think she was going to speak to anybody and finally i had a chance to sit down and talk to her. just that short conversation that we had, she was just really inspiring. i was a stand-in which is basically a glorified extra. it’s basically an extra but you stand in for the principle so you get a lot more experience as far as direction is concerned.
kimberly said, “most people were in this position before they got to where i am.” she said, “i remember being where you are. don’t give up. and it’s so good that you’re willing to humble yourself and go through this process in order to get where you want to go.” she was like, “work hard, stick at it and do things like this to get yourself exposure and experience.”
it was very inspiring for someone who didn’t even have to give me the time of day to give me encouraging words. the group of actors that are my peers are so inspiring because everybody is just hustling so hard and it really encourages my hustle. it encourages me to stay on my game and keep my grind up.
i decided in my 30s to walk away from a career that i had been building for 14 years. and i decided i wanted to do a totally different career and i had the full support…
niki: i feel that whenever you’re in any type of creative field it’s sometimes hard to keep the creativity going. how else do you keep yourself motivated? is it your peers?
tasia: nah, honey, let me tell you. you don’t even know the half of it! [laughing] honestly, staying motivated is the hardest part of it all. but my family is motivation for not giving up. my husband has made such a great sacrifice. i mean, look at me, i decided in my 30s to walk away from a career that i had been building for 14 years. and i decided i wanted to do a totally different career and i had the full support… i mean, literally when i told my husband i wanted to leave my job. i actually called him that morning and asked him if i could put my resignation in the next day.
niki: and he said, yes?
tasia: and he said yes. it let me know that he trusted me. he knows i’m responsible. i had been with that company a long time. i said, “give me 30 days. i’m going to work my time at that job but in the mean time i’m going to be hustling to get gigs.” and in that time he had seen my work pick up.
i had done a couple commercials. i was doing industrials, those are corporate videos. you know how your company will have those training videos when you first start working? half the time those are actors acting out the different scenarios. i had really lucked up and got a lot of training video jobs and they paid really well. and they were really consistent. so he saw that i wasn’t just giving him lip service.
and then i had small children. i had to make it work for them to show them not to give up on your dreams and that even when you make non-traditional or maybe unpopular decisions in your career that if you put everything into it and you have the talent and the training to back it up, you can still make it happen. i don’t want them to feel like they’ve made these sacrifices and that they put their faith in me all for nothing. so that’s what keeps me going.
but i’m gonna tell you, honey, it’s hard! there’s so much rejection in this business. it’s tough not getting the part. you feel like maybe you’re not good enough.
niki: how do you deal with the rejection? do you take it personally?
tasia: you don’t take it personally but from time to time when you have those modes, yeah, when it’s going like two weeks and you’ve haven’t gotten an audition do you start to self-evaluate. [laughing] you start thinking, okay, let me check in with my agent like, am i still in the running? [laughing] and make sure i’m not delusional and think that something else is happening here that’s not.
photo by richard mellinger
but as i’ve been in the business i’m learning that this is a high and low business. it’s like really close to real estate to me. in real estate when you’re rolling, you’re rolling. when you’re selling houses, you’re selling houses but when the market crashes there’s a lull. well, in acting, most people are fortunate if they get one in every ten auditions. but then you have to put in perspective. thank God i have ten auditions! you know what i’m saying?
niki: where do you see your career going ultimately?
tasia: i would really love to do film and tv. i would say that i’m a versatile actress. i think that i have talents in all areas but i have a passion for dramatic roles. i think that i’ve been successful in roles that are meaty and deep and gritty and emotional.
in [the play] steel magnolias i played the part of m’lynn which is the role that sally field played and that role had so many layers and emotions and highs and lows and i love stuff like that. it allowed me to really dig deep into the character as a person. the role was older than i am so i love playing roles that are challenging like that.
i played ruth in a raisin in the sun last year and it was the same type of role. although i could relate to her a lot better because she was a mother and a wife and the struggles of a family.
and the ironic thing, niki, is that at the time when i played ruth, you know walter lee was struggling about providing for his family and they were living with their mother and they were all trying to figure out how to make it. at the same time, my husband had been laid off and i was acting full-time. my mother was living with us and we were literally living this life and experiencing those things. so it was just such a wonderful experience to have a role where i could use my life experiences to really bring these people to life. those roles are not only giving something to me, but giving something to others.
my goal is to be in films and roles on tv where people are really connecting with me and i impact them in some kind of way like the role was impacting me.
when i did m’lynn this woman sent me an email later and thanked me for helping them understand what a person feels like when they lose their child. that’s how connected they were to that. and with a raisin in the sun i had so many mothers and wives come up to me say, that was my life on stage. that type of thing is what i thrive on. connecting to people.
my goal is to be in films and roles on tv where people are really connecting with me and i impact them in some kind of way like the role was impacting me. i find so much fulfillment in that. i don’t know but i feel like i’ve really done something when i have those opportunities.
i wanna be like ruby dee. i want people to say, tasia grant’s in this film so i know it’s gonna be good. i wanna go see it. like if i know ruby dee is in it. i know i’m gonna love her, no matter what she does. i want to have a long career where i’m well respected.
find tasia grant:
in march tasia is hosting a workshop series called, “getting your kid in the biz.” the two-part workshops will be held on saturdays and sundays in the atlanta area. the first part will focus on what it really takes to get your child in the acting industry and what the commitment really means. the second part is packed with industry info and resources parents need to get started. it also includes a coaching session to prep the child for initial agency auditions. for more information email at gettingurkidsinbiz [at] gmail [dot] com.