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Monday, 29 August 2016

Interview with Tanner Jaco...Actress and Writer

Tanner in her most recent play "The Pirates of Penzance" at Artistic CivicTheatre

Tanner Jaco, of Dalton who is a talented actress, singer, dancer, writer and soon to be a director of "The Great Gatsby" to be staged at Dalton Little Theatre in the next season. We talked about her hobbies, her dream cast for her directorial debut as well on who inspired her to act. 

How long have you been acting?
I started acting at 10 years old. My first play was “Groovy” at City Park Elementary. It was a cute little show written by some teachers. It was set in a sort of children’s version of Woodstock, and I played English fashion designer Mary Quaint, the inventor of the mini skirt! There’s still a VHS floating around somewhere of the play; a lot of it is me strutting around, speaking in a British accent.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, what are your hobbies and interests?
I am what they call an “ambivert,” or an introverted extrovert. I love meeting new people and trying new things. But I also enjoy quiet activities by myself, like reading, writing poetry or fiction, blogging, making jewelry, or scrapbooking. I grew up as an only child, so I learned how to entertain myself from a young age. I grew up mostly around adults, and so I had a bit of a hard time relating to people my own age (and still do!) I would describe myself as a very sensitive, driven, artistic goofball.

Who inspired you to act?
I grew up watching musical films, like The Sound of MusicGreaseThe Wizard of Oz, and Mary Poppins. I was always a very dramatic child and adored anything with a lot of show and panache. My favorite actors as a very small child were Nathan Lane and Tim Curry (and I loved Tim Curry BEFORE I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show at 13 years old.) I idolized women like Cher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Seinfeld, Debbie Reynolds, and Audrey Hepburn. My parents took me to quite a few shows at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, and that’s where I think my love for theater started. Embarrassingly enough, the minute I watched the filmed stage version of Cats, I was hooked on the idea of performing. Do not judge me, theater fans, I know that Cats is not the epitome of high art, but I still love it!

What’s your favorite play that you’ve acted in?
Now, that’s an impossible question to answer. I’ve had the immense pleasure and good fortune to be in or involved with over 40 productions. Choosing one would be really difficult. I’d say my favorites have been “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” in which I played Olive Ostrovsky. I was going through some emotional struggles at the time, and that show allowed me to be around an amazing group of artists and soak up everything I could from them, but to identify with my character and put my whole heart and soul into what I was doing. Another highlight for me was getting to do some physical and slapstick comedy in one of the very few non-musicals I’ve done, “You Can’t Take it With You.” A dream of mine was fulfilled in getting to play Audrey in “Little Shop of Horrors” (what can I say, I’ve always wanted to be eaten by an enormous alien plant). Earlier this year, I got to perform Shakespeare with my husband in “As You Like It,” which was so much fun. Like I said, choosing just one as my favorite is just too difficult.

Where do see yourself in a year?
In a year, I see myself continuing to grow and strive to be the best version of myself. My job working for the Downtown Dalton Development Authority is also building momentum day by day, so I look forward to helping downtown continue to thrive.

If you had to go to a deserted island and you could only take one movie. What movie would that be?
Singin’ in the Rain! It has been my favorite movie since I was 16 or 17, and I’ve probably seen it 100 times. I always catch something new every single time I watch it. It is, in my opinion, the best movie musical ever made.

When did you start writing and what do you love about it?
I started writing at a very, very young age. I was piecing together short stories as early as 1st and 2nd grade. I enjoy writing for a number of reasons. For one thing, it is one of the few things that makes human beings unique among other species: we have the ability to create art, to put our feelings into words and onto paper. I view writing as an art form. Another thing I enjoy is the different voices it can give you. You can write with your own voice as a blogger, a poet, or a nonfiction writer. You can write with the voice of other people by creating characters for fiction. It serves as an escape, a method of healing, a way to pass the time. It’s the best way to get in touch with your inner voice and show the world what’s going on inside your head.

I know in the next season at Dalton Little Theatre, you will be directing your first play "The Great Gatsby", this is your first time that you will be directing?
Yes! It's an entirely new experience for me. I've performed, done tech work, choreographed, and stage managed, but I've never directed before.

What do you love about it and what inspired you to direct it?
"The Great Gatsby" is, in my opinion, the best American novel ever written. It explores the universal themes of love, yearning, jealously, loss, and shortsighted ambition. It could be set in any time period in history and still be relevant. Every time I read it, I pick up on new subtleties in the language that just inspire me. Fitzgerald was a genius with words!

Who is your favorite character?
My favorite character is Nick, because he has the best seat in the house for all of the craziness going on. He acts as a great fly-on-the-wall and brings things into perspective from an outsider's point of view.

I have to know, who would be your dream cast?
My dream cast: Gatsby: Michael Fassbender Nick: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Daisy: Brie Larson Tom: Tom Hardy Myrtle: Kat Dennings George: Adam Driver Jordan: Aubrey Plaza Meyer Wolfsheim: Idris Elba

Those are some awesome choices. I especially like Fassbender as Gatsby. One final question, do you have a favorite motivational quote that you go to when you’re having a tough day?
I came across a quote from Kid President earlier today that made me smile, which is “Treat everybody like it’s their birthday.” We could all use a little more kindness. I think if everybody just took a second and really thought about the impact that a small gesture or nice comment had on someone’s day, the world would be a better place.

"If We All Became Of Stars" poem by Tanner
If we all became of stars Chance explosions, Coincidental circumstances Colliding bodies of rock Of gases hot and nuclear fusion Should not we learn to love one another?
Should not we remember that once, At one point in time, We were merely hydrogen and helium Two elements that eventually burst forth?
The makeup of the universe Of you and me and everyone Is beautifully similar Though individually we shine In different yet equally brilliant ways
We are all stars In our core, much like that of the first star, Is a ceaseless light that burns To keep kindled the human flame The love, the endless fight for survival
So we turn our faces to the sun, One of the youngest stars, as if to say That we are not alone We learn together And we shine together

Tanner with her favorite leading man, her husband, Billy. They were in "As You Like At" at ACT in Dalton

About Maria Rochelle

Maria is a writer of multiple genres, and author of the popular children's picture story book series Jasmine Dreams.
Find out more about Maria here →


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