Following in the footsteps of fellow Canadian actresses such as Ellen Page, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Elisha Cuthbert, Rachel McAdams, Anna Paquin, Jessica Lowndes, and Nina Dobrev, Toronto-born Tamara Duarte is the latest rising talent import!
Since booking her first hair commercial at 14, Tamara has grown within the North American entertainment industry starring on the hit Nickelodeon television series Degrassi: The Next Generation, as well as Stephen King’s Haven. Today, Tamara can be seen on the hit Netflix series Longmire and was just nominated for a best actress award for her role in the upcoming film, Badsville.
The Levity Ball sat down with Tamara at her home in Las Vegas to find out more about her career, future plans, and some Longmire spoilers…
When did you first know you wanted to become an actress?
I was about 10 years old. My older sisters performed in Portuguese plays and I remembered thinking “I want to do that!” so a few years later I did my first play in Toronto. My older sister Sonia helped me get a commercial agent and drove me around to auditions, meetings etc., but she was attending collage at the time so it was short lived until I was able to drive myself.
You are originally from Canada… what other Canadian actors inspire you?
Ellen Page inspires me. Not only is she a talented actor but also she is a creator, producing important content. She is a mover and shaker who not only inspires but influences people.
Jim Carrey inspires me. I remember walking into Second City classes in Toronto for years and passing by his picture. He inspired me to be brave in my work.
Tatiana Maslany. I love watching her work in orphan black. We have the same agent and used to attend the same class in Toronto. There are some people that light a fire in you when you see them work. She is one of those people.
Was it harder being from Canada to make a name for yourself here in the United States?
At first I thought so! Building all new relationships, casting etc. but being from Toronto actually helped me! I had so much solid experience coming from a city that was enriched with productions that grew bigger and bigger every year.
You appeared as a regular on the classic TV series Degrassi: The Next Generation… how was it being a part of such an iconic show and playing a lesbian on it?
It was such an amazing experience. Playing a lesbian on the show really helped me understand why I do what I do. It helped me understand that I can effect, inspire and change lives through art. I owe that to the Degrassi family.
You now split your time between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but what do you miss most about back home?
I miss my family. I have 3 sisters. They are my best friends and incredible moms (I have six nieces and a god son) we laugh A LOT when we are together. I lived on Euclid Street near Queen West in Toronto. I miss walking to Dark Horse Coffee and laying in Trinity Bellwood’s Park on a Sunday afternoon.
You star next in the film Badsville (due out in October)… How was it working on this project?
I was going though a lot in my personal life and Suzy was going though the same life lesson. It was a deep connection. I ran into April Mullen at an event in Hollywood we got chatting and she sent me the script that night. I FELL IN LOVE with it and emailed her back immediately after reading it. Within the next few days I went in and met the team and the rest is history. I’m so proud of April, she was just honored at TIFF this year at the Bricks Women in Film for a film called “Below Her Month”. The majority of the cast were all around the same age (the greaser gang) so we hung out a lot and became fast friends; Its like being at summer camp.
You also are on the Netflix series, Longmire… What can people look forward to this coming season of the show?
Well, Mandy seems to be working along side of Cady Longmire. She is really coming into her own in Season 5. Mandy starts to have purpose, she starts to live for something and that changes everything.
Do you prefer to work on films or on television shows?
I love BOTH! I like knowing my arc in film. The character starts and ends in very different places so preparing each scene is specific; things like wardrobe choices will change as the story evolves. In TV, unless I get ALL the episodes before we start (which is very uncommon) I can only guess where the story is going, where the character is going, so I’m forced to be more organic and trust the process. I take the journey with time.
What was the best advice you were ever given in regards to the entertainment industry?
Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
Where do you see yourself and career in five years from now?
Having my little ones getting tomatoes from the garden, working on film that I’m writing right now and publishing a children’s book.
And final question: What do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered for making others feel good. It doesn’t matter how smart, beautiful, wealthy, or talented you think you are. How you treat people is how you will be remembered. We live in a world of justifications. That we can treat others poorly, lie, cheat, etc. because they did this or that to us. We create a story in our own mind that justifies our actions and intern it feels good to treat strangers, co-workers, friends, family, enemies horribly.. But that doesn’t make it right or just. It just makes it easier to live with. Reassessing the storyteller inside me is a big part of how I treat others.