Tamara Tunie, actress of AMC’s new hit show Dietland, spoke to the Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper. Dietland shines light on the current issues facing society from a woman’s perspective. Tunie long list of accomplishments includes directing, musical theater, and producing stage plays.
Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper: Describe the moment you decided acting was a career goal?
Tamara Tunie: It was my senior year of high school. I was in school plays, ballet classes, and choir. Something just clicked. I knew this is what I really wanted to do. It made people smile and brought a strong sense of happiness. I’m originally from Pittsburg. I got a degree in musical theater and moved to New York.
LAS: You recently were involved with a musical called Jazzland with kids from Harlem. Can you elaborate on creating that experience?
Tunie: We’ve been developing it as an animated feature but a year ago we decided to create a musical instead. I reached out to the Harlem School of the Arts. It’s an amazing non-profit arts program. These children that I work with have never done a musical before. Their discipline allowed them to grow in incredible ways. That’s the point of art. You need to apply those disciplines and grow them.
LAS: What has been your favorite experience working on Dietland?
Tunie: Overall working on the show itself with these incredible women. It’s a different vibe to be on a set where women are in charge and leading. Also playing Julie, a character I’ve never seen before or much less played, has impacted me. I’m normally playing characters of women who are in the professional light or in suits.
LAS: The show seems to strike a nerve with many people. Why do you feel so many are drawn to the show?
Tunie: Because it talks about what is currently happening in our society. We discuss how women are treated in our society whether it is about equal pay or sexual assault. This perception has been below the surface for far too long. Our characters are saying no more and taking matters into their own hands.
LAS: What advice would you give someone who wants to achieve your success?
Tunie: I always tell young people to do well in school. Focus on your studies and read. As you start to get different roles, you never know what you learned in school may rise to the surface. I use this example playing the medical examiner on Law & Order. I used my knowledge from my ninth-grade biology class to help me in the role.
Everyone looks at this business as easy. They don’t understand this business is hard work. It isn’t easy. Be prepared, you must be professional.
LAS: You’ve had tremendous success in your career. What is your opinion on people who solely create art for recognition?
Tunie: Awards are wonderful. Acknowledgements are wonderful. We all appreciate it. But that’s the frosting on the cake. I’m more interested in the cake! The cake is doing the work and how it impacts people. In the past two years, all the pieces I’ve done have had some type of social perspective. Art challenges us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes.
The season finale of Dietland premiered Monday July 30. For more information about the show, visit amc.com.