If you were lucky enough to take in some of the Fringe Festival in June, you may have seen an original one woman play co-created and performed by OMS Montessori alumna student Tamlynn Bryson. The play, entitled “Working Title: Undecided”(which Tamlynn jokingly confirms is the real title) started as a short statement to a friend but turned into an impressive hour-long show. So impressive was the show that Tamlynn took home "Emerging Artist Award" for her performance. This success no doubt foreshadows what will be a successful acting career.
Tamlynn, who attended OMS Montessori from 1996 to 2005, recently graduated from the University of Windsor with a BFA Acting and a Certificate in Arts Management. Her first memory of being on stage takes her back to OMS Montessori, a place where she said she learned it's good to be creative, to be an individual and to be who you are.
"I owe a lot of who I am to my first-grade play at OMS," says Tamlynn before jumping into her anecdotal tale.
"We were putting on a production of Little Red Riding Hood, and I was fortunate enough to have received the title role. However, our version was a little different than the fairy tale we all know and love. Little Red was not a helpless victim. She saw through the wolf’s plan and outsmarted him. The play was supposed to end with me spinning around as I triumphantly said my final line of the show. I don’t remember the line, but I very much remember tripping on my red cape and falling down in front of my entire class and all their parents. I hesitantly stood up, looked at the teacher and said, “Should I do that again?” Everyone laughed. I had previously learned two rules of acting: face the audience, and project. That was the moment I learned my third lesson: if you make a mistake, stay in character and just go with it (actually a pretty important acting lesson)."
Looking back, she says it’s surprising that she didn’t quit after that first "humiliation." But the experience instilled perseverance in her, which is something that would come in handy later in Tamlynn's life.
"Acting is not always easy. It’s a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights, and utilizes your body, voice, mind, and soul," she said.
She has also experienced her fair share of people questioning, doubting and judging her post secondary choice. "Answering 'Acting' to the question, 'What’s your major?' has gotten me a lot shocked looks, patronizing smiles, and even a 'You know my friend is an actor and he’s had a terrible life story'."
But, her goal is refreshing ("my goal is to get paid to do what I love") and her passion is clear ("Sometimes I actually tear up watching bloopers for television shows, because I would love to be fortunate enough for that to be my job").
And as Jim Carrey put it, “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
Besides, acting is more than a profession for Tamlynn; it's a way for her to express herself. "Some people get their voices heard through music, politics, novels, poetry, comedy, lectures, law, and a million other ways," she said. "My best way of expressing myself is by putting my feelings and thoughts and dreams and fears and observations on a stage."
Tamlynn is currently pursuing a career in theatre, film, and television and is particularly interested in devising original work. In addition, her certificate in Arts Management has already helped her get work in non-acting theatre jobs, and will help her if I she decides to start her own theatre company in the future.
Tamlynn says she owes a lot of her creativity to the atmosphere at Montessori. "I was taught to think outside the box and I never felt like being 'different' was a bad thing... OMS made me feel like I was unique, and that I should celebrate that. I was taught to collaborate with others, to ask for help when I needed it, and to help others when I could. I was also taught to try my best and to work hard, and that strong work ethic has helped me succeed academically, professionally, and artistically."
Despite the hardships that the profession brings, Tamlynn wouldn't do anything differently and she has sage advice for other alumni interested in pursuing acting (although this could also be read as general life advice):
- Don’t be a diva. It’s way more fun to work with a nice person. It’s also way more fun to be a nice person.
- Do your work. There’s a lot of it, yes, but lots of people are depending on you to do it, and it feels good to know you’ve done it well.
- Learn, learn, learn. Take classes. Take workshops. Be involved in as many productions in as many different ways as possible. You never know who or what will inspire you.
- Be proud of your body. You look like what you look like, the audience can see it, and some roles are for you and some roles are not. It can be hard when every girl in that movie has the same body type, or is a different race than you, but acting (and the world) needs bodies of all shapes, sizes, colours, and genders. Love what you got, cause you’re the only one who’s got it!
- Find a strong support system. It can be hard out there, so make sure you know which friends, family, teachers, and/or counselors to go to on the bad days.
- Failure’s not a thing. I’ve dealt with fear of failure in the past. A lot. But failure is really just a learning experience. Rehearsal often requires failing repeatedly until you find something that works. Plus, you never know what genius idea is disguised as a failure. Everybody makes mistakes, so just laugh and move on. Or, ya know, write a play about it.
- Have fun! Sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget.