We had the good fortune of connecting with Tess Lanni and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tess, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Growing up, I was most definitely not a risk taker. I always did what was expected of me without thinking of myself and what I wanted from life. It finally took me until my early 30’s to realize that in order to live the fulfilling life that I wanted so badly, a big change had to be made. So, I uprooted my life in Chicago and moved out here to LA just a little over a year ago and haven’t looked back! I came out here alone without knowing a single soul and with no plan of where my creative career was going to go. Lo and behold, (even with COVID), since being laid off from my “normal” job in September 2020 and deciding to pursue acting full time, I’ve met so many wonderful and amazing artists who have helped me move forward with this crazy decision of mine. Without taking this HUGE risk and accepting who I truly am as an artist, I’d still be stuck in my “safe” pattern of taking wrong turn after wrong turn in careers that were unfulfilling to me. I’ve learned that while risks are absolutely terrifying, they are necessary to live the life you want to live! No day but today, y’all!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a Laban-based physical actor, model, and movement coach. By that, I mean that I studied the Laban Movement Analysis for actors in undergrad (along with other movement theories) and I use these languages to influence my acting styles. I’m currently pursuing a post-grad certificate to become a Certified Movement Analyst so that I may be able to take my movement coaching career to the next level. I’ve also started training in creature work, motion capture, and other physical acting skills at the Mind’s Eye Tribe Action Actors Academy here in LA. I learned early on in my acting career in Chicago that more physically-based and abstract roles were a lot more interesting and fulfilling to me than other roles, although I do love me some improv and comedic roles as well. Most of my acting work has been in interactive environmental theatre where the fourth wall doesn’t exist and improv is Queen(!), but I am very excited to start exploring other performing avenues here in LA. As far as my approach to movement coaching, I focus on Laban/Bartenieff Fundamentals, somatic, and “animal essence” movement theories. I believe that connecting with your primal senses along with a Laban approach to body awareness can only deepen an actor’s ability to create a believable and relatable character. I also believe very strongly in the practice of non-verbal communication and body language in actor movement training. The ability to create a true and genuine connection with another human being with no words is absolutely profound to me. Communication with the body can be so vulnerable and intimate and once the wall of words is taken away, a deep and true connection can be born from there, whether it’s with the audience or your scene partner(s). I guess to conclude this question, it has taken me a long time to reach this certain acceptance of myself and how I fit into this world as an artist. Moving to LA has definitely helped me move in the right direction and I’m stoked to see how I continue to grow!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I moved out here just a couple months before COVID hit, so I really haven’t been able to check out many places! I was able to hit up most of the arcades right off the bat (big-time retro gamer nerd here) and I LOVE Button Mash. I also love hiking and I’d have to say my favorite hike so far has been at the Malibu Grottos. IT’S SO FREAKING PRETTY! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout to my family for supporting my move away from them and across the country! Shoutout to Jean Kerr at Illinois Wesleyan University for introducing me to the Laban Movement Analysis and physical acting and making me UTTERLY OBSESSED with it all! One more shoutout to everyone that I’ve met out here in LA so far who have helped me navigate this crazy acting scene, y’all know who you are!
Allen Castillo, Joshua Robbins, Brian Schultz, John Karpinsky, Tamiah Bantum