We had the good fortune of connecting with Tessa VonderHaar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tessa, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I pursued this career path because performing was my very first love. Since the time I was in preschool, singing, dancing, performing, telling stories, and getting on stage was the most magical, powerful, and wonderful thing to me. Watching the great comedians and actors on TV and films showed me a joy for life which came naturally to me, but I grew up with a tumultuous home life that was almost too hard to bear. Film, TV, laughter, and perfroming became my only reprieve. When no one else was there for me, these performers showed me the way. They reminded me I could laugh — and literally saved my life with the gift of laughter. And in my own healing and growth since then, I have come to know deeply that my talents are meant to do the same for others. My mission is to bring joy, laughter, and levity to those who wouldn’t otherwise have it through film and television. I think a good laugh can turn someone’s life around, shift there thinking on a subject, and bring them back to being in the present moment. I want to be apart of bringing that into the world. Just little simple stuff like that, ya know?
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am an actress and comedian. I started off training in dramatic theater acting, this then evolved into musical theater, where there was more dramatic acting. Until l I had a teacher who said, “Tessa, you are super funny why are you always doing this super sad material?” And I said. “Cause comedy is so easy I want a challenge.” She explained to me comedy wasn’t easy for everyone, actually the opposite, and I was a natural at it. I had never realized it was a skill I had. Taking her advice I started leaning into comedy more. I got my first agent and manager right out of college from my comedy. From there I started studying at Second City Hollywood. I fell in love with it. I studied then at UCB, IO, The Pack, and Groundlings. I performed all over all over LA with improv and sketch teams. Writing and performing in full length sketch show written. I did stand up for a few years. During this time I was auditioning, I booked co-star roles on network TV shows, supporting roles in films, worked commercially, and voiced a character on Netflix animated series. It has not always been easy but remembering my why and trudging forward no matter what is what keeps me going. Even when there are set backs or when things don’t seem to be moving for me I try to remember that it is about more than the accomplishments or accolades. That it is about connection and bringing joy where I can. I ask myself what can I do today, right now, to put my talents and gifts to good use? Over the years my switch in direction of what I was specifically pursuing in entertainment has helped me to understand myself and my brand more. I used to think I had to pick between drama and comedy but now I know what I love is exploring characters and emotional truth– so whether that happens in a medical drama or in sketch comedy– my goal is always find the emotional truth in the performance. My goal is to find the human-ness in it all and make it accessible. Human-ness to me is real, authenticity, messiness, and laughter– ALWAYS finding the joke where you can! I aspire to continue to be a transformational actress, genre hopping and exploring characters deeply. Let’s play!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ok friend! Let’s start riding our bike on the LA river bike path by my house we can stop for a coffee in Atwater Village at Village bakery. Later we can take a take a hike at Franklin Canyon on the Westside, it’s a quieter more secluded hike. You run in to far less people and can enjoy the view. We can then cruise the PCH and stop on the beach on our way to my favorite look out for sunset- The Pacific Palisades Bluff Park. It over looks the ocean with a clear view of Mailbu to the north and Santa Monica to the south. It is miraculous! I would take you to more places, but it’s COVID friend! We are still waiting for the wolrld to open up fully 🙂
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Thank you to my family, teachers, and mentors who have always encouraged my talents and believed in me- To the higher source for my gifts, talents, and this path- My friends who trudge this road with me as artists, who pick me up when I’m down and help me to keep moving forward (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE). Most importantly I’d like to dedicate this to the book THE ARTIST WAY… and to Diet Rootbeer. Obviously.
Facebook: Tessa VonderHaar
Headshots by Paul Smith Photogrpahy