We had the good fortune of connecting with Tina Vonn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tina, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I always knew from as early as I can remember that I loved singing, acting, creating, reading and writing. It was in my blood. My father and grandfather were both incredible artists, my grandmother knitted and sewed the clothes for everyone in the family and my mother loved to sing. She passed away two days after I was born so I never got the chance to hear her but my father talked about her voice and how joyful she was and I like to think I got my voice and laughter from her. I remember singing in the car as a child at the top of my lungs and auditioning for showchoir in middle school which then became the main focus of my school life until I graduated.. Showchoir really developed and focused my love of singing and dancing and I was very blessed to have such a dedicated teacher and such talented classmates. As much as I loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian, music and acting really pulled me and took over my life so I moved to Los Angeles right after I graduated to pursue it. Don’t get me wrong I still want to rescue and save all of the animals. One of the local strays from my neighborhood choose me as her mom after I would leave food and water out for the neighborhood animals everyday and now I have an outside cat. My absolutely precious dog child Remy I rescued from the middle of the 10 freeway both of us dodging cars and now he’s one of the true loves of my life.
I’m sure I could try to do other jobs or find another career path, and I have tried because living in LA is one of the hardest things to do if you don’t have a good amount of money or a great job. So really every actor and artist here has their bread and butter job while they pursue their real passion. But I’m determined to make a successful career out of my love whether it’s singing, acting, photography or directing. I like to think that I have the talent and the determination. I hope to be one of LA’s success stories and I’m so blessed and grateful to be able to do it here.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a singer, actor, photographer, writer and filmmaker. Or as I like to call it, I’m a “multi-passionate professional”. I’m focusing on acting, singing and writing at the moment but my career encompasses a multitude of art forms. It’s been a very long and frustrating road, I even took a decade long break from acting but I’ve been creating in some part for the past 20 years. I had developed severe anxiety from a nightmare acting teacher so it took a good amount of time for me to be comfortable performing again. Singing and songwriting were the main factors that helped me overcome my anxiety and fears. Not only getting my emotions out in music kind of like a form of therapy but getting on stage in front of people again really pushed me through.
One of the things I’ve learned is it’s never too late. I kept giving myself excuses to not perform, to not create, because I was scared of so many things. One of them is me getting older and thinking that no one will want to listen or see me, another being my weight, thinking that I would be judged even harsher than a normal sized person. That one is actually a legitimate thing, I have been severely judged by my size throughout the years regardless of my talents a lot of people seem to focus on it. I know beauty and ageism is a real thing in this industry but I’m hoping that more people will push through these glass ceilings like Kathy Bates, Adele, Melissa McCarthy and so many others have.
More than anything I just want to make people happy, it may sound cheesy but it gives me so much joy to know people out there are listening to my music. That it makes them happy, comforts them when they’re down, there’s something so beautiful about being able to help someone that you don’t know. I see all of the videos being made on Youtube with my songs “Goodbye” and “Better Day” and it’s the most wonderful feeling to see them having an emotional reaction and that is EXACTLY why I do it. Someone once told me that my music and songs weren’t for me, they’re for everyone else and I never forgot that. Us creators don’t just create for ourselves. Art cultivates an emotional response from the viewer/listener/audience and it’s so vital to our mental health more than people realize. When covid hit, what did we all do? We watched Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, we watched ARTISTS. I hope more than anything to keep creating and keep bringing joy and love to as many people as I possibly can.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Actually my best friend did come visit from Maui recently. It was pretty hard to do much with Covid but we were able to go to Solvang, Big Bear, Santa Barbara, and hung out here in LA. I love the ocean and have fallen in love with Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach. If you love dogs prepare for a smorgasbord of cuteness. It’s one of my happy places. I also love Leo Carrillo in Malibu, going hiking at Ascot Park in East LA and Griffith Park. I’m hoping to go to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and see a movie if it opens soon, and go back to seeing people performing again at venues around town. I loved performing at The Trip in Santa Monica, and really miss seeing musicians at Hotel Cafe. There’s endless things to do here, I’ve lived here 20 years and I can guarantee I haven’t seen it all.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We all know that living in LA and pursuing a film or artistic career immensely depends on the support of your friends. I moved to LA alone 20 years ago so my friends have become my chosen family. My shoutout list is endless and I wish I could name everyone.
My first and foremost shoutout goes to my dad who always supported me and my crazy artistic endeavors even when it took me across the country away from him. He’s an artist himself and without his love and support I don’t think I would’ve endured as well and long as I have.
My incredible boyfriend Daniel for loving and supporting me through every high and low of our lives. He’s my absolute rock and love of my life. His family for loving and accepting me as I am. My best friends Jennifer Dees and Julianne Arrieta. We share and help critique and improve all of our auditions together, not only creatively but emotionally keeping us all feel loved and pushing the best out of each other. Literally wouldn’t have gotten through covid without them! They’re truly my sisters in life and exceedingly strong and talented women. My tremendously multi-talented partner and best friend Olivia Purugganan who I co-created our video/photo business Babae Studios with. My best friend Jordana Howard who is not only a brilliant artist and fashion designer but she discovered a hidden remarkable writing talent and now we are working on a few exciting scripts together. Abby Sondall who was literally the biggest, baddest assistant and best friend and sister and is now an incredible mother.
My former band who I will forever be grateful for. Alex Martin, Bumsool Kang, Brandon Peterson, Yancey Wells, Jordan Vincent, Andy Marshall, Tarhea Ray, Ambreal Williams, Ariel Barrera, Richard Grossman, and all of the ones who performed even for a short time and helped me find my sound. Everyone who listens to my music, who supported my shows, who supported my music journey you are loved more than you know. My friends who always put me in their films and projects like the extraordinary talent Aaron Doolittle and countless others. My unparalleled acting coach and truly beautiful souls Adam Marcus and Debra Marcus and all of the Skeleton Crew family! My life has absolutely blossomed with them in it and I’m so excited for the artist I’m becoming with them in my life.
As time goes by and we all see each other less and less I am thinking of all of my friends and loved ones even if our contact isn’t consistent. I will always have nothing but love and support for them all and grateful to them for helping to shape who I am today. No person’s impact is too small. I am very aware of the affect that friendship has on mental and emotional health and I hope everyone knows how grateful I am to have shared a moment in their lives regardless of where we’ve moved on in our lives paths.
Olivia Purugganan of Babae Studios