I was highlighted as an ALUMNI by my high school and figured I would share the article with you guys!
What college did you attend?
The American Musical and Dramatic Academy
What was the area of study? Musical Theater
What was one of your favorite memories (or a couple of memories) from your time at Faith?
I remember when we put up the very first musical that Faith had ever done, which was in the gym because we had no theater...which is further proof of the unfamiliar territory we were breaking ground on. It was Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and I was cast as one of the narrators. If you know that musical, then you know the narrator's parts are particularly challenging when it comes to range and pacing, so I was excited yet terrified. The rehearsals were every weekday, in the library, which at the time, was the only place big enough that could hold our cast. The group was full of nerds and misfits and although we were all rather eccentric, we became peas in a pod, during the process of putting up that musical. That’s what happens when you create something with a group, it forces an unforgettable bond in which you end up sharing your time, all on one stage, and all for the greater good of originating something together. At the same time, we were also developing some of the best memories we’d ever come to have.
I remember opening night where a few of us hid under the bleachers awaiting our entrance, with many of us looking like our nerves may push up what we ate for lunch and leave it directly on the ground before us. “WHAT WERE WE THINKING!? WE WERE GONNA SING AND PERFORM IN FRONT OF AN ENTIRE GYM OF PARENTS AND PEERS!? WE AREN’T READY! I’M HIDING UNDER A BLEACHER! OH GOD HELP ME, MY THROAT IS CLOSING!”, were just a few of the thoughts that rushed through my head. Until we gave each other a hug and then we three narrators, took a deep breath, prayed we wouldn’t fall over dead out of pure anxiety, and then walked into the middle of the gym and started to sing. At that moment, our bodies just took over. For me, I can’t remember much but glimpses from that show. It’s as if those scared little teenagers, who were thinking we might die immediately, should we go through with this, suddenly became exactly who we were meant to be once we all set foot on that makeshift stage. At least that’s what I like to think happened, as it was certainly a turning point for me. The rehearsals, coaching, warm-ups, warm downs, encouragement, and overall FAITH in our talents, allowed us to design Faith’s very first musical. For most of us, that was also our very first taste of what a life of performing may feel like, which is never easy, but in the end, always worth it. I see now that Faith has a theater and I’m sure there’s plenty that are running over their lines, behind those stage wings, who don't yet know that they’re on the verge of creating some of the best memories of their lives. Thanks to Miss Youmans, Miss McCalister, and Miss P, for being the pioneers when it came to feeding all the hearts of creation.
Mentioning teachers, other students, activities would be helpful
While attending, were you a part of any extracurriculars?
I was a cheerleader from 6th-12th grade, because it was my front seat ticket to every football game. I would literally leave a cheer in the middle of a play to run down the field and yell for our crusaders to make a touchdown. Some may have seen it as a little too much and I certainly wasn’t following the cheer protocol per se, but as I said, Faith was good at taking notice of students' strengths. I was given the “Most Spirited” award my senior year, which I think was their way of saying, “We’ve seen you all these years and although you’re not the greatest cheerleader we’ve seen, you’ve got spirit kid!” Looking back, I’m sometimes surprised I was a cheerleader for so long, but then I remembered it was more about the team and friendships I’d forged and less about the classical things that cheerleading represented. It was also a different way of performing in front of a crowd, that I don’t think I truly grasped when I was in it. Cheerleading, I see now, was just another gateway into performance for me.
I also happened to be in every music activity there ever was… choir, praise band, solo ensemble, the list goes on. Luckily, Miss Youmans was as untiring as her students and helped me make my very first audition tape which got me accepted into Berklee College of Music and AMDA. I chose AMDA, because it was in sunny LA and the word snow was never mentioned. AMDA was also the place where I got bit by the comedy/acting bug, which is what I still wake up and pursue, every single day. Although I’m not pursuing musical theater, I still play and perform cover songs, as music is still a very big part of my life. My acoustic guitar has been a saving grace and I’m grateful that my talents were fostered at such a young age by my amazing mom and mi Abuelita, alongside Faith Lutheran and the amazing staff. The arts aren’t necessarily seen as a stable career and is more so what parents and teachers would encourage you to do as a hobby, not something you’d build your life around. Yet, I was blessed with the teachers at Faith and an amazing family who saw that little light and encouraged me to let it shine, whether it meant steady paychecks or not.
For me, the spirit that the teachers at Faith saw in me has always been the thing that's helped me pursue my dreams. It’s also important to have a support system that’s got your back when you enter into an unsteady career and luckily, my mom and mi Abuelita were my biggest fans. Even though those two people who raised me have both passed on, my aunt Nina has filled their shoes with such grace. She has seen all of my ups and downs, yet continues to support and believe in me, even when I don’t have the strength to. She’s got my back, along with my LA friends, who are considered family. We all are striving towards our dreams with the knowledge that hard work and perseverance pay off. We chose to believe and with that, our hope carries us to pick up our feet and continue the pursuit, day after day.
I think for those who are hoping to chase after the same, I’ll say this. “You’re the one who chooses to accept all the rejection and focus on the hard work. (Yes, there will be lots of rejection when you pursue the arts, but it will only make you more tenacious) You choose to have less time for those around you because you’ve buckled into the sacrifice you knew you’d have to make. (Pursuing your dreams takes a lot of sacrifices, but sacrificing for something you love is always worth the price) You choose your dream because if you didn’t it would break you.” If I had given up when it got hard, I’m sure I would have been successful in other ways, but I think a little piece of me would have regretted not forging the path, which has led me to where I am now. To say the least, the journey has always been entertaining and my heart is continually growing in the process. It all started on that day I walked off the stage and realized, “I just performed in a musical and didn’t die!” Thank you to Faith Lutheran for being the uplifting foundation on which I could take flight.
You can see all of my work on my IMDB page, but my most recent Lifetime movie, “The Nightmare House” can be seen and rented on all streaming services.
The short film I co-wrote and starred in can be seen in film festivals this year, called “Prime of Your Life”. It will be screened in Las Vegas at the Miracle Makers International Film Festival in the Galaxy theaters July 28-30th, 2021, with awards on the 31st. I will be on the content creators panel talking about the progression of my acting career and giving advice to other content creators and actors on how I started my youtube channel and made it to where I am now. I have been nominated 7 times for Best Actress and won 4 Best Actress awards in Canada and the US for my work in this film and we still have many more to go.I am very proud of it and hope those who are interested get a chance to see it.
The most recent short film I wrote, directed, and starred in, called “A Real KillJoy”, just finished shooting and will be a part of the “Just Scare Me” festival in July and available on my Youtube channel (Tara Erickson) very soon. So if you’re interested, subscribe to my channel to stay updated!
I also have a blog where I write about love, loss, and my experiences, (THIS ONE YOU'RE READING RIGHT NOW!)which have made me into the Tara I am today. I have found that writing about life experiences that many people would avoid talking about has not only helped me but helped others to hear it. I am grateful for the messages I get on how my words have helped someone grieve, smile, or charge forward. In being a creator my goal is to give an experience to people that they wouldn’t normally have, whether that be in writing, performing, or singing. If I can affect someone's heart and emotions, then I’ve done my job.
My upcoming feature film was shot this past March of 2021, which is set to premiere on Lifetime, called “Psycho Storm Chaser”. It just finished post-production and will be airing this fall of 2021.
Also, I have a kids' book! After my mom passed away about 4 years ago, I started to write about my journey growing up with a mom who was sick and how I got through her passing. I performed my story for shows like THE MOTH and RISK out here in Los Angeles, which then inspired me to write a kids' book. I realized there’s not a lot of kids' books that cover the subject of death, so I decided to write one. It is based on a little dragon's journey, after his mom’s passing and how he finds that even without her, love can always be found. It is titled, “Drew The Lonely Dragon” and will be available in the winter of 2021.
Finally, if you’re a pizza fan you’ll see my face pop up in all of the Little Caesars ADs! Pizza Pizza!
Here are all my links below! Feel free to reach out and say hello!