photos including cover: Bella Photos
Tasya Teles is an actress who truly believes/breaths the art form of acting. Her ability to envision and break down every component of a scene whether it’s in a Film or TV series is amazing. She is truly a rare gem in the industry; with her beauty and talents she is truly one to watch. SayWhatNews sat down with Tasya and talked about her latest movie ‘Skin Trade’ starring alongside Dolph Lundgren, Michael Jai White and Ron Perlman, her new organization ‘The Unslaved’ and much more:
SayWhatNews: Hello, Tasya. Thanks for sitting down and speaking with SayWhatNews. First please tell us who is Tasya Teles?
Tasya: Oh jeez. Good question….To try and keep things simple, one answer would be that I’m a Ukrainian/Brazilian actress born from two nerdy tech professors in Toronto. But since moving to Vancouver I have become the stereotypical bohemian West Coaster: a lover of yoga, Whole Foods, and the outdoors. At heart I am a big travel bug, and I’ve been told that I have more curiosity than a cat (which I suppose is why I love acting so much). At any given time I can be learning a new language, sport, dance, culture, accent, cuisine… you name it, I’ve had to learn it! Ultimately, I define myself as a storyteller.
SayWhatNews: Tasya, in 2013 you made your debut as an actress by landing your very first role in DirecTV’s series 'Rogue' alongside the very talented Thandie Newton. What inspired you to become an actress?
Tasya: Working with Thandie was incredible! What an amazing first role! Although, I’m not sure what exactly inspired me to become an actress, as I’ve wanted to be one since I was very young. At that time, who knows what it was? Maybe it was the openness and playfulness that I was drawn to. But this industry as a profession is incredibly difficult at times, and what has inspired me to continue in this arena perhaps, is how interesting I find people. I find humanity so beautiful and complicated; it’s a fun process to unearth the mysteries of the mind. We are all so delicate, and filled with contradictions and stories. Even the most evil characters have a sad back-story, or hurt, that makes them universally relatable. I find acting humanizing. I am in awe when I see a great play, or film that touches your soul in ways that other art forms can’t. Every character forces you to look at life through different eyes, to understand or think about things in different ways, which has grown and shaped me exponentially. I have become a better person through acting, which is pretty cool. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
SayWhatNews: How did you hear about the role?
Tasya: My agent read the breakdown and called me immediately. There was a saucy confrontational aspect to this character, and a vulnerability he believed I could connect to, and he was right. Kendra was a tough girl, in a bad place, and when she is finally alone we see that she uses this tough exterior to hide her fear. Maybe that’s what I do too, ha! Maybe that’s why the role was so perfect for me.
SayWhatNews: Tell us about the audition process for Rogue and was this your first audition, were you nervous?
Tasya: Oh my god, I was happy, scared, excited, overwhelmed, oh man… the list goes on. I was experiencing so many emotions, nervousness probably at the forefront of it all. It was my first role (a four-episode contract), so I really wanted to make an impression. I worked really hard on the role. Kendra has a lot of attitude and plays this cool, calm, collected exterior. Not easy when you’re nervous. To ensure my nerves didn’t betray me, I rehearsed the scene about a million times. I rehearsed that audition until I could do it backwards and upside-down with my eyes closed! We submitted a tape, and then I was called into the room. The director was so much fun; it really helped to relax me in the room so I could just do my work.
SayWhatNews: Your role in Rogue was reoccurring. Tell us about your most memorable moment being on set?
Tasya: Ha, that’s easy. There’s one scene that goes from zero to one hundred very quickly. Fueled by booze and drugs, things get ugly among the characters fast, and I wasn’t sure how this was all going to play out. After an intimate moment gone wrong, I was supposed to grab and throw glassware at my scene partners, while everyone is yelling and screaming at each other, then someone falls into a glass coffee table, lamps and furniture are knocked over, I mean it was we had it all! It was so wild and chaotic, I just thought to myself: “Wow. This is what it’s like to make television. This is AWESOME!” I remember I was so ‘in the moment’ that some of the objects I was throwing were hitting the set lights, microphones, while other objects narrowly missed the crew and cameramen. It was sugar-glass, so it wouldn’t have hurt anyone, but still. I was embarrassed. They called cut, and everyone was laughing. I shyly apologized, but man, that was a fun day.
photo: Tasya Teles (Rogue DirecTV)
SayWhatNews: So, what was it like working with Thandie Newton? Did she give you any acting tips or advice?
Tasya: Thandie is amazing. I could just follow her around and watch her work all day. She came up to me at the first table read and gave me a big, long hug, and rubbed my back. Then she looked at me, like really looked at me, just made sure I was good, and felt welcome. Everything suddenly didn’t feel as scary. She had my back! I felt relaxed, and got into the work with everyone. I noticed that she did that with every new cast member they brought on the show. It’s crazy how small gestures like these make such a difference; so many of us are all meeting each other for the first time. It’s hugely important to connect with one another before you get to set. That way you’re not looking at your scene partner for the first time when the camera is rolling. You’d be amazed at how many people overlook this small but important trick, and I make sure to be as open and available as Thandie on and off set as much as I can.
SayWhatNews: Tasya, your acting career has been keeping you really busy. Since your acting debut you have starred in several hit TV shows like, The CW’s “100”, Lifetime’s “Witches of East End”, The CW’s “iZombie” and USA’s “RUSH” to name a few. Which would you consider to be more challenging Sci-Fi based dramas or dramas?
Tasya: One of the challenges with Sci-Fi is that because of the fantastical nature of these worlds, a lot of the imagery is amped up in post-production. You find yourself reacting to, or screaming at, a blank green screen. That can be tricky. Specificity is imperative when building that world around you, so that you are actually looking at a defined object, place, or person, and reacting to it in an authentic way. What I love about Sci-Fi is the transformation you go through as an actor to become the character. Echo in the Cw’s “100” was covered in dirty, bloodied, and tattered gauze, with wild hair, and she was just barely surviving. The wardrobe allowed me to tap into a very raw, lethal, warrior-side of myself that you don’t get to do in regular dramas. With regular dramas the difficulty is that you’re playing a character very close to a real person. You have to ensure that you are reacting in a very truthful way, according to what the character would do, not what you would do! In that sense dramas can be more difficult, because you sometimes have to distinguish the character so completely from yourself all the while keeping your natural instincts and impulses free, which is definitely challenging.
photo: Tasya Teles & Dolph Lundgren (Skin Trade)
SayWhatNews: Your new film “SKIN TRADE” just hit theaters on May 8th. The Thai-Canadian action thriller film was written by and starred Dolph Lundgren, a well-known action hero in his own right. Tell us about the movie and your role.
Tasya: The movie is about the toll that human trafficking takes on society, and how far-reaching this issue is, all the way into the homes of New York City. After a Serbian mob-family that is involved in human trafficking kills Nick Cassidy’s family (a NYC detective played by Dolph Lundgren), he secretly travels to Southeast Asia to exact revenge. He ends up discovering that these criminal rings are far more institutionalized and powerful than he once thought. Rosa, who I play in the movie, is Nick Cassidy’s wife. She is his rock, his soul mate; she’s patient and extremely loving towards him, she’s his home. He can’t imagine life without her and their daughter, Sofia. It is the moment he realizes that they are gone, which sends him on this murderous mission.
SayWhatNews: What was it like working with Dolph Lundgren, Michael Jai White and Ron Perlman, who each have made their own marks in action films as amazing action heroes?
The fight scenes were like watching a very manly, aggressive ballet. The timing and precision was so cool to watch. All these guys can suddenly mutate from their social, charming selves, into crazy, intense super heroes! Being on set around them, along with all the explosions, guns, and smoke, had my adrenaline pumping around the clock. Definitely sparked my interest in doing more action films!
SayWhatNews: Now that you have worked in film and TV, which of the two do you prefer?
Tasya: A boring but honest answer is that I love both! Being on set is the best part of the job, so I’m happy either way. Television moves very quickly and there are always twists and turns that can totally surprise you. It’s a lot of fun to be a part of a show and suddenly there’s this plot twist that no one saw coming. In film you’re unraveling one long puzzle piece. Your work is informed by having a complete picture to work from, the story ends on the last page. There’s definitely a sense of completion you don’t get in television, where your character can suddenly change. Either way, they’re both challenging and awesome. Just throw me on set – that’s what I call a good time!
SayWhatNews: Tasya, I know you’re a busy young lady but in your spare time what do like to do for fun?
Tasya: To my friends I’m a complete wacko. One day I’m learning salsa, the other I’m into architecture and design – I find joy in learning new things. But one constant is my love for food. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of eating and cooking. I love cooking for friends, finding new restaurants and hidden gems in every city, checking out farmers markets. Even Whole Foods could be considered a pass time for me. That aside, I recently discovered that I love hiking, which was surprising! Yoga, singing, and anything to do with arts/crafts I love (finger painting included). Oh and how could I forget –TRAVELING! Duh.
SayWhatNews: If you had front row seats to a concert who would be on stage?
Tasya: Good question… The Black Keys never disappoint, I love their sound, and you can jump around and dance the whole time. Janet Jackson was my first concert, and still holds the title as best performer I’ve seen. She started the concert strapped to a metal podium in the sky, and just stood there in total stillness until our cheering got so loud that she finally started the concert by wiggling her hips, and suddenly the music and lights exploded through the stadium. It was awesome! I would love to see her again live.
SayWhatNews: What was the last movie you went to see?
Tasya: Birdman. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. As an actor my head was exploding in so many different directions with so many thoughts. One thing I was stunned by was how long the takes were. I remember Zach Galifianakis saying in an interview that his part was always towards the end of the take, which was torture. He was so nervous he’d flub something up, and ruin the whole shot, and they’d have to begin the entire sequence again. I mean, that movie was so impressive on so many levels; I actually stayed and watched it a second time.
SayWhatNews: Tasya, your fashion style is Bohemian chic. Who’s your favorite designer?
Tasya: Well... For street wear I love Free People, and Gypsy Soul because of the variety of their collections, Astrid Lily for simple elegant boho jewelry, and Zadig & Voltaire when I’m feeling punky! And then there’s Balmain. I absolutely love Balmain. I recently wore one of their dresses on the red carpet and I just felt complete. My mom’s closet is pretty rad too – she was the ultimate bohemian hippie in the seventies, and she has these wild authentic pieces from Africa!
SayWhatNews: I see you own a restaurant/supper club in Vancouver called The Parlour. What inspired you to open your own restaurant/supper club and type of food does The Parlour serve?
Tasya: For no reason that I’m aware of, I’ve always wanted to own a restaurant. This was the result of a bunch of things I’m sure, but after living in Montreal I got a real taste for east coast restaurant culture. I wanted to bring that energy and aesthetic back to Vancouver. Half our menu is devoted to creative pizza combinations (and the reason I gained 15 pounds or so when we opened), and the other half of the menu is a collection of small tapas where we get to experiment and play. We recently introduced a completely raw dish, as well as an amazing ceviche, which people didn’t expect from us. It’s tons of fun to surprise guests with new dishes, and see how people respond to these new creations, or changes in the room and decor. Never boring, that’s for sure!
SayWhatNews: I read that you have plans to launch “Unslaved” - An organization that supports children at risk of being human trafficked through various programs. Can you tell us what inspired you start “Unslaved” and tell us about the organization and how people can help out the cause?
Tasya: Oh my gosh! I’m so excited for this! My mom inspired a strong feminist attitude in me since I was young, and gave me a book many years ago, ‘Half The Sky’, which opened my eyes to the issue of human trafficking. I was so struck by what these girls go through, and saw such a strength/resilience amongst the children, that I was immediately grabbed by the cause. I’ve been wanting to help in some way for years, but didn’t know how. Finally after many conversations with other women, and various organizations, the idea of 'Unslaved' was born. Essentially these organizations need a continued stream of capital so that they can stay alive and continue rescuing young girls from human trafficking. I spoke with COSA (Chidren of South East Asia), and discussed fundraisers as a means of financing. They rescue children who are at risk of being trafficked along the borders of Thailand, by being kidnapped, or sold by their parents, who can’t afford food for the whole family. COSA mentioned expansion problems, because they didn’t want to have to give up on one child, to bring in another.
So with that information in mind, I wanted to
do something with lasting power, a way of raising money continuously to support
organizations like these. The idea is
simple, buy a bracelet, join the fight against human trafficking. I opted for basic, elegant brass, silver and
gold bands, and the money all goes to the organizations. It’s a bracelet people can be proud to wear,
because it unifies all of us women to take a stand together, and protect those of
us who can’t protect themselves. In that
way, no matter where you’re from, you can help join the fight against this
horrific issue. We are just finishing the website for ‘The Unslaved’, so at
this time you can help by simply entering your email address so we can contact
you at the launch (theunslaved.com). Our
launch is coming soon – I’m thrilled!
SayWhatNews: That’s amazing. Please keep us in the loop once ‘The Unslaved’ website is up and running. So, what’s next in the future for Tasya Teles?
Tasya: I’m currently working on a Sci-Fi film called ‘Ethix’, we start rehearsals this week, and there are some other film projects that I will be working on over the summer. But this year is definitely going to include some more off-screen projects, such as theatre, and maybe producing…we’ll see. Right now, my main focus outside of acting is to get ‘The Unslaved’ up and running, and to bring light to the issue of human trafficking. Wish me luck!