Tonya Todd


Twitter @MsTonyaTodd
IG @mstonyatodd

EP 135: Tonya Todd (autogenerated)

[00:00:00] Dane Reis: [00:00:00] you booked it episode 135. Okay. Let’s get started. I am excited to introduce my guest today. Tanya. Todd, are you ready for this Tanya? 

[00:00:16] Tonya Todd: [00:00:16] I am.

[00:00:17] Dane Reis: [00:00:17] All right. Tanya is an American author, actress and producer born in Pennsylvania. She plunged into Los Vegas, young enough to immerse herself in bright lights, big city, and bold dreams.

[00:00:30] Her sundry background ranges from content writer to software programmer, to convention model with a cast of characters, as diverse as her careers, her work explores the infinite Hughes of what drives us all relationships and desires. Tanya, that is a quick intro of who you are and what you’ve done, but why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

[00:00:54] Fill in the gaps and a little bit more about what you do as a professional in the entertainment industry?

[00:01:01]Tonya Todd: [00:01:01] well, first the easy part, I’m an author, an actress here in Las Vegas. I was born in Pennsylvania, but I did grow up here. So almost a local, I feel like a local at this point.

[00:01:14] Dane Reis: [00:01:14] Of course

[00:01:15]Tonya Todd: [00:01:15] My journey began with writing fiction. Like I wasn’t considering being an actor at all. And I wrote a novel about a woman who quits her job and becomes an actress.

[00:01:24] And eventually I followed her lead.

[00:01:28] Dane Reis: [00:01:28] How ironic

[00:01:30]Tonya Todd: [00:01:30] Instead of art mirroring my life. It was like my life manifested from my art. And now I’m. Less to follow my, my own dreams. I get to work in theater, television, and film, and I’ve even dabbled in producing one day. I hope to direct.

[00:01:44]Dane Reis: [00:01:44] Yeah, that is so funny. How you, how you manifested it through a story. That’s crazy.

[00:01:50]Tonya Todd: [00:01:50] Yeah. And a lot of things have happened with that.  like, I’m afraid to write some things now, because too much has happened that I’ve written.

[00:01:57] Dane Reis: [00:01:57] You’re right.

[00:02:00] Tonya Todd: [00:02:00] I’ve had family members say, okay, just make sure you don’t say this. And maybe, you know, a character based on me wins the lottery. I’m just saying, you know,

[00:02:06]Dane Reis: [00:02:06] All right, well, well, let’s move on to our first section here and Tanya, look, I am a sucker for a good quote. What is your favorite quote? You’d like to share with everyone?

[00:02:17]Tonya Todd: [00:02:17] be true to yourself and you will never fall. Yeah,

[00:02:19]Dane Reis: [00:02:19] So true. And can you expand on that a bit on how you applied that to your life and your career?

[00:02:26]Tonya Todd: [00:02:26] I should probably mention it is a Beastie boy quote, it’s ripped off from a song, but you know, it stuck with me. It’s always, whenever anyone asks me for a quote like this it’s immediate, it comes to mind. When I grew up, I was a biracial tomboy, so I always felt like the other in the room. I wasn’t black enough.

[00:02:44] I wasn’t white enough. I wasn’t feminine enough. And then I was often told girls should do this or black people shouldn’t do that. And I was teased for being different. It took me several years to recognize that it’s okay to be my brand of weird, you know, that it’s okay for a black girl to pine for her mr.

[00:03:02] Darcy. And there’s nothing wrong with being a woman who likes comics, horror fighting or. Simply being a charge.

[00:03:09] Dane Reis: [00:03:09] Yeah, absolutely.

[00:03:11] Tonya Todd: [00:03:11] I’m my authentic self, I have what no one else has to bring to the table. Essentially.

[00:03:17] Dane Reis: [00:03:17] , it’s so great that you’ve embraced that. I love you said my own style of weird. Is that what you said? Her own flavor of

[00:03:24] Tonya Todd: [00:03:24] I think I said my own brand of

[00:03:25] Dane Reis: [00:03:25] Your own brand of yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And let’s get into this next section now. And, and Tonya, of course your, an entertainer. I am an entertainer.

[00:03:38] And I think that you’d agree that this industry can be one of the most subjective, brutally, honest, personally, emotional industries. In existence and you know, you know, as well as I, that in order to create and have a successful career in this industry, like your having now, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work and 

[00:03:59] Tonya Todd: [00:03:59] Yes. And a thick skin.

[00:04:00]Dane Reis: [00:04:00] Yeah, yeah. And there’s an outrageous amount of obstacles, those challenges and failures that we’re going to experience and we’re going to have to move forward through. So tell us, what is one key challenge, obstacle or failure you’ve experienced in your career? And how did you come out the other side better because of it

[00:04:17]Tonya Todd: [00:04:17] so my look is ethnically ambiguous. I know you can’t see me right now. But most throws are written for people who clearly fit into a racial category. Most roles are white unless otherwise stated. And then, you know, even casting sites, default to Caucasian. So when a role calls for a black woman, they don’t mean me.

[00:04:36] They don’t mean ethically ambiguous. I mean I mean a darker skinned woman. And sometimes people think that I can’t even pass for black. It’s, you know, I’m not white enough. I’m not black enough. If they’re looking for a family role, I don’t fit neatly into that package. So I’ve had to accept that I’m not usually what anyone is picturing when they write apart and they aren’t willing to, some people just aren’t willing to veer from that original. When it comes to writing, lack of diversity is what fuels most of my fiction. And now I’ve applied that to film. So if people don’t have my look in mind when they write their scripts, Then I’ll write the projects that have me in mind. For example, once lockdown hit in Vegas, I ended up adapting my manuscript to a feature length screenplay, and I cowrote a short film.

[00:05:20] That’s already in editing right now. And I’m currently at work on another feature. I don’t have to wait around for people to think of me before they write. I can do that on my own. Now.

[00:05:31]Dane Reis: [00:05:31] . There’s so much to be said about creating our own content, creating our own art and writing the roles that you want to play. You don’t have to wait around for people to write something that your perfect for you do it.

[00:05:44]And then you produce it. Look at it. Like you said, you’ve got one in editing right now.

[00:05:47] You’ve got another feature coming up. That’s crazy.

[00:05:50]Tonya Todd: [00:05:50] I know. I just can’t even imagine, like years ago me thinking that this might be a possibility, but here I am.

[00:05:56] Dane Reis: [00:05:56] Yeah, that’s amazing. And let’s move on to a time that I like to call your spotlight moment. That one moment in time you realized, yes, I am going to be an entertainer for a living or maybe it was, yes, this is what I need to be doing as an entertainer. Tell us about that.

[00:06:19]Tonya Todd: [00:06:19] well, I own my first gig to be Danielle Watkins. And it was just this tiny role. It was maybe two or three lines for a TV show that oddly enough, she wrote and created and produced all by herself. But before we began shooting, she put the cast through a mini bootcamp. after filming wrapped, she ended up emailing me and requested that I star in a short film that she wrote no audition.

[00:06:42]So she, she said she liked what I did in the bootcamp. And somehow it made an impression on her and it made me, you know, it’s one of those moments where you believe maybe I can be good at this. You know, maybe this is something that I can do.

[00:06:55]Dane Reis: [00:06:55] for sure. And look, if you’re around people all the time, that is more or less an audition and probably much more of an honest one, really, 

[00:07:03]Tonya Todd: [00:07:03] Right. You never know who’s watching you. You just don’t.

[00:07:06]Dane Reis: [00:07:06] For sure. And let’s piggyback on that real quick and talk about your number one, booked it moment. Walk us through that day, the auditions and call backs.

[00:07:18] If they happen to be a part of it, what was going on in your life? And what about that moment? Makes it your favorite? Booked it moment.

[00:07:27]Tonya Todd: [00:07:27] you know, you know, it’s weird. I actually know the date for this. It was October 11th of last year. Funny enough. And this this day was utter madness. I should probably preface this with something that, um, most people don’t know my business card lists my name and three alliterative titles. So it says author, actress, activist.

[00:07:47]Last year on October 11th, I started I off with a two hour shoot for a project called the or listening to her. They wanted my perspective on being a woman and being a woman of color in the entertainment industry. And then from there I had a character photo shoot for Lindsey age, which is a pilot series connected to supernatural.

[00:08:06]After that, I hit her rush to alpha voyage art gallery for authors portraits, LV, which is Las Vegas. They were doing an exhibition opening where they had, they put together a book and all that, the authors that are in that book had their portraits on display in the art gallery and they were for sale. And I was asked to read my short story during the cocktail party.

[00:08:27] So, you know, So, you know, and the opening of the gallery event. And from there, I whipped into a side room right there at the gallery and changed my clothes and flew to a performance of a Midsummer night’s dream, where I played very queen to Tanya. So it was, it was exhilarating to Don all these hats in the same day.

[00:08:44] And you know, I, even one of my super fans was at the gallery exhibit. Didn’t know about my performance and she’s, she starts, she’s like, I’m getting an Uber right now. I’m going to go see your show. I’m like, you know, maybe. I can just take you, like, I appreciate so much that you cares, you care that much, that you’re going to drop your plans to be at the gallery opening and come see my performance.

[00:09:04] And so I ended up bringing her with me and because I was dressed as the queen, she went in front of me and she was just telling everyone to get out of my room. She’s like make way for the queen make way for the queen. It was so funny. It’s one of those things. I will just never forget that day. I will never forget that moment where wow, I did all of this in one day.

[00:09:24] All of these things are me. You know, every piece of it is me and I felt like I did a lot of good work that day.

[00:09:30] Dane Reis: [00:09:30] Oh, that’s so cool. And look, it’s clearly panning out that anything you write down comes true. Hey

[00:09:36] Tonya Todd: [00:09:36] Not anything but more, more frequently than maybe comfortable.

[00:09:42] Dane Reis: [00:09:42] yeah. Amazing. And let’s take a moment to talk about the present. What projects are you working on now? What are you looking forward to? And. It’s a weird time, right? With this global pandemic. How do you see the entertainment industry moving forward in the next couple of years?

[00:10:01]Tonya Todd: [00:10:01] uh, I do think that crews are going to be smaller. Like they’re going to be fewer people on set. I don’t know how many romantic scenes are going to be present, unless you already know the people or you’re quarantining before and after kind of them. Right now, I’m in the middle of filming, a short called wild within for brain puddle productions.

[00:10:22] Like we filmed yesterday and we’re filming just different different days this month. In addition to lineage, I’m also connected to Anthony Buck. Water’s new film project, lone star, and I’m, I’m actually playing Catwoman for our fan series from nutty fish productions called DC by night. Very excited about that. And then in between those projects, I volunteer for Henderson writer’s group, and I’m just continuing to write screenplays novels and my blog on improving intimacy called 52. Love.

[00:10:51] Dane Reis: [00:10:51] . And it is time to move on to one of my favorite sections in the interview. I call it the grease lightning round. I am going to ask you a handful of questions. I want you to answer them as quickly and concisely as possible one after another. Are you ready?

[00:11:11]Tonya Todd: [00:11:11] Okay. Let’s do it.

[00:11:12] Dane Reis: [00:11:12] all right. First question. What was the one thing holding you back from committing to a career as an entertainer?

[00:11:19]Tonya Todd: [00:11:19] Imposter syndrome

[00:11:20]Dane Reis: [00:11:20] . Second question. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

[00:11:26]Tonya Todd: [00:11:26] there are plenty of people willing to close doors on you. Stop closing doors on yourself.

[00:11:31]Dane Reis: [00:11:31] Oh, that is great advice. And the third question, what is something that is working for you right now? Or if you’d like to go pre COVID, what was working for you before our industry went on? Pause.

[00:11:46]Tonya Todd: [00:11:46] keeping a schedule between my writing responsibilities, acting and volunteering. I’m spread very thin. And if, if I don’t keep a schedule, I won’t accomplish everything.

[00:11:56]Dane Reis: [00:11:56] . I think schedules are so important and to do lists, I mean, some people are big list people, some people aren’t, but I find that there’s more freedom in scheduling and having a plan.

[00:12:07]Tonya Todd: [00:12:07] Right. Right. That it’s essential for me. I, I have at the least a list, but at the most I have a schedule in 15 minute increments.

[00:12:15] Dane Reis: [00:12:15] Yeah. Um, have you read the book? The war of art?

[00:12:18]Tonya Todd: [00:12:18] No, but I’m adding it to my

[00:12:20] Dane Reis: [00:12:20] Yes. You should watch it or watch it. You should read it or listen to it. Um, it’s 

[00:12:25] Tonya Todd: [00:12:25] More of 

[00:12:25] Dane Reis: [00:12:25] about the war of art. Yeah. And it’s all about saying, ,  art is. ,  a skill that we cultivate and we do it by showing up every day and practicing that thing on a schedule.

[00:12:38] And we have these things that we do every single day. And that’s how our creativity becomes nurtured. We’re not just relying on happenstance and when I feel like it, but that you create that environment for yourself and you make it very predictable.

[00:12:53]Tonya Todd: [00:12:53] It’s very important to me that I have time to work, train and help others. And if I do not keep a schedule, something is going to get missed or something’s going to be neglected. So this is the way I, a lot time for everything that man

[00:13:06]Dane Reis: [00:13:06] great. And the fourth question, what is your best resource? Whether that is a book, a movie, a YouTube video, maybe a podcast or piece of technology you’ve found is helping your career right now.

[00:13:20]Tonya Todd: [00:13:20] it is impossible to choose just one. So I am going to, I’m going to try to limit this to three Henderson writer’s group. The, and I thought ladies tales, podcast and the masterclass series, but who knows you booked it may be added to the list very soon.

[00:13:37] Dane Reis: [00:13:37] yeah, there you go. And the fifth question, if you had to start your career from scratch, but you still had all the knowledge and experience you’ve collected from your career in this industry, what would you do or not do? Would you do anything differently or would you keep it the same?

[00:13:56]Tonya Todd: [00:13:56] I would start producing my own content sooner. I used to think it was humoristic to write myself into stories, but now I know it’s essential.

[00:14:04]Dane Reis: [00:14:04] Oh, so well said. And the last question, what is the golden nugget knowledge drop you’ve learned from your successful career in this industry? You’d like to leave with our listeners.

[00:14:17]Tonya Todd: [00:14:17] Respect your art enough to learn your craft and find your tribe so they can help you apply it.

[00:14:22]Dane Reis: [00:14:22] , really good. I think worth rewinding for everyone 

[00:14:25] Tonya Todd: [00:14:27] That’s what I like. Talk about your show because you help them find their tribe. You. You let people know who these other, who these others are, who’ve gone and done it before you so that you can reach out to them and follow their careers and potentially connect with them.

[00:14:40]Dane Reis: [00:14:40] Oh, thank you so much. That has been one of those. Really fantastic side effects that has come from doing this. And it’s one of those things that I, I had an idea of what I wanted to create when I set out doing this podcast, but there’s been all sorts of wonderful things that keep popping up that make this podcast more valuable to our entire community. 

[00:15:00]Tonya Todd: [00:15:00] Artists need to support artists, and this is a great way to do it. 

[00:15:03] Dane Reis: [00:15:03] it.

[00:15:04] Oh, absolutely. Thank you for that. And to wrap up this interview, Tanya, it is time to give yourself a plug. Where can we find you? How do our listeners connect with you? Is there anything you want to promote?

[00:15:18]Tonya Todd: [00:15:18] well, I’m available across social media at ms. Tonya Todd. And you can sign up for my newsletter and or blog at my website. Tonya That’s ms. Not miss it’s. Just ms.

[00:15:33] Dane Reis: [00:15:33] perfect. And for everyone listening out there, I have put the links to everything. Tanya just said into the description of this episode. So you can easily connect with her and be sure to share this podcast with your fellow entertainers, coaches, teachers, or those, you know, you know, aspiring to create a career in.

[00:15:53] This industry, it is an integral part of helping them succeed. And truly you booked it has become the number one largest resource of expertise in the world on the subject. And when you consider, you know, the fiveish hours or so that it takes me to produce just an episode, it really is. It’s too easy to share, to not share.

[00:16:14] And if you like learning how to create a more successful career, make sure you hit that subscribe button. So you don’t miss. An episode, Tanya, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been an absolute pleasure to have you on

[00:16:27]Tonya Todd: [00:16:27] Thank you for having me. It was great.