For the past couple of years I have been fortunate enough to help represent the Body Glove brand
at the annual Save Our Surf charity event and have observed first-hand the passion of Actor Tanna Frederick, the founder of the non-profit organization. Tanna is the epitome of a bold human being. Her love for people, the ocean and willingness to make difference has inspired me to new heights, and I know she will inspire you!!
The following is my recent Q & A session with amazing Tanna:
Tell me a bit about where you come from. Where did you grow up? What were your interests/passions when you were young? I grew up in Iowa in a big family whose life and sustenance depended on the land and taking care of it. We were all hyper-sensitive to the weather, the changing patterns of the soil, the climate, the animals. Not only that, but the past time of my family, friends, relatives was to take vacations in nature. It was our ‘time-off’. Picnics, camping, hikes…
We had a huge beautiful state laid out in front of us with tons of wildlife and wilderness and very little cement and city life. I have always derived happiness and peace from the natural state of things. I will always work to keep things undeveloped and closest to their natural state.
I wanted to be a garbage man as a kid, so I could ‘pick up all the garbage that people dropped on the ground.’ Instead I became an actor, but I still consider myself somewhat of a garbage man. I like to clean stuff up. Even more than that, I like to not have to clean stuff up, for it to be kept clean in the first place. I believe we can maintain that in this world, and in our oceans, and will fight to see it happen.
When did you realize that you have a passion for acting and the arts? How did you first tap into that passion? I don’t ever remember not having it. I was born with it, and started doing theatre at a very young age, as many shows as I could do every year. It was never a question of not acting, because I can’t live without it. I’ve always experienced the divine dissatisfaction of never having done enough, refined my work enough, learned more, played enough roles.
You seem to be a person who dares to follow your heart. What advice can you give others about following their own? Life is short. The worst enemy of each of us is that little voice inside our heads that tells us to be ‘reasonable’. There’s no time for being reasonable. We are a tiny blip, one sixteenth of a frame in this whole history of a 35 mm movie reel of existence of this universe. Make the most of what you got because it’s a lot.
What does the ocean mean to you? It means life, it means support, it means peace and sustenance…It means magic and possibility and mystery, and our ultimate family tree – where we came from – it’s our key to the past and our future. It means family, it means love. It means healing. And it means surfing. And surfing means total world domination. Just kidding. But it is what I love, so I like to keep my playground clean.
When did you learn to surf? How has learning to surf affected/changed your life? When life feels incredibly difficult or I get frustrated by rejection or the stress of being in a very challenging industry, I suit up and get into the water and everything becomes peaceful and serene. I catch a wave, get tossed about underwater, see a pod of dolphins swimming by, get bitten by a playful seal, and am reminded that I am minuscule in the scheme of things. I take myself less seriously and am reminded how lucky I am to be a tiny organism and get a little taste of this big amazing planet. It calms my mind, gives me perspective that I’ve never gotten through another sport. Tames the rabid actor’s ego.
Can you describe what it feels like to ride a wave on your surfboard? Like flying. Like losing your virginity (can you put this on the internet, if not it’s okay — note from Jen — yes you can!! It’s all about being bold here :-D ). Every single wave. Because it’s just that time, that moment, that wave, that will never be the same again. Only that moment and what you do on that wave is what you have, and no wave and move is the same – ever.
How did Project Save Our Surf come about? What drove you to dive in and dare to make a difference?
Frustration with getting sick and seeing the other surfers get sick from dirty water. Watching surfers, who I see as silent heroes, cleaning up the water one piece of trash at a time, and realizing that they should be at the forefront of ocean conservation movements. Their efforts should be seen and heard as leaders and examples of what to strive for. Because they know, they experience daily changes in the oceans on a mental, physical, and spiritual basis. They care.
Any ideas on how people can best care for the ocean? There are endless ways. What I believe in is first and foremost just plain ‘showing up’. Showing up at Project Save Our Surf and supporting each other and coming together to acknowledge a common interest is a HUGE step within itself. My fundamental approach to this organization is accessibility and education. Those two key elements create action and movement. To go from having 30 people three years ago on the beach to 6,000 this year shows the power of movement, the acknowledgment for change, and the beginning of change. To educate yourself, to read one article a day, even a week, on water conservation is a simple example of what I would recommend people start with. And then, in turn, to eventually get involved with people who are rallying together for the cause of our ocean preservation, even if it’s one day out of the year, to just ‘show up’, can build mountains in terms of protecting our fragile ecosystems.
How can people get involved with Project Save Our Surf? Easy! Check out the website, click on participate, sign up to surf or volunteer in next year’s event…Join us in our trips to the Gulf, or put a team together. Also come on board and express ideas we may not have thought of, raise issues you want to see addressed, come to us with a project you’d like to see happen. We’re just a baby in terms of organizations, and we have a ton of freedom and excitement and fresh perspectives thanks to everyone who is stepping up to the plate…And we need more people!
You are an amazing example of someone who has dared to become an activist — you have jumped in and created a powerful movement!! What advice can you give to men, women and children who want to make a difference in the world, no matter what their area of activism? How do they create a movement of their own? Inspire yourself. Let others inspire you. Create a family of people who surround you and support your same efforts, and never lose sight of your goal and your ultimate purpose. Do not let petty fights or ego or personalities get in the way of that. Remain true to those dedicated to your mission, fight to keep them around you. Realize how tiny we are, how great the fight is, and stay the course. Start with baby steps, because those are the biggest steps even though you don’t realize it, and never diminish the enormity of your work.
What are your secret ingredients to living a bold life? Do something that scares you. All the time. Challenge your body and your brain, because it expands your soul. The second I’m scared, I know I’m alive. Thrive on that. Take risks. Take what you don’t think you can do, make the goal forty times bigger, and go after that. You’ll be shocked at how amazing you are.
What is your favorite quote?
“You can just take this job and shove it.” Haha. It’s weird. Why can’t I come up with a better one that that? I don’t know. It’s just the first one that comes to my mind. Because I think I’ve never wanted to be in that position. I’ve seen a lot of people in jobs they hate. And even working the worst jobs out here, packing pasta, answering phones, cleaning toilets in Pizza Hut, hauling pans of ribs at catering events, I was on a mission. And I was determined not to have a 9 to 5 job because it didn’t work for me. I never wanted to say, ‘I don’t want to go to work today’. I didn’t want to need a vacation, because I wanted to love what I was doing too much that it felt like one great, exciting vacation. I’m pretty darn close to that.
– Post by Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold