The Daily Quarterly: What made you want to be in show business?
Tamara Duarte: I was about 10 years old. I wasn’t really thinking about “show business” but more so performing. My older sisters were a part of Portuguese plays growing up and I remembered thinking, “I want to do that!” So a few years later I did my first play in Toronto. I guess the show business side of it came when my older sister Sonia helped me get a commercial agent and drove me around to auditions, meetings etc., but she was attending college at the time so it was short-lived until I was able to drive myself.
TDQ: Who was your favorite actor or actress growing up?
TD: Jim Carrey always made me laugh. I did classes at Second City in Toronto early on and remember walking in and passing his photo everyday. He inspired me to be brave in my work and take chances.
TDQ: What was your favorite TV show growing up?
TD: I’m one of those annoying early bird people. I’d wake up at 5:30 every morning before school and get in some “Inspector Gadget” and “The Magic School Bus.” My favorite show as I got older was “Friends.”TDQ: What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
TD: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard
TDQ: What is the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?
TD: That I need to play the “single sexy young actress” card. Act as though I don’t have a family, a husband and a step child? I am young, but I’m not going to hide something that is such a big part of my everyday life and makes me who I am. I’m proud of that.
TDQ: Who are your influences?
TD: Ellen Page inspires me. Not only is she a talented actor but also she is a creator, producing important content. She is a mover and shaker who not only inspires but influences people.
Tatiana Maslany. I love watching her work in “Orphan Black.” We have the same agent and used to attend the same class in Toronto. There are some people that light a fire in you when you see them work. She is one of those people.
TDQ: Tell us about your role in “Badsville”
TD: I was going though a lot in my personal life and Suzy was going though the same life lesson. It was a deep connection. I ran into April Mullen at an event in Hollywood. We got to chatting and she sent me the script that night. I FELL IN LOVE with it and emailed her back immediately after reading it. Within the next few days, I went in and met the team and the rest is history. I’m so proud of April, she was just honored at TIFF this year at the Bricks Women in Film for a film called “Below Her Month.” The majority of the cast were around the same age (the greaser gang) so we hung out a lot and became fast friends. It’s like being at summer camp. Suzy had a very hard shell. She wouldn’t allow herself to be vulnerable. There is a line that Wink says that I chuckle at when hearing it because it related to my life so much at the time:
Sammy: “How are things going with Suzy?”
Wink: “I don’t know little cat. Her walls are built up so high I can’t figure her out.”
That was me for SO LONG. I’m fiercely independent and all Gerald (my husband) wanted to do is love me and I wouldn’t let him.TDQ: You also appeared in “Longmire” on Netflix. How has Netflix changed the way people watch TV versus network television?
TD: Yes I play Mandy that is coming back for season 6. She is Cady Longmire’s assistant at her new law office on the Rez. I think that we are in the golden age of television! I haven’t had cable in 5 years. I watch everything on Apple TV and have all the channels, news, music, shows, movies I want when I want them.
TDQ: What was your experience like working on “Degrassi: The Next Generation” being on such an iconic TV show?
TD: It was such an amazing experience. Playing such a controversial character and pushing social norms on the show really helped me understand why I do what I do. It helped me understand that I can effect, inspire and change lives through art. I owe that to the Degrassi family.
TDQ: Where do you see yourself in five years?
TD: Having my little ones getting tomatoes from the garden, working on a film that I’m writing right now and publishing a children’s book.