Tasya Teles

Tasya Teles

Tasya Teles

Tasya Teles

Tasya Teles

talks feminism, creative expression, and the importance of therapy

talks feminism, creative expression, and the importance of therapy

talks feminism, creative expression,

and the importance of therapy

talks feminism, creative expression, and the importancee of therapy

talks feminism, creative expression, and the importancee of therapy

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INTERVIEW BY CARIANN BRADLEY AND MICHELLE STEWART • PHOTOS BY DAVY KESEY • SEPT. 20, 2019

STREAM TASYA'S SHOW "THE 100" ON NETFLIX HERE. FOLLOW HER ON IG HERE.

INTERVIEW BY CARIANN BRADLEY AND MICHELLE STEWART • PHOTOS BY DAVY KESEY • SEPT. 20, 2019

STREAM TASYA'S SHOW "THE 100" ON NETFLIX HERE. FOLLOW HER ON IG HERE.

TASYA: I think all the crossroads of where I am today began when I was living in Montreal and I was getting my degree. I think distance has put me in a place where I was…it was manifesting physically—and it was really cold there in the wintertime. So one winter after my birthday, I was walking home from a friend’s house and it was like minus thirty degrees celsius. I came home and had a normal night, I just had a glass of wine with her, and I woke up and had meningitis. So long story short, I was stuck in bed for almost three months and in that time, I couldn’t even sit upright—I could talk and call my friends and stuff like that, but I had to do everything lying on my back.


And so I was lying there, and my mom knew that I was looking at women’s studies because I was interested in feminist movements, but I definitely know where all of the ones of the past lead us today—and I think this was back in 2006 or 2007, and I was kind of wondering ‘why are people so resistant to call themselves feminists?’ and I just wanted to learn more about that and I was curious about transferring my major. So, my mom sent me this stack of books that I read. And had I not had meningitis, I probably wouldn’t have even gone there. One of the books was about—it’s called “Half the Sky”—a sort of movement about liberating women all over the world that are enslaved through various ways. Like human trafficking is a very obvious one, but there are other ways through legislation of trapping women who don’t have any resources, such as they don’t have any child support, or they don’t have support for specific needs. And that book kind of changed my life because it really put into focus what my passion is—which is to spread the word about these issues and speak to other girls about it, and shake off these taboo qualities we have with the word feminism or being a feminist. To this day, some of my girlfriends are like “Oh, I’m not a feminist, Tasya is a feminist, but I am not a feminist.” And I’m just like “Who are you kidding right now? You can vote, you can work, you can do all of these things, you have to be on birth control, for god’s sake you’re a feminist, you just don’t want to call yourself that for some reason.”

 
CARIANN: What was the book you mentioned again?


T: “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” I think they turned it into two movies with George Clooney and a bunch of other celebrities that are showcased in the film. But yeah, it was incredible. That book really opened my eyes to how powerful women are and how, when they seek opportunity or have access to finances, they don’t make changes just for themselves, they make changes for their entire communities. So that’s what makes me so passionate about supporting all of these grassroots movements that are happening worldwide. Because they have lasting implications and they are amplified by these strong women in the world who are creating them. It’s like a collection of stories, but it’s so awesome that with every different story I read I was like “Wow!” That book was just inspiring.


C: I think I’ve read too that you’ve done some work regarding human trafficking; is that true?


T: Yeah, I mean I’ve been—for years actually—kind of dragging on because my support system that was helping me with it grew and shrank and grew and shrank. I don’t have a lot of time to do it all on my own so what I’ve been doing is, I started something called “Unslaved” which is basically selling bracelets to raise money. Helping women across the globe on a grassroots level, and what I do is make a limited number of bracelets, and whoever buys the bracelets—first of all, the money goes to charity, and second, they get to design with me the next generation of the bracelets, so they have to write about how human trafficking affects their country or their city or whatever and make a design based on what they’ve written. So that people will start to become aware that it’s not just happening elsewhere in the world—some of it is happening in New York City or the most metropolitan towns.

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C: That’s really awesome—the work that you’re doing.


T: Yeah, so actually I’m hoping to get that finally launched this summer. It’s been such a long process, but it’s gonna be great, so hopefully there will be a lot of talk about creating support systems for one another and taking care of each other and our own mental health issues. I’m really happy that you guys are talking about that.


C: Yeah, us too. Thank you. It’s been really crazy the amount of support that we’ve gotten. I think people are just really looking for a platform like this regarding our anonymous submission site. It just goes to show that people are still really scared of telling their stories, even when it is anonymous. Whether that is a story about their mental health, or about abuse, or about sobriety, or anything. So it’s been really interesting to watch it unfold, and for the brand Midnight Woman to come into something that exists rather than just a brand inside my head. It’s taken on its own existence, it’s really interesting.


T: That’s incredible. I think people just don’t really understand what mental health encompasses. I think that there’s a lot of—people used to think of mental health as being mentally disabled or having a really specific named thing like you were depressed or you had bipolar—but it’s a lot more broad and a lot more nuanced, as people are coming to realize now. It has to do with everything from addiction, anxiety, stress, depression, eating disorders, and so many different things. I think the world needs what you’re doing.


C: Thank you so much for saying that. Really. I’m kind of interested to know too, your passion for women’s studies and women’s independence—you play a super independent character in “The 100” and I want to know how you feel playing Echo. And how your passion for feminism incorporates into your character.

"...it really put into focus what my passion is—which is to spread the word about these issues and speak to other girls about it, and shake off these taboo qualities we have with the word feminism or being a feminist."

"it’s a tough, crooked path to walk through life."

T: It’s interesting because part of the reason I went into finance [in college] is because I wanted to have a voice, and I just wanted to make sure I was living in my power and being a strong woman. I didn’t know what that meant when I was seventeen and I was applying to university. I was shooting in the dark so I was like “Finance!” But it’s funny how the universe, if you’re paying attention, will lead you where you’re supposed to go. Because I didn’t end up in women’s studies, and yet, I have the opportunity to be talking about women’s issues and connecting with women all over the world and representing a strong woman on screen that a lot of people connect to. It’s a beautiful thing. I think one thing that really strikes me about Echo is her sense of coyness, and her sense of—she’s very silly, but she keeps everything inside and makes very calculated choices. At first, I saw that for some reason as something that was a little bit shifty or manipulative—well, not manipulative, but it was a mysterious quality about her. And I didn’t really have an opinion on how I felt about that. Then recently when I was flying back from Spain, I saw this documentary called “RBG” about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was awesome, and it kind of reinvigorated me with all of these things that I could do when I got back—getting into supporting women and getting back on the “Unslaved” thing. Not only that, but it also spoke to being a feminist. 


One thing I think women should see—I remember in the documentary some women in the seventies that were leading the feminist movements. They were on these newscasts, talking to news anchors that were very macho guys who were like “So what do you think burning your bras mean? Do you think that’s actually gonna change anything? Blah blah blah…” and the way that the women handled it was so masterful. They were not affected by him, they didn’t bark back at him, they didn’t try to show strength. They kept it really light and turned the joke around on the newscaster. Because nobody wants to deal with anybody—whether it’s feminism or any issue somebody is trying to push to hard in your face—who isn’t very receptive in conversation. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg really represented that to me. She’s kind of quiet and very stoic, and it isn’t about pushing ideas, it’s about creating a confrontation and educating and making it really soft and easy for people to come into somebody’s ideas because there’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made. With Echo, I find that that’s something I can really see—she’s not so much calculating as she is weighing everybody’s opinions and thinking of what the best strategy is. Playing someone who has a voice taught me a lot because I used to be someone filled with energy just bouncing around all the time, so it’s been empowering playing Echo for sure. 


C: That’s awesome.


MICHELLE: I can really see that, too, come across in your character—just the way you describe how she’s kind of being calculating and taking everybody’s opinions in, but not being too in your face about it, and respecting that and making that change. I can really see that. 


T: Awesome, thank you. 


C: I do want to ask, what’s your advice for younger women who are trying to find their voices or externalize their experiences?

"When you live in a creative space, I think that’s when you’re most connected to your authentic self. "

"When you live in a creative space, I think that’s when you’re most connected to your authentic self. "

T: I think it’s a tough, crooked path to walk through life. Mental illness impacted my life in huge ways. There are moments that sometimes last longer or shorter, but are maybe even always there nagging at you about your life, the meaning of everything, what you’re doing, are you doing this right, how do you find your own sense of self, how do you stay in a place that’s honest and protect yourself, and that was something for me that was really difficult to find. 


I was always sort of looking for things, and the thing that really unlocked it for me was when I found one of my mentors who I stay as close to as I can. He’s actually an acting coach, but he works at like the highest level, he’s most famous for being Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting coach all his life. He travels the world and the advice he gives, and the life lessons he gives, and what it’s like working with him on stage, are so profound. One of them was, “All of you, you all need to go get therapy.” I don’t even know if I know anybody who doesn’t need therapy. You have to find a good therapist, and you have to stick with them. And I remember I’d go back to his workshop year after year, and after the third year, I’d taken all of his other advice: “work on your voice,” and I’d get voice classes, etc. But I never went to therapy, it was too expensive. But it is worth the money when you find a good therapist. I just can echo I’d take an extra shift every week to pay for my therapist, my specific for therapy shift. And it was hard to find a good one, you can find one where it’s just not really clicking and you have to find someone else, but I finally found someone. For me, she’s more of like my life coach. I walk out of every session feeling like I can conquer the world and all the problems feel a lot easier to handle. 


I’ve found that by finding good teachers, finding different support—which I think is the most important thing to do—you surround yourself with people who bring you up. You can fall back if you’re being surrounded by negativity without even realizing it, so you have to realign. But find the teachers that will be able to give you advice, will care about you, and coach you through the hard times. Go to therapy and express art. I think that’s a huge, huge thing that often gets ignored. Even me as an artist, I need to give myself more creative time that I don’t find myself doing as often as I like. But when you live in a creative space, I think that’s when you’re most connected to your authentic self. That expresses itself for people in different ways. I used to paint, but I’m very physically expressive, and I just love acting, so that was the one I fell in love with the most. But now what I do almost every day, but not every day, is writing. Just writing. Oh my god, when I’m writing distantly and just getting all of that noise out of my head and just putting it on the page, I don’t even know what I write, that is so, so healing. I find that you can find your inner voice really quickly by committing that time to writing a few pages every day.


C: Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you.


M: That’s really sound advice. 


C: It is, it’s really great advice. Do you have anything that you’ve watched recently that you’ve seen that has inspired you?


T: Oh my god, totally. I’m just in a space right now where I’m really hungry for external forces of inspiration. When I’m moving around a lot and traveling a lot, I get jet-lagged and I really want to just order Door Dash and watch Netflix. Now it’s a little more structured, and I’m finding myself watching videos of women speaking at the podium giving really incredible speeches. Like the RBG movie, I feel like every woman should watch—it’s so incredible. For me a lot of inspiration comes from the fans. A really unexpected source of the light and inspiration is connecting with everyone who watches the show and it really humbles me and reminds me that no matter what you go through, we’re all the same. Some people come to mind on Twitter who I talk to like they’re my regular friends. I understand what they’re going through, I’ve gone through it, and I might still be going through it. I love just talking with them and connecting with them. We make plans and set little goals together. So yeah, inspiration comes in all forms.

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Have you been to Midnight Woman? That's our sister.

Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences anonymously.

We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. l'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.

Midnight Woman is an online platform that welcomes contributors of all kinds to submit personal experiences.

We aim to redefine the way we talk about what's happened to us, no matter the subject. L'Odet exists for the named to encourage the nameless.