When Tasia Sherel walks into a room it’s difficult not to notice the model turned actress. She has a shock of short wispy blonde hair, bright pink lips, and radiant, practically glowing skin. Her walk exudes strength and confidence and her handshake is firm as she looks you dead in the eye smiling, her teeth a glistening white. When I sat down to talk to Tasia, best known for her role as cosmetologist Pam on the television show “Everybody Hates Chris,” it became quite clear that this woman is more than a pretty face.
Dennica’s Place: What have you been up to lately? I know you are doing a showcase?
Tasia: It’s “30 to Life,” sponsored by NBC. It’s the 2nd diversity initiative for actors, writers and directors who are minorities to get them more on television. Episode of “What About Brian” coming up and next month I have a movie of the week on the Hallmark Channel entitled “Broken Hearted.” I’m actually just doing a lot of theater now.
DP: Yes and that’s interesting because I know that’s where you started. I know you were born and raised in Chicago and then you moved to NY. Was that a conscious choice to move there and try and pursue theater?
Tasia: It was conscious to go to NY, but I was a model at the time and oddly enough I wasn’t doing theater in Chicago or NY. I didn’t start theater until I was here (Los Angeles), which is odd.
DP: That’s crazy
Tasia: Yea I was very successful at modeling and the second beauty pageant I won took me to NY where I got an agent from winning the pageant who thought I had too much charisma and personality to just model when I could be acting so I said well hook me up, what do I do? So the first acting audition she sent me on I booked the job, but I sucked. I got the job because they liked my personality. I decided to pursue it professionally and really get serious about it.
DP: So it sort of fell into your lap a bit then?
Tasia: Oh yea it totally fell into my lap; I was totally content with what I was doing (modeling).
DP: Having grown up in Chicago and living in NY how was coming to LA?
Tasia: I’m here for my career. I’ve learned to love Los Angeles. People are different. You need to find out who you are and be true to that person. Everyone feels like they have to conform because it’s Hollywood. Just be you.
DP: I want to go back and talk to you about theater for a bit and ask you about Embodi, the theater company you started out here. What prompted you to get that going?
Tasia: You know it’s funny. I’ve been here six years next month and my first year here I really wanted to be around like-minded real individuals, how do I do that? I was riding in the car with my husband on the way back from church and it came to me to open a theater company. I’ve always been about the African American woman and we celebrate and glorify the strong black woman so we look for sisters that write, act, direct, produce and that’s what it’s about. It originally started as five young ladies and it was going to be our group; the initial approach was to just do it all. It ended up being a reparatory theater company. After that I was blessed with the Inglewood Playhouse and being the Artistic Director over there…When I first landed no one would know who I was. I didn’t want to be the actor to complain so I said how do I be proactive? I wanted to be here and be busy so within 6-9 months I started the company.
DP: Tell me about “Everybody Hates Chris” and how you got the role?
Tasia: I was doing my first theater festival over at the Inglewood Playhouse so I was busy, preoccupied, which I think helped because I didn’t have to think about it. So I went into the audition and I wanted to get in and out because I had to be on the other side of town. I think the fact that I was a licensed cosmetologist helped, the fact that I had lived in NY helped and that I had that mentality and I am sure it didn’t hurt that I had this natural stand up Statue of Liberty hair. So it was like any other audition and then I got the callback at 8am and a few hours later my agent called and asked me how I was doing and told me I booked it. I was totally content with one time, but I gelled with Tichina Arnold who plays Rochelle the mom and she said, “You were great. You should come back.” So I said girl hook that up. They just kept calling me back and that was really my big break.
DP: As an actor, being on set can be pretty grueling with 14-16 hour days, as well as the constant auditioning so coming out here with your husband he needs to be pretty understanding.
Tasia: My husband is cool as hell and you can quote that (laughs). He is my best friend. When he met me he said, “you definitely need to be an actor.” I had been modeling forever and I am sure it was an adjustment, but I never saw it. He says baby go break a leg and he has his own thing going. He’s a writer and I am about to head over there (the Inglewood Playhouse) I am actually producing one of his plays.
DP: So are there times then you prefer being behind the camera than in front of the camera?
Tasia: I enjoy both. I enjoy producing; I love it. I can honestly share this with you. Before I booked “Chris” I was totally content doing theater.
DP: Well then ideally where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Tasia: Ideally I would love to have my own series; I really love television. I’d love to do more film. Ultimately I would love to own my own studio… you know it’s funny when we got married and we moved here I said just give me five years; at four and a half I booked “Chris.”
DP: Being here now for six years is there any advice you would give to actors who want to come out here?
Tasia: You know I am also a motivational speaker so I am big on knowing who you are and being true to you. Just be true, seriously, people will recognize whatever talent or skill you have. On that note have a skill, have a talent, study your craft, don’t sue your looks thinking that getting breast implants and a nose job that you’ll be hired. I tell the kids that I talk to being cute is just going to get you through the door, but what are your bringing to the table once you get in the door.
DP: What prompted you to start speaking?
Tasia: I was teaching at a modeling school in Chicago. The modeling school sent us out to the high schools and we had topics we would talk about and I found that the kids gravitated towards me like a big sister. It was something I also fell into and I felt a sense of gratitude. It made me feel good about myself, and it was something I was doing for others.
DP: The experiences you take you share and are able to really give back.
DP: So what’s next? You have a play opening at the Inglewood Playhouse?
Tasia: Yes a play I am producing and acting in called He Came Not to Destroy written by my husband. The dates are April 5-May 6. An awesome cast; Aaron D. Speers who had a supporting role in “Babel,” Billy Mayo who has a recurring role on “Boston Legal” and was in “Grey’s Anatomy,” Shirley Jordan, lots of fabulous talent and it’s a pleasure to work with them. You can check it out by going to plays411.com… so that’s what’s coming up next. I never just sit around and wait; I create.
To find out more about Tasia, check out her website at: www.tasiasherel.com