A film written, directed, and produced completely by black women has finally hit theaters! The woman behind the successful film? Get to know, Tamara Bass.
Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, Tamara Bass graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA. She used her education in Theater Arts and Screenwriting at the prestigious university to direct her first full-length play, a thesis production of “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf,” marking its first production at Loyola Marymount University. It also signified the first time that a full-length play about people of color, was performed for the university.
While still a student, Tamara began her professional career in front of the camera. She soon landed recurring roles on “The Fugitive,” opposite Mykelti Williamson and “Boston Public,” and guest starring roles on “Any Day Now,” “Moesha,” “Sliders,” “Haunted,” and “Cedric the Entertainer Presents.” Tamara made her studio film debut in John Singleton’s “Baby Boy,” where she portrayed “Peanut,” the mother of one of Jody’s (Tyrese Gibson) children. In addition to film and television, Tamara is an accomplished stage actress, who has appeared in productions from Los Angeles to the National Black Theater Festival, as well as the Off-Broadway premiere of “I See Fire in the Dead Man’s Eyes.” From interning at “The Steve Harvey Show,” to producing and directing award-winning short films and shining on the silver screen, Tamara was a multi-talented star in the making.
Today, Tamara stars in the film, If Not Now, When?, but she is also the mind behind writing the screenplay, as well as co-director and co-producer along with co-star Meagan Good. This film is the first time that two black women have co-directed a feature film that was written by one of them, where they both co-produced and starred in. If Not Now, When? was nominated for the Jury Award for Best Narrative feature, Best Screenplay, and Best Director at the American Black Film Festival where If Not Now, When? premiered.
Following her success with her first film, Tamara began directing on the film Don’t Waste Your Pretty, a movie inspired by the book of he same name. Don’t Waste Your Pretty stars Keri Hilson, Deborah Joy Winans and Redaric Williams.
BELLA got to know Bass a little better and found out how she manages to master it all…
A jack of all trades – actor, writer, director, producer – share with our readers how you got started in your career.
Yes! I got started as a kid in community theater and high school productions. I decided early on that I wanted to do this for a living and immersed myself in all things art. Once I got to college, I expanded from acting to writing and directing. Producing came naturally because I’m a bit bossy and very much a control freak! I am also extremely detailed oriented, with a problem-solving mentality. Those are good traits to have in a producer. I see the big picture and love to find creative ways to get there.
You recently directed your second film (congratulations!) How did it feel directing your first?
Directing my first feature was great because I got to do it alongside one of my best friends. With this story, it felt very natural for us to tell it. And I got to hire myself, so there was no competition for the job! Directing my second was affirming because it was the first time someone else saw my vision and said yes. It was great!
Of all the roles you juggle in film, which do you enjoy most, and which do you find the most challenging?
I love them all. Honestly. If you told me all I could do was direct from now on, the actor in me would die a slow death. If you told me all I could do was act, the director in me would always be setting up shots or figuring out how I could get a different performance out of my co-stars, which would drive the actual director crazy. If I couldn’t write anymore, I would feel there were whole worlds left unexplored. All of that to say, I need to do them all.
“If Not Now, When?” marks the first time two Black women have co-directed a feature film that one of them wrote, and both of them produced and starred in. What does such a monumental accomplishment mean to you?
To me it means that we get to show two little black girls currently trying to do this, that it’s possible. I hope it means that we are dismantling the notion that Black women can’t get along and we can affirm that we have a voice that needs to be heard and not marginalized. We heard a lot of “no’s” along the way, coupled with a few “you guys are crazy”, but resilience led us here. I would hope that this shows that every no leads to the right yes.
I’m sure our readers can expect big things from you in the future. Anything you can share? And how can they follow along on your journey?
“Don’t Waste Your Pretty” is set to debut on TVOne on February 28th, which I directed. I am also currently in production of a film for Lifetime that I wrote and executive produced, that stars Deborah Joy Winans. That will air later this year. She and I are also currently making the rounds, pitching a television show that I created that will star the both of us. You can follow along on my crazy journey at @mizztamarabass on both Instagram and Twitter!
If Not Now, When? is now in theaters and streaming on demand, and Don’t Waste Your Pretty is set to premier on TV One on February 28th.
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