Natasha Dawsen interviewed Canada’s own Tahirah Stanley… now a native New York actress… and activist.
As one of ten children, born into a single parent household, where resources were tight, Tahirah learned early-on the importance of drive and determination. Theater became a positive outlet for her to express herself.
She has trained extensively, appeared in several theatrical productions, such as Marat/Sade, The Laramie Project and Romeo & Juliet and has done work in TV/Film. Tahirah is a graduate of The Lee Strasberg Institute, where she received a full scholarship to participate in the two-year conservatory program. Her passion for acting is matched by her passion for social change, and in 2011 she launched a youth program called Theatre for Peace. Tahirah recognizes the transformative powers of the performing arts and hopes to share this with her audiences and her Theatre for Peace, youth participants.
DQ: We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?
Tahirah: Ever since I can remember I have always been extremely empathetic. Whether it was seeing the young boy in primary school get bullied or hearing about a war happening on the other side of the world, I have always felt deep pain and suffering for others. When I watch a news story, a film or even a play, I always find myself completely imagining what the person/character is thinking and feeling. Growing up this way didn’t always help me. I have put my safety on the line for others on many occasions and have even been badly hurt. My empathy is my way into acting and it is what drives me to create everyday. I am a vessel, and I am inspired by the bravery and vulnerability of the people/characters I encounter daily. I want to share their stories.
DQ: What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”
Tahirah: I want to use my platform as an actor and creator to share stories that may otherwise go unheard.
DQ: Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?
Tahirah: Acting is not all I can do BUT it is the one thing that has held on to me. I say ‘held on to me’ because there have been times that I have questioned this path because of its uncertainty BUT it always finds a way to pull me back in. It’s a visceral, almost spiritual, connection that I cannot seem to pull away from.
DQ: Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?
Tahirah: One of my favorite quotes is by Aristotle, “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross; there lies your vocation.” With that being said, acting has always been my way of giving back to the world. If I couldn’t act anymore, whatever I decided to do, would have to be servicing the needs of others.