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UI alumna to speak at screening of film

BY RILEY UBBEN | MARCH 03, 2011 7:20 AM

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When Tanna Frederick graduated from the University of Iowa, she took the next step, though she admits it was a risky one. The aspiring actor packed up and moved to Los Angeles, leaving behind everything she knew in pursuit of her dream.

“If I had children, I would never let my child do it,” she said. “So God bless my parents for that.”

The risk paid off, and the UI alumna will take a break from LA to return to Iowa City for a screening of her latest film, Queen of the Lot, at 6:30 p.m. today in the Bijou. Frederick will answer questions after the film with David Proval, an actor in the film, who is best known for his role as Richie Aprile in “The Sopranos.” Admission is free for UI students, $5 for nonstudents.

Success didn’t come for Frederick instantly. She spent four years waiting tables at 14 restaurants to pay the bills, while auditioning for parts, handing out head shots, and acting in UCLA student films.

She got a big break when she wrote a letter to Henry Jaglom, a well-known indie director in the area. He ended up giving her a chance, and she put together a play using the skills she credits the UI theater department for teaching her.

“Because I’d gone to the University of Iowa, I was used to having new material in my hands,” she said. “I found producers for it, I found the director for it, I found actors for it, and it ran [in LA] for a year.”

Jaglom attended every performance, and the director ended up starring Frederick in his next four films.

Alan MacVey, the director of the UI theater department, says that while the number of factors involved makes it impossible to tell who’s going to make it in Hollywood, Frederick showed promise during her time in Iowa City.

“Success is the result of a lot of things: patience, talent, hard work, luck,” he said. “What I could tell was that she had great potential. She had a very positive, infectious personality.”

Hearing about Frederick’s success is encouraging for such students as Amelia Peacock, who performed last fall in the tragedy Freezer Dreams. The freshman was the recipient of a scholarship set up by Frederick for Iowa students looking to break into the entertainment business.

“It’s definitely encouraging and a testament to how great the Iowa program is, that someone from Iowa City can make it in Hollywood,” Peacock said. “It’s definitely something to look up to.”

Much like her own life, Frederick’s character in Queen of the Lot is an aspiring actor from Mason City who finds success in LA. Don’t go thinking the movie’s a biography, however; Frederick insists that the character she plays is only an exaggeration.

“I’m not a psycho, I swear,” she said. “For a lot of it, I used a heightened sense of myself. I used all of these desperate stories of actors that I had heard and reflected on those.”

Though she pokes fun at the idea of a desperate actress from the Midwest, her contributions to and constant praise of the university make it clear she won’t forget where she came from.

“I think the moment that I started doing well was the moment that I really embraced my Midwest roots and stopped trying to pretend I was something that I wasn’t,” she said.


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