Of the many realizations one may come to in the early years of adulthood, the importance of timing is one of the most prominent. It’s natural to become impatient once you’ve decided what it is you want to do, or what you wish to become, but you can’t force those things to happen. To quote Johnny Carson: “Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: Are you ready?”
There’s no doubt that being in the right place at the right time, having the talent and skill-set, and who you know play their part in gaining opportunities, but there’s more to it than just that. It is my belief that opportunities for genuine success only present themselves once you’ve stopped looking for them, but left your heart and your mind open. You’re mentally and emotionally ready, you’re willing and able, and you’re not in a rush. You’re just ready.
Imagine being at that point of readiness, and finally coming across the opportunity you’ve been waiting for – seemingly out of the blue, yet it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. A natural-born performer, dreaming of the day she’d finally see herself on the big screen, 21-year-old New York-based actress and poet, Tessa Gourin just landed her first movie gig, starring as the lead, Mary, in the dark romantic comedy, The Lucky Guy.
LF: How does it feel to not only have just filmed your first movie, but to have gotten to play the lead?
TG: Not to sound cheesy, but I feel so blessed. Countless actors go through months, even years without booking any auditions. The fact that I got the part without even having an agent or manager still amazes me. I also have yet to see the movie, so it still hasn’t fully hit me yet.
LF: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned through the experience of filming your first movie?
TG: Hurry up and wait!
LF: There was a time when I dreamt of being an actor, but I could never seem to allow myself to be vulnerable enough to transform into someone entirely separate. What does it feel like to be so in character that you become someone else, even just for a moment?
TG: I am a naturally vulnerable person, which is why I am so drawn to acting. When I am playing a character, I don’t feel that I become someone else but that I become one with them. I’m playing a different version of myself, channeling feelings and thoughts that I never would have in my every day life. Acting is like getting to know someone on a deep level, picking their brain to see what makes them tick. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes allows you to portray their story in the truest form and to hopefully make whoever is watching really feel something. It’s giving a voice to the voiceless.
LF: What was your childhood like, growing up in such a big city? How has your perception of New York changed as you’ve become an adult?
TG: My childhood seemed pretty normal when I was growing up but as I’ve become an adult I see that New York City and especially the Upper East Side is the farthest thing from it. Picture girls who have barely hit puberty carrying around Chanel purses and boys whose voices still haven’t dropped using their parents’ black cards to buy tables at exclusive clubs, which we somehow got into. Everyone thought they were the epitome of cool – me included. It’s both hilarious and completely nauseating at the same time. I definitely grew up comfortable, but I never had the insane wealth that most of my friends did and I used to resent that a lot. In hindsight I am grateful that I didn’t grow up possessing all those things. It’s the one part of my upbringing that was relatively “normal” and in the end it has made me more down to earth and slightly less jaded.
LF: How did you feel about school when you were younger? How are you finding your studies at the William Esper Studio?
TG: I hated school when I was younger mainly because I wasn’t interested in what I was learning or the way it was being taught to me. The only classes I liked were drama, art, and English. Everything else was complete torture. As a passionate actor I love studying at the William Esper Studio especially since I was privileged enough to be put in Bill’s class. I feel like an eager sponge ready to absorb every word he says. He’s an absolute legend and going to his class is the highlight of my week. It’s also really inspiring to be working with so many young actors who share my passion.
LF: Along side of acting and being a student you are also a poet. What drew you to poetry, rather than other forms of writing? What motivates you to write?
TG: English has always been one of my favorite subjects in school, so I love most forms of writing except for essays, which I find boring. I was drawn to poetry in tenth grade of high school when I first read Allen Ginsbergs’ Howl. The fluidity and raw emotion struck me. That’s what I like the most about poetry – there is no correct way to do it. You just release all these emotions on a page without really knowing how it’s going to turn out, which is very similar to the way I approach acting. They are both creative outlets for me to express the way I feel.
LF: What is the last poem or book you read that made a lasting impression on you?
TG: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
LF: I hear that you’re big into Marilyn Manson (I am too). What are your top 3 favorite Manson songs?
TG: Yes, he’s brilliant!
1. Third Day of a Seven Day Binge
3. The Beautiful People
LF: If you weren’t pursuing acting, what do you think you would be doing?
TG: In a nut house somewhere.
LF: How FAST do you live?
TG: Depends on my state of mind.