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Henry Jaglom o descobridor de David no cinema

Actress wraps up Drake's entrepreneur conference
Rising star from Mason City relied on creativity and risk to succeed in Hollywood.

By MARY CHALLENDER
REGISTER STAFF WRITER


March 1, 2007
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In her eight years in Hollywood, Tanna Frederick has played - with varying degrees of enthusiasm - a paleontologist, a drug dealer, a martial artist, a mental patient and a comic book character with a face that could kill on sight.

Friday at Drake University, the 20-something Mason City native is looking forward to trying on one more role - successful young entrepreneur.

Frederick will be the final speaker at the sixth annual Collegiate Entrepreneur's Iowa Conference, a daylong event filled with sessions on such topics as writing business plans and developing effective marketing strategies.

An actress might seem an unusual choice to end the conference, but Deb Bishop, director of Drake's John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, said Frederick represents the entrepreneurial spirit.

"A big part of being an entrepreneur is creativity and risk-taking," Bishop said.

"We thought, what better person than someone not much older than the students, to talk about how she pursued a dream. How she took an idea that was with her since she was little and ran with it."

Frederick admits she was a bit taken aback at first by Drake's invitation. Then she did some thinking about how she spent her time.

"What I do out here is 95 percent business and about 5 percent acting," she said. "Most of the time you're running a business, with you as the product.

"I'm not going to feel like a jerk standing up there. I'm excited about coming and relaying information about getting through rejection and getting through successes."

That she has finally found success is something Frederick is still getting used to.

Star of the upcoming feature film "Hollywood Dreams," she now owns a "gorgeous house" in Santa Monica, Calif., next door to Bob Dylan.

But it's the role she plays in the movie - the underdog from Iowa trying to make it big - that she really relates to.

"I've done OK," she admitted. "I'm a little shocked."

Valedictorian of her class at the University of Iowa in 1999, Frederick said she knew by the time she was 9 that being an actress was her calling.

As soon as she graduated, she packed her Honda Civic and headed to Los Angeles.

She lived on the couches of college friends until she was able to afford her own cockroach-infested apartment in an area of North Hollywood best known for drug dealers.

"Now that I look back on it and think what I went through, if I could have known what was in store for me, I never would have done it," she said.

"It was just blind stupidity and ambition, which really served me well. Stupidity can be a good thing."

In her first years, Frederick says, she sandwiched 20 to 30 hours a week of acting class in between jobs as a waitress, office assistant, personal trainer, home health care worker and product sample distributor.

She learned that as hard as it was to be rejected for a part, sometimes being accepted was even worse.

She tried to keep an open mind during auditions for a "feminist" film when she was told her character would be naked most of the time save for a white sheath.

Her concerns grew when she learned about the scene where she was to be strapped to a cross and tortured by pimps.

But it was the director's insistence that they share a hotel room that proved the real deal-breaker, Frederick said with a laugh.

Her big break came when she wrote a letter - like most successful entrepreneurs, she knows the power of schmoozing - to Henry Jaglom, a longtime independent filmmaker known as a discoverer of talent, including David Duchovny. Jaglom chose her for "Hollywood Dreams."

He invited her to a screening of his movie, "Festival in Cannes." She got one of his early plays produced and starred in it.

He created the film's lead character, Marge Chizek, for her.

Frederick is making the most of her time in Iowa, arranging screenings of "Hollywood Dreams," including one in Des Moines on Friday afternoon at the Varsity Theater.

She'll also be back in April, as founder of the Iowa Independent Film Festival. Frederick said the festival, slated for April 20-22 in Mason City, will feature more than 45 films.