Friday, December 11, 2009

Talking with Tia: The Tia Dionne Hodge Interview, Part Two

In Part One of my interview with Tia Dionne Hodge, the actress discussed her roles as Angel Mel and Amelia Bennett on ONE LIFE TO LIVE, as well as the differences between playing "politics" versus "truth." In the second part of our interview we explore more about how she relates to Amelia, and what drives Tia to inspire others. 

We Love Soaps: Amelia very much plays life as “The end justifies the means.”
Tia Dionne Hodge: She has said that.  “I have a vision, I have a desire, I have a dream. How will this come to pass with the time I’m given?” Amelia has taken this on.  We can also ask, how often in our lives do we take something wholeheartedly, 100 percent? Can we all say we’re taking on 100 percent for ourselves?  That’s what acting allows me to do.  I get to take on somebody within myself 100 percent. 

We Love Soaps: Are you similar to Amelia in that way?
Tia Dionne Hodge: I think Amelia is a better person than I am.

We Love Soaps: How so?
Tia Dionne Hodge: I question more than Amelia does.  Amelia wants a particular outcome.  I can say I’ve wanted a particular outcome.  Like, I wanted to move to New York when I was a kid.  I made up my mind, I made my plans, and I did it.  Now there are decisions to be made, as a human being, as a woman, I have to make choices.  Amelia does the same thing, however, Tia Dionne Hodge sometimes get stopped by life’s circumstances and sometimes has to re-evaluate.  Amelia re-evaluates and it doesn’t take her as long as it does Tia Dionne Hodge.  Amelia will look at a circumstance and decide, “Can I use it, can I not use it? I’ll use what I can, throw away what I can’t.” I wish I was more like that.

We Love Soaps: What are some of the life circumstances that are need re-evaluation?
Tia Dionne Hodge: I’ve been very blessed in my career.  I started a film production company.  I’ve been published, I write, my play was accepted into this past summer’s Fringe Festival.  I have a lot of avenues to choose.  So evaluating which project I should be working on that best expresses who I am in this moment, it’s not easy.

My biggest thing is scheduling my time, and looking at what best expresses me  It used to be that time is money.  Now, two very close friends of mine are cancer patients.  They have inspired me to look at my life to see not that time is money, but time is just time.  What am I going to do with my time on this earth while I’m alive?  I’d rather be up to something that is of service to other people or to the gifts God has given me.  Is it to be with my friends who are dealing with cancer? Is it to just be on the phone and call my Momma?  Is it to write my next novel? Or doing readings of my next play?  Or directing a friend’s short film, or being an assistant director to someone who needs your help?

I still teach acting, because there is nothing better than mentoring a young person.  A lot of my students are preparing to audition for the college of their choice.  So I’m preparing young people in High School to get into their colleges.  And I can say that 100 percent of my students have gotten into the school of their choice.  All of them.  I put a lot of time into that.  They need mentors, the people who take the time to say, “I see something in you.”  For example, Catherine Albers.  She is a professor at Case-Western Reserve University.  It was my freshman year.  I went to school to become a mechanical engineer.  And I needed something to fill out my schedule.  So I took, “Acting For Non-Majors.” A few weeks into class, Catherine Albers told me she wanted to see me upstairs in her office.  She said, “Tia have you ever considered being an actress and a model?” I said, “Well every girl wants to do that.”  She said, “I think it’s your calling life.  Here’s my agent’s card.  I told him about you.”  That’s how I became an actress.

We Love Soaps: That’s inspiring.
Tia Dionne Hodge: It is.  And it wouldn’t have happened without Catherine Albers.  See what I mean? I want to be that for other people.  The world is unfair enough, it just is.  But at eighteen-years-old someone recognized something in that I did not recognize in myself.  I want to go to bat for other young people.  We’re told, “It’s not going to happen, life is unfair, you have to have a fallback job.”  My fallback job is acting! I went to school to be a mechanical engineer.  That didn’t work out!

This coming summer I’ll be teaching my first self-production class.  I’ll be teaching young people from ages 12-18.  I want them to feel like they're proud of what they created.  I can teach anybody how to use their iPhone and make something, especially scary movies.  I say to them, “You have an iPhone?  We can make a scary movie on your iPhone, and you’ll scare yourself how brilliant you are.  Don’t look at Tia, Tia is going to mess up.  Don’t look at what I’ve done.  Dream big.  My dreams are for me."  My hope for the next generation of young people is to give them a skill that they can look back and go, “I appreciate what she’s done, but now it’s my turn, I can teach somebody else.”  That I believe is what it’s all about. 
We Love Soaps: Tell me about Fulton Street Films.
Tia Dionne Hodge: That happened because some good friends asked each other, “What are our combined dreams, and how can we do something together that sparks our creativity continuously?” It gets us out of our everyday gig, allows us to get together, have a good time, and hopefully make a little bit of money. 

We Love Soaps: Does continuing the role of Amelia appeal to you?
Tia Dionne Hodge: I will be Amelia for as long as they let me be Amelia.  Let me tell you something, I’m a girl.  They put make-up on me, I get to wear other people’s clothes, they fix my hair, it’s dress up and play time.  The bigger opportunity is to be in that scene or on that stage or in that moment with another human being, so it’s not all about me.  As long as they have me, I will have a good time.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here for the final part of my interview where we explore the criticisms of the Amelia/Dorian wedding, as well as how Tia has learned to juggle multiple careers at the same time.

Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is blogging about surviving the holidays at

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this great interview! I hope to see more interviews with the OLTL cast members!