Rising Star Tiffany Bedwell On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry

Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine
Published in
9 min readDec 14, 2022

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You’ll need other money and that’s okay. If you’re not already a trust fund kid, you will have to make money in other ways besides acting for a while. Find the job that will give you that money but also the flexibility to leave for auditions and bookings.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tiffany Bedwell.

Tiffany is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) actor/producer/director determined to amplify the voices and the hands of the Deaf and CODA existence, which the Hearing world mutes every day. Based in Chicago, Tiffany trained in theatre and was nominated for a Joseph Jefferson Award for her performance in Yen at Raven Theatre, which the New York Times cited in its 2019 “Picks For the Year’s Best.” She studied acting in Moscow, Athens, and Detroit, and has performed on stages around the US. Her favorite kind of film and television role is the kind that can approximate the gritty, dark and terrifying characters haunting the Chicago storefront experimental stages like Trap Door. Tiffany plays one of the leads in the film Good Guy with a Gun, world-premiering at Dances With Films NY this weekend, and headed to Seattle, Edinburgh and Buenos Aires thereafter. She’s producing, co-directing and starring in Dave Reidy’s short film Fitting Descriptions, which is gaining significant attention in IMDb-qualifying film festivals. She plays a recurring role opposite Courtney B. Vance in the upcoming season two of AMC’s 61st Street, and a supporting role in Mr. Vance’s upcoming film Heist 88 (Paramount Global).

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up as the only child of a Deaf single mom. No one is more loving than she is. The empathy and resilience I use every day as an actor, and my seemingly intractable need to express myself through my hands and face, come directly from being lucky enough to be her daughter.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was supposed to be a mathematician or a doctor! I loved calculus in high school. In college, I was listed as pre-med until junior year, but secretly was giving myself this trial run at switching to theatre by taking all the required theatre classes. One day my theatre advisor was like, “Umm… this typo say you’re pre-med!” Kind of embarrassing. So I did officially switch right then, but I told myself, as soon as I get a sign that I shouldn’t do this anymore, I’ll totally stop. Yet anytime things looked dark and I felt fatalistic and was like, “Okay now it’s time for med school,” some beautiful opportunity would land at my feet and I’d decide it was a sign to give it at least one more go. I’m still giving it one more go.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

That my sons have started acting, too. I NEVER wanted to be a stage mom. Wasn’t ever going to push them into this shark tank. But then Covid happened, and all the auditions were happening at home. The commercials were all like, “Audition with whoever you live with! Audition with your goldfish!” And my boys loved it. They have headshots, they have representation now, and they’re booking stuff. I never thought I would like this, but now I’m finding that I’m also a stage mom, a manager, and an acting coach for my kids. It’s bizarre and it’s wonderful. It’s our special time together when we make their self-tapes. But if they want to stop one day, by all means, I’ll let them! I’ll be happy for them when they discover their inner fire and pull toward, you know, pre-med or whatever!

It has been said that mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I mispronounced “banal” when I did my first play. Never looked up the pronunciation; no one ever corrected me until much later when I was getting laughed at. I learned from the start to double and triple-check every single thing you do and say on stage and in front of the camera. Own it, know it, live it, breathe it. Don’t move a single micro-muscle or take the tiniest breath unless you know exactly why you’re doing it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m so excited to make the jump into co-directing and producing my first short. It’s called Fitting Descriptions, written by Dave Reidy. I play the lead Dina who is a forty year-old stage actor haunted by a past humiliation. So, she attempts to jump-start her failing on-camera career with an exercise, ordered by her agent, which requires her to stand outside a coffeehouse and ask total strangers for first impressions of her. As she’s sort of reduced to these IRL likes, comments, and actually just indifference of strangers, she has an amazing epiphany and her authorial voice just beautifully awakens. I never thought I’d direct or produce, I was scared, but when this opportunity came along, I remembered advice I’d been given not to ever back out of opportunity based off fear… so here I am, doing this.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Do you have the passion to do this? Do you have the fire inside you, the pull to do this? Then you won’t be able to stop. Okay, so this is going to seem narcissistic, but keep a log or a journal of all your positive feedback, all the things people (whom you trust!) have said about your work. Then when failure strikes (as it periodically and inevitably will; it does for us all), look back on those notes. Re-center back to that fire, that pull. Oh, and if you construct that fire, by the way, into an actual artist’s mission statement for yourself, that’s empowering. Print it, frame it. Read it each day. This’ll navigate your ship always to your true North.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Right or wrong, what we see in the mirror becomes our identity. If film and TV are our cultural mirror, then, but certain groups of Americans look in this mirror and cannot identify themselves or even see their reflection at all, how will they ever feel truly validated? Until there is substantial, visible representation for all minority groups, we all as a collective society have not yet succeeded. This is why I’m so excited to add more representation for Deaf and CODA Americans in my forthcoming projects. The more they are represented, the more the rest of society will identify them as part of the fabric of America that they already are.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Go to school in the town you’d like to begin working in, if you can. When I came to Chicago after graduation, I think I spent at least two years catching up to those who graduated there because they already had connections and I was just some new stranger in town.

2. Go into debt for good headshots if you have to. People had told me, “beg, borrow or steal” for good headshots, but I was so financially frugal, I chose not to. For a year or so: no agent interviews, no good auditions. The second I got good headshots? Doors started opening.

3. Take classes when you move to a new market. No matter how much training you’ve already had. It’s a great way to meet people in the new corner of your industry, and there’s always room to learn new things about your craft.

4. Identify the theatre or the casting agency you want to work with, and then if they’re not hiring, tell them you want to volunteer/intern for a little while, if you can afford it. Show them who you are and your work ethic, and now you have meaningful relationships; more doors open.

5. You’ll need other money and that’s okay. If you’re not already a trust fund kid, you will have to make money in other ways besides acting for a while. Find the job that will give you that money but also the flexibility to leave for auditions and bookings.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Do. Other. Stuff. I garden, I do yoga, and I love true crime, history, WWII. I have two beautiful sons and a wonderfully supportive husband and I love spending time with them. If all you do is industry-related things, your fuel will run out and you’ll be running your tank on empty. The car will stop.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

You never know what your idea can trigger. :-) Love the very next person you see. Look them in the eye and smile. I just looked a guy in the eye at a random kiosk on the sidewalk today, and he smiled right back and nodded. I was like, what a beautiful blessing of an exchange. Like, if you decide that the a#*hole who just cut you off in traffic is actually on his way to his dying mother, just imagine the abundance of love and compassion there could be to go around. Another way to do this: try voting for a different party for at least one office on the next ticket.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Oh man. There are so many. But I’m gonna have to say my mom. She sacrificed so much over the years for my care, my education, and my crazy decision to pursue a (non-medical, non-math-related!) career. I don’t know if I could ever succeed at being AS selfless as she has been, but when I even just approximate it each day, I know that I have to be at least a little bit better of a human than I was when I woke up.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Don’t ever make a choice out of fear.” Keegan Michael-Key told us this in undergrad. It’s actually what I just told you before! He said to us, and I’m for sure paraphrasing, but basically, ‘If you make a decision not to do something because you’re scared, if you rationalize all the what-ifs and horrible things that could happen, then you’ll never take a step, you’ll never transform. You’ll stay safe and comfortable.’ And really, that’s a fine life, too, don’t get me wrong — but it certainly won’t be the way to break your glass ceilings and achieve your biggest dreams.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Tatiana Maslany. I adore her darkness and her ability to channel the most dangerous parts of humanity into a character. Her work as Sister Alice in Perry Mason was inexplicably sympathetic. You should NOT have sympathy for a fanatical preacher-politician hybrid who wields God’s word to bend people to permit atrocities, but somehow, watching her performance, I was like, “YES, yes, I can see why she should try to resurrect that dead baby.”

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram, IMDb or at tiffanybedwell.com!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator