Super talented multi-faceted accomplished polyglot
By Annabelle Jacoban
Photography by Jovon Robers
Tasya Teles is a powerful female role model. Although she is currently tackling the film industry, she contributes to a number of other spheres. From the business and tech industries to discussions of climate change, women’s rights, and education, Teles has a voice in each. The actress is perhaps best known for her role as Echo in the CW series The 100, but she is also set to star in the upcoming series Shoresy, coming to Hulu on May 13. It may be surprising that acting wasn’t always on Teles’ radar. Before she decided to tackle the film industry, she was interested in the tech and business industries, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Finance.
Despite growing up with a passion for the arts and humanities, Telese explains “I thought I would balance myself with finance because I felt that women–that’s one of the areas that we can have more growth in. To understand finances and be able to have those discussions and plan oneself with the knowledge of finance and money is really important.” Even as a teenager, Teles was able to recognize “male dominated” industries and the ways in which they could benefit from the inclusion of women. She claims that “money is power, so I’ll have a voice if I can live in that world.” Shortly after speaking with NY Moves, it became abundantly clear that Teles is concerned with the ways in which women impact our world, and the root of that lies in educating women. She claims that “it’s really important to talk about education, especially education with women. One of the best tools that we can equip ourselves with is going to school and getting educated.”
One may wonder where Teles’ interest in the tech industry came from. Like many aspects of Teles’ life, she was influenced by her mother: “my mom was one of the leaders in the online space. In the early 90s/in the late 80s, she did one of the first, or the first, online education course in the world… So we grew up in a very tech house.” As a result of her mother’s interest in the tech field, Teles notes that she “became a coder and a little bit of a hacker,” a “culture” she describes as being “a bunch of rebels.”
While her mother played a key role in her interest in tech and business, Tele’s mother also instilled core values into her, allowing her to be both a critical thinker and incredibly compassionate. “My mother is an academic, she’s a world traveler. I grew up traveling the world, but she has really championed and instilled education, curiosity and exploration. She’s kind of endowed me with wisdom and ways of thinking about things differently, being compassionate and curious, which I think is really important especially right now.”
“…sometimes curiosity and being a critical thinker, though a blessing, leads us to have insecurities because we are hyper aware of everything around us, and we naturally want to question everything… the worst catch-22. It’s like you know that on the other side of this discomfort is comfort.”
Sometimes curiosity and being a critical thinker, though a blessing, leads us to have insecurities because we are hyper aware of everything around us, and we naturally want to question everything. Teles speaks to this, calling it “the worst catch-22.” She notes, “it’s like you know that on the other side of this discomfort is comfort. That part of growth, which is discomfort, is where all the joy and creativity lives because that’s where you find out more things about yourself. That’s when you can see more and you’re curious, and yet we’re all so resistant to it.” This goes back to Tele’s discussion of “the culture of the hacker.” Perhaps hacking became such an interest of Teles’ they are rebels in their field as a result of being curious and critical thinkers. Teles picks up on the ways in which having these qualities can lead us to being seen as “rebellious,” but these are all experiences that contribute to our personal growth. This is perhaps the most valuable insight Teles offers (and there are many!), as this speaks directly to the ways in which change-makers may only succeed if they are “rebellious” rule-breakers. Whether one is becoming a hacker, forcing their way through a traditionally male-dominated industry, or making moves in the film industry, they are bringing about change by disrupting the very foundations that hold them back. There is something to be said for how young Teles is and how much wisdom she was able to bestow upon us in a mere hour-long interview. The actress is only 37 years old, and is somehow so wise, with a firm grasp on the many layers to the human experience.
Perhaps we may all learn something from Teles’ discussion of personal growth and the ways in which it is the discomfort that holds the “joy and creativity” of life as well as the possibility for personal development. Despite pursuing a degree in finance and having extensive interest in related fields, Teles decided to tackle the film industry, as it was a new outlet for which she could further explore herself and others.
“Going into acting humbled and humanized me a lot more than I anticipated. I came from finance, and then as I decided to tackle acting, which felt like this giant elephant, I was like “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.” But I did and it really introduced me to learning about yourself and how to deal with your emotional systems, your emotional body, your triggers, and also how you have compassion for other people.” She tells us that this became apparent in her undertaking of the character Echo: “Echo was a ruthless assassin…I’m looking at her and I’m like “How do I connect with that? How do I play her honestly with no judgment?” It brought me into learning about and exploring child soldiers and how they get taken from their families and are forced through this world of violence. That made me have compassion for Echo and it expanded my compassion for acting, taking on characters, and the beauty that it brings to be an actor and really live in someone else’s shoes.”
It is clear that Teles is deeply interested in connecting with other people in every aspect of her life. From finance and the markets, which she claims is “a reflection of emotional states,” to acting and better understanding oneself through the portrayal of another person, Teles is always looking to connect with other people. She claims “that is my biggest passion: connecting with people, challenging people to be curious about themselves and open up, and bring people up…I think every single individual is a mentor–by how you live and the way you act and how you go about your life, you’re just setting examples everyday through your life choices. It’s important to carry that integrity and that awareness–there’s a generation that’s following us and I think people have forgotten that.”
Teles seems to suggest that perhaps having such an interest in the lives of other people and wanting to connect with others is an innately feminine trait: “It’s that estrogen, it’s that connective hormone that we have so much power. Connecting with each other and utilizing it and using each other to grow is the only way. I’m constantly looking for ways to do that more and more and more. When you find like-minded people, then you continue to create that momentum.” Connecting oneself with others and having the compassion to care deeply about other individuals facilitates a sense of community, which is important in any regard but especially amongst women. Using the power within other women as well and your own power to uplift yourself and each other is deeply profound, and a lesson that is perhaps much needed given the current state of women’s rights in The United States.
CAlli Martiin Stylist Wendy Luong Stylist Assistant Lainey Thompson – Hair & Make-up