As I recline in a floral-patterned chair, feet outstretched on the matching footstool, admiring my newly painted pink toes, in walks Tamiko Robinson, donning a flowing maxi dress (ironically floral-patterned as well) perfect for the warm yet breezy weather, accentuating her lengthy figure. To top it all off, Tamiko’s warm smile proves to be one of her best accessories.
After exchanging pleasantries, we proceed from the inviting theater lobby into the cozy performance area to begin our interview. Sitting in the audience seats, only a few feet from the stage that could be considered Tamiko’s second home, we delve into the inner workings of this Nashville-born acting sensation…
Having always had a love for performing, Tamiko has an early remembrance of attending a play at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) with her grandmother at the age of nine, which solidified her interest in the field. At the age of eleven, Tamiko performed in her first play, and hasn’t stopped since.
Tamiko’s first college performance consisted of her portraying the role of the mother in Tennessee State University’s production of playwright Ron Milner’s Urban Transition: Loose Blossoms, a role, she recalls, that was “well beyond” her years. Tamiko went on to perform in other productions including Oedipus, The Colored Museum, Dance on Widow’s Row, and other original productions from local playwrights. More recently, Tamiko completed a 100-day theatrical run in a one-woman show, Miracle in Rwanda, a play based on the true story of Rwandan genocide survivor, Immaculée Illibagiza. Tamiko is currently in the works of taking Miracle in Rwanda on tour.
Beyond theatre productions, Tamiko also has experience performing in independent/short films, commercials and voiceovers. Although she enjoys all of these avenues of performance, she reveals that her favorite is stage and theatre, because of its ability to leave a powerful imprint with its viewer. There are no cuts, or do-overs in theatre; what you see is what you get. You only have that one time to get it right.
In preparing for any role, Tamiko first examines the exposition or background of the character, which she says gives her a platform from which to build, and also allows her to bring a sense of humanity and realism to the character. She learns her lines as early as possible in order to allow herself the opportunity to work without the restrictions of holding a script in her hand. Lastly, she allows herself to make mistakes, noting that “perfection will not happen.” As an effort to help her grow, she has learned to make discoveries in her mistakes. She makes sure to applaud herself but also takes the time to analyze her strengths and weaknesses.
Tamiko strives to be a well-rounded individual in all areas of her life; and one of those areas is parenthood. Tamiko is the mother of a nine-year-old son Micah, who is quite the performing artist himself. Micah dances, acts, plays the violin and drums, and has plans to start a band with one of his fellow actor friends. Tamiko states that Micah has “grown up in the arts” and Tamiko believes that exposure has contributed to making Micah a more well-rounded individual as well. “Micah has been at every performance… [and] he meets a new family” every time Tamiko has a new role. However Micah “can’t come to everything.” Tamiko expresses the importance of using discretion when exposing Micah to certain subject matter within any show in which she’s involved. Depending upon the content of a show, Tamiko has to make a choice and that choice is always clear: Micah’s well-being is more important.
Looking forward, Tamiko desires to continue to put out more work of greater social value that people can apply to their lives in order to educate themselves about the world we live in and the many issues that sometimes go overlooked. Of acting, she says, “You have to be willing to go the distance. You have to be able to live outside of yourself.” Her mantra, taken from director, Barry Scott, is to “die onstage”, meaning to put everything that you have into a performance. Tamiko says, “It’s hard but it feels incredible to have the freedom to not be afraid to let go and to commit to being the character…to let yourself off the leash…it takes a lot of dedication, blood, sweat, and tears, but you have to condition yourself.”
Tamiko finds inspiration in actors such as Loretta Divine, for the longevity and range of her career, as well as in Charlayne Woodard, for the humanity that she brings to the characters she portrays. Additionally, Tamiko finds inspiration in one of her best friends, Mary McCallum, a fellow actor and writer who Tamiko says “attacks everything she does” with an unbelievable commitment level.
Acknowledging that anything worth having is worth working for, Tamiko notes, “You have to work at everything, and even if you work tirelessly, things still may not be great, and you have to be okay with that. You can’t stop; you have to keep going.”