7 Questions For Tatiana Wechsler
Welcome to our new series “7 Questions For…,” in which we ask cool Jewish women about their work and identity. First up: Black Jewish actor/singer/songwriter Tatiana Wechsler!
JWA: I love that you had your acting debut as "Child #42" in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the age of 11. You wrote on your website that once you stepped out on the stage for that performance, you knew this was what you wanted to do. What was it that hooked you?
Tatiana Wechsler: Some things were easily definable for me—I’ve always loved music, so getting to make music with a group of talented artists was exciting; telling a story live in person with a wonderful, very large audience (the theater where I performed seats 4,600); the whole collaborative process leading up to the performances; the adrenaline and joy that were off the charts. But additionally, there was something in my gut, some immeasurable unknown, that just felt aligned. It just felt right! And that’s a feeling I’ve tried to stay attuned to til today.
JWA: You also mentioned on your website that your house was filled with music growing up. Did you listen to Jewish music, and did you have any favorite Jewish songs and/or musicians?
TW: We listened to lots of Jewish music! We listened to artists like Debbie Friedman around certain holidays, and my family was very active in our synagogue—we taught at Hebrew school, I would lead Junior Congregation, we would read from the Torah often —so there was a lot of liturgical music flowing in our house. But I think the favorite Jewish musician of the house had to be Allan Sherman. We would listen to his cassettes on car rides, we had all the lyrics memorized, we loved his humor and that era of music and comedy.
JWA: What have been some of your favorite roles to play and why?
TW: I was the first woman to play Curly in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and that was a hugely fulfilling, exciting, rewarding, and challenging task. It was in a production at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that reimagined the show, and not only was it a challenge to play a big, leading role, but I started the show and introduced the production’s concept to the audience. I also originated the role of Judith Ramone in Joe Iconis’ Love in Hate Nation. The show has a particularly strong young fan base, and it’s wonderful to see them connect with the piece. I really love any time I’ve gotten to work on a new piece or originate a character or play a familiar character in a re-envisioned production.
JWA: What's your dream role and why?
I have roles in pieces I’ve always loved—but the longer I work, the more I’m drawn to new works and new roles. My biggest dreams are to be able to work with collaborators I love and admire. I have many friends whose work I truly believe in, and my dream is to create projects with them.
JWA: In addition to acting, you also write songs. What musical genres and styles are you most drawn to?
TW: I love any kind of music that moves me in any way—whether that’s to dance, laugh, cry, be surprised, feel seen. I’m particularly drawn to artists who write their own songs. I love singers who tell stories or create narratives with their albums. I love songs that use strings and horns! I like to listen to everything, to see what’s popular, and to continue to expand my musical mind. I have favorite artists and songs in almost every genre. I think some of that is due to growing up in a multicultural home with many different influences.
JWA: February is Black History Month. There are a lot of different opinions about the value of designating a month for Black history in this way. What's your take?
TW: I think Black History Month is great. Black history also matters year-round. I’m concerned about the folks in our country who don’t want students to learn about Black history. All students should.
JWA: Tell us about some of the projects you're working on right now or that are coming up for you.
I recently had a solo show at 54 Below featuring many original songs that’s available to view. I filmed a role in a short film, have a number of workshops and readings of new plays and musicals (love new works!), and I’ll be doing a concert in LA. I also don’t know what’s in store yet! Things are ever-changing in the life of a performer.
How to cite this page
Richler, Jen. "7 Questions For Tatiana Wechsler." 7 February 2023. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 24, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/7-questions-tatiana-wechsler>.