SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Tiana Stuart: I am an actor, singer-songwriter, and I’m currently taking improvisation classes at Boom Chicago in Amsterdam.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actress?
Tiana Stuart: I always loved singing and performing for my friends as a child, so when I went into the 6th grade, I decided to audition for the school musical that year. I landed a lead role and I loved every minute of it! I knew right then and there that I couldn’t be anything else.
SKSM: How did you become involved in The man who loved flowers Dollar Baby film?
Tiana Stuart: I saw the casting call through an actors group online and it sounded really interesting. It was going to be directed by a student and was based on a Stephen King short-story. I didn’t know at the time that it was a Dollar Baby film. That was a really cool surprise!
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Tiana Stuart: I personally love the fact that the reader is initially led to believe that it’s a happy story about a man in love. Everyone loves Spring and the nostalgia it brings. I think that’s the brilliance of Stephen King. He can take you anywhere he wants to and you just go with it, no questions asked. By the end of the story, you feel like you’ve been tricked in the most poetic, and tragic way possible. You’re left with a sense of anger towards the main character, Love, but also with a feeling of sympathy for a man who is forever searching for his ‘Norma.’
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Tiana Stuart: I had to audition for the role.
SKSM: You worked with Thomas Magnuson on this film, how was that?
Tiana Stuart: Thomas was (and is) a fantastic director. He really cared for his cast and crew and his attention to detail and continuity was extraordinary. I remember the wind blowing my hair in a different direction between takes and him noticing that it was draping over the opposite shoulder. That really impressed me. I thought, “oh man, this guy really knows how to avoid bloopers!” He also knew that while actors can make their own character choices, we still need direction. He was really great about explaining what he needed from all of us.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moments when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Tiana Stuart: Well, for the audition, I was asked to show up to this Highschool after hours and go into this room that was completely soundproof. The room was within another room and when I walked in, these two guys were there with a video camera and a hammer. Thomas explained that he would need me to scream as David was about to “murder” me. I immediately thought, “oh my god. What if these two guys are actually killing people back here and taping it under the pretense of an audition?” Needless to say, the scream was authentic.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Tiana Stuart: Me, Thomas, and David keep tabs on each other via social media and check in with each other every so often. I got the greatest picture of the two of them in LA not that long ago. It really made me smile!
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Tiana Stuart: Outside of auditioning for different projects, I am currently studying improvisation in Amsterdam and reading a massive amount of plays. I recently got to act in a film starring Ed Asner which is currently showing on the film festival circuit in the U.S.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Tiana Stuart: I am! The first book I ever read as a kid was Misery and it scared me really badly. I think I probably was too young to be reading Stephen King novels but the library had a shelf of books outside that you could read if the library was closed. That was the only book on the shelf that seemed interesting to me at the time. I didn’t read another one of his books till I was an adult!
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Tiana Stuart: My dad was a pilot of airplanes and hot air balloons so as soon as I was 14 years old, I held a students licence for flying a hot air balloon and at age 16, I soloed a powered parachute with a student pilot certificate. There is something really cool about flying in the air alone with your dad guiding you through your headphones.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Tiana Stuart: I would urge the fans to keep up with Thomas Magnuson and David Lee Hess. They are fantastic artists and I am really proud to know them and to have worked with them.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Tiana Stuart: I just want to thank Thomas again for casting me as ‘Norma.’ I really hope to be on his set again one day and I look forward to seeing all of his future projects.