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Conversations with Erich Tamola

Today we’d like to introduce you to Erich Tamola.

Hi Erich, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Comedy was and is a survival and coping mechanism. It’s a way for me to make sense of the world. Making people laugh just feels good, so I want to keep doing it as long as I can.

I was born in the Philippines and moved to the U.S in 2000 with my family. We moved quite a lot, from place to place – so I learned how to make friends quick. I found that the fastest way to do that was to make a joke. I remember the making my 5th grade class crack up. The joke was dumb, but it was off the cuff and I still remember thinking, “this is the best feeling ever!” I’ve been chasing the same exact high ever since.

I did theatre in high school and I enjoyed it but didn’t think it was going to turn into anything – I was still on track to become a registered nurse at some point. I took a free improv class one day and the whole world changed. I loved how much power it gave back to me, my words were my own and I was able to have some control in my life back. I played as much improv shows as I could, and it lead to this whole new creative world in Los Angeles that I never knew existed. The more I wanted to become a better improviser, the more I realized I would have to learn how to become a better actor too. I would have to add range to my acting. I would do more sketch shows so I could practice. I signed up for acting classes. It all became this creative cycle that fed itself, and it saved me. Comedy and acting got me into places I never thought I could be. I’ve done commercials for NFL on FOX, Baywatch: The Move, Wendy’s and most recently a social media takeover for the 2020 Oscars.

Best piece of advice I can give to you as a creative is: work on giving yourself joy over the course of your career. No one else will do it for you. Give joy to yourself first, and the rest will follow.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. Absolutely not!

A lot of people will tell you stories about fat years and lean years and I definitely have gone through both. At the beginning of my career, I had to convince my parents that being an actor and a comedian was the way to go – instead of being a nurse. I fought with them a lot about it and eventually compromising to finish nursing school first – get the degree and then go after my dreams. But halfway through my nursing program, I kept getting anxiety attacks, which was my body telling me, “Hey, don’t do this! Don’t become a nurse!” I dropped out shortly after. It was tough to reconcile with my parents about that decision because once I pursued my acting career, I didn’t book anything for years!

As if making it in this industry is not hard enough, my employment/immigration status is always up in the air every two years because I’m a DACA recipient. I’m one of the Dreamer kids that the news is always telling you about. Kids that were brought to this country by their parents and now are in this sort of immigration purgatory. Never fully knowing if they will have to go back to their home country because this country deems them unnecessary and unfit for legal work.

I guess I do want to take this chance to be able to say, you should support your Dreamers and any legislation that will permanently legalize them in this country.

Through all of this, the jobs came, and I pushed through all the rejection that is inevitable. I’m thankful and much stronger for the obstacles that were presented to me. They made me the creative that I am today. I don’t know what it was that kept me going. I mean, I know – I believed in myself and was blessed with great teachers and a great support network. Lots of prayer and meditation too! Lots and lots of it.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I’m a Fil-Am actor and comedian. To keep it short and sweet, I’m very proud to be creative. Whatever you need done creatively, I think I have a good shot at making your magic.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
Feel free to reach me through my website. I’m also on IG: @erichtamola. I’m pretty dang good at getting back to messages. Let’s work together!

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Image Credits:

Nick Rasmussen, Tom Banks & Leah O’Connor

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