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Meet Tanya Dibrova

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tanya Dibrova.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tanya. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in Voronezh, Russia and was told by the doctors that I would never walk. I was to be confined to a wheelchair since they twisted my neck during birth. However, my grandmother, Valentina, said she wouldn’t accept this and took me to massage therapy, electroshock therapy, massages, etc. Little by little, I began to move my arms and legs. It is thanks to her that I’m able to walk today. She, unfortunately passed away due to breast cancer when I was three, but I will be eternally grateful to her. I bounced from one family member to another because my parents had me when they were in college and didn’t have time to take care of me. When I was three, my dad left Russia to Washington D.C to go to school, and then when I was five my mom and I flew over to be with him. (It wasn’t until high school that I found out that we weren’t planning on staying in America, we just paved our own path and ended up getting citizenship throughout the years).

I didn’t know any English when I was in school but slowly started to pick it up by watching TV. Someone gave me “The Little Mermaid” on VHS on my 6th birthday and I watched it over and over and over again until I could recite every single line from that movie. My parents thought it was amazing how quickly I remembered those lines, but to me it was just a lot of fun! I would even pretend I was a mermaid and tried to reenact her scenes. (Mostly just when she’s a human) However, it wasn’t until I saw “The Sound of Music” starring Julie Andrews that I fell in love with singing and acting. At the time, I had no idea what it meant to be an “actress” or a “performer” I just saw Julie singing and said, “Thats what I wanna do”. My parents never thought I “would grow out of it”, but I could never let go of that feeling I got when I saw her on top of that mountain. As Julie spun around and sang, “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” I let this movie completely take over my life. I could not stop singing and pretending to be her. I did it so much that my parents started to get sick of it, and honestly, who can ever be sick of Julie Andrews?! That’s how many times I’ve seen the movie. (That is also where my love for musical theatre began).

I grew up dancing (mostly ballet because I’m Russian haha) and didn’t get a chance to dip my toes into acting until I moved to San Diego and went to high school. That’s when I met my theatre teacher (who is now my lifelong friend) Mr.Oberle. He took a chance and cast me in the lead role in a play as a freshman! I was so excited and nervous; I could almost puke! I felt such a huge responsibility thrown at me but this is what I’ve wanted for a long time and I was not going to let him or myself down. Nevertheless, when it came to musicals I realized I never learned to follow an accompaniment. I STRUGGLED musically, and it wasn’t until I met my best friend Liz that really worked with me and believed in me. I decided to also take voice lessons and by my junior year, I got cast as “Dorothy”. Although I went through high school performing in various shows and even directing, self-confidence was never my strong suit.

Growing up with Russian parents in America was difficult because I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I was attached to my Russian roots and family “back home” yet I have lived in America most of my life and have assimilated to the ways here. I also found love in Liz which was unforeseen, and I had issues accepting myself for a long time. I was scared of my own shadow and let that fear take over me. I definitely missed out on some roles because I let my nerves take over. I could never seem to get out go my own way. However, when I was actually on stage and performing, I felt like that all melted away. I became this “character” and didn’t have to worry about any of my own insecurities. After high school, I attended SDSU, majored in Theatre, and met some amazing lifelong friends. I then worked two jobs for a whole year before saving up enough money to move to LA with Liz.

The first year or so in LA was very difficult not only because I was in a new city, but this was the first time I was on my own. I was now completely responsible for my survival and wellbeing, and let me tell you, it was not easy for me. I cried a lot, I was homesick, and I felt like I was completely at a loss. I questioned myself and my life choices more times than I care to admit. But as the days went by, I realized that I was stronger than I gave myself credit for. Day by day, I figured things out through trial and error. A lot of baby steps led to greater opportunities.

In the five years that I’ve been here in LA, I have done some really fun gigs and have met really wonderful people. The journey was rough on me mentally, financially, and emotionally but I believe everything happens for a reason. Throughout the years that I’ve been here, I have encountered a lot of unforeseen events but that led me towards becoming a stronger, better person. As I drive around the city, and I see the Hollywood sign, it beams at me as a reminder. It calls to my attention of how much I’ve been through and how much I have to look forward to. I truly believe that my grandmother saved me for a reason, and with this second chance, I’m “not throwing away my shot” (that’s a little Hamilton for you).

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road, there were a lot of bumps along the way. Since I majored in theatre acting, I had no clue as to where to begin with film and TV. I had no idea what a “reel” was or how to get one. Not knowing more of the business aspect of acting for tv/film. There was a lot that I learned in school for theatre, but I quickly came to find out that most of that didn’t correlate with screen acting. I basically had to start from zero. I learned a lot by myself along the way through trial and error. Being on sets was a great learning experience in various ways too, even as just background. Also, having a good survival job in between acting gigs is important. It can be difficult to maintain a job with auditions being last minute at times, so it’s vital to maintain a good relationship with your boss and coworkers. I also deal with anxiety, so checking in with my mental health is very important to me and can be a struggle at times.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As an actress, I’m always trying to seek various ways to grow as a person and performer. I also really love singing and modeling. It took me a while to accept it, but I now love my Mezzo-Soprano voice. I’m a sucker for musical theatre and Disney movies. I hope that one day I can be in a movie musical and/or voice a Disney character. I just love to tell stories and entertain people. I feel like I’m very quirky and raunchy, yet you wouldn’t really be able to tell by my appearance and the way I carry myself on a day to day bases. I would love to break barriers on looks and assumptions for roles and people in general. I also want to spread the word about anxiety and mental health because I don’t feel like it’s talked about as much as it should be.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
In this business luck is a big part of it. Being in the right place/right time. Knowing the right people. However, you can’t rely on just luck, you have to work for it too. You have to go out and do things. Take classes. Talk to people. You have to be prepared, so if you do get “lucky” you are fully equipped and can work. I’ve never considered myself a ‘lucky” person, I just go out everyday and put in 110%. Everything that I’ve accomplished or haven’t isn’t just based off of luck, it’s how much time/energy I’ve put into it as well.

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Image Credit:

The four that look more rustic (with the lounge chair, and the windows) were taken by Michael Lawrence and the other two were taken by Liz Trevi.

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