Tessa is a Comedian, Writer, Director, Producer and Mentor. In addition to her own shows, her production company The Furies produces the Fringe Wives Club. You can follow Tessa on Instagram.

Who or what did you want to be when you grew up?

Originally a wizard, but I wasn't allowed. So instead I followed my drama nerd heart and went into Theatre making. I had a really strong vision of being a performer from a young age, brought up on strong hilarious gutsy women like Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Lucille Ball.

What is your professional background?

I've been writing and producing comedy, theatre, short films, events, happenings and content since my first show in 2004. I've toured with my work all around Australia and the UK and have also taken work to Athens, Berlin, Paris and New York. I love the producing side of things as much as the performing for very different reasons and I make work that I'm passionate about and always has an element of social change about it. Training wise, I did a BA in Theatre and Business in Brisbane and have a Post Grad Diploma in Arts Management and also completed a year of study with Philippe Gaulier in France,

When do you feel the most creative or inspired?

When I'm bouncing ideas around with my collaborators over brunch or just before I go to sleep as my brain is winding down the ideas start popping up. ooh oooh also on the dance floor, whole shows have been written on dancefloors around the world.

When are you happiest?

When I'm cooking up a feast, glass of wine in hand, Ella Fitzgerald or Gillian Welch on the tunes and nattering away to whoever wanders in.

What’s the best stress relief advice you’ve ever been given?

Eat, drink, sleep, breathe...then the rest will follow.

What is your most treasured possession?

I mean my first instinct was to say my phone and laptop as they are my world professionally and I work and travel all the time so couldn't do my job without them. BUT THAT'S TERRIBLE TECH OBJECTS ARE NOT LIFE!! So instead I'm gonna say my amber ring that I wear everyday and is my anchor and my banjo which makes my heart sing.

What is the most important thing life has taught you thus far?

Love, light and laughter lasts longer so leave that negative energy and those emotional vampires behind and then you better werrrrrrrk

What is your number one business tip for surviving (and thriving) in your industry?

Focus on the work, make good work and back yourself. Say yes, say thank you, be genuine and hustle any which way you can to get the gig/make it happen. And this is one I'm personally loving at the moment is 'Don't Minimise', as women especially we are taught again and again to take up less space and to apologise, fuck that mates! Be the big powerful, gorgeous, talented queen you are and the others will catch up.

What is your big project or goal for 2019?

2018 was all about building the brand and audience for Fringe Wives Club my cabaret trio and our production company The Furies Present, which was brilliant and has resulted in tour bookings through to 2020. 2019 for me is about branching out into a bigger musical show and developing our content production through a youtube channel and podcasts.

Who or what is inspiring you at the moment?

My banjo teacher is awesome and I am obsessed with insta stories and my flavour flaves are Teeny Tiny Steevies, Scout Boxall and Hot Brown Honey

What do you continually ask yourself?

Why are you doing it? Is it fun? Are you happy?

Who do you collaborate with best?

At the moment it's my creative partner and 'Fringe Wife' Victoria Falconer, we work on a very similar frequency both creatively and as co-producers so things flow super easily. We have different skill sets which bring out different strengths but compliment each other well and there's a huge amount of respect, work ethic and laughter between us. We also work well over bloody marys/martinis which is great.

Who has challenged you to be better than you once were?

I had a really harsh and critical boss once in a temp job I was working it. At the time I remember thinking she was really unfair but in all honestly it taught me how to figure things out for myself and make sure things were done properly, she taught me to have autonomy over my work and to work to a deadline like a boss. It's how I like to work now, if somethings shit let's call it, be transparent and get this job done mates!

How does courage manifest in your work?

I love the word courage, it's one of my favourites. It's also a strength I really admire in people. To be courage is knowing the risks and going for it, it's putting your voice and vulnerability on the line, it's keeping on with the creative practice even when it feels like it's not paying off. In my work I think it takes courage to live the way I do, touring for 10months of the year, funding everything myself, producing and pitching myself to big producers and festivals and in the work I create. My work is unapologetically feminist, sexy, loud and covered in sequins and I'm really fucking proud of it, even when I'm doing gigs to a room full of drunken Scottish men at 3am and half of them walk out booing and throwing bottles because there is a woman on stage.

When has mentorship played a role in your life?

I've had three formal mentors in my career that have really helped me level up each time and now I'm into the third year of running my own mentorship program for young emerging artists working in comedy. I think its hugely valuable to the anyone who is starting out or wanting to expand their practice to have the support and guidance of someone who has come before them. So much of starting is out is re-inventing the wheel and if you can skip a bit of that and learn to trust yourself a bit sooner then you just grow faster. I wish is was standard practice in the arts that all mid career artists supported emerging ones it would totally change our industry. Community not competition yasss!