Hi everyone! I hope all is well for you. If you’ve been following my blog in the last couple of weeks, you might remember me mentioning an upcoming interview with a movie star from the 80’s. Here it is! I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Tami Stronach aka the Childlike Empress from the 80’s classic, “The NeverEnding Story.” How cool is that?? Tami spoke about her New York based company, Paper Canoe Company, “The NeverEnding Story” and more! This was one of my favorite interviews! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Me: After reading about your life, I find it very unique and interesting. You’ve traveled the world, acted, speak several languages, danced and now stay busy with Paper Canoe Company in New York. What is your main goal to accomplish when it comes to Paper Canoe Company?
Tami: Art has always been a refuge, a place where I felt that I was learning things and able to express myself. As I get older and I have my daughter, I really want her to be influenced by stories and art in a positive way. I want her to have the same sense of refuge, comfort and inspiration through stories. Our world is different and changing. The way in which we get our stories is also changing. (It involves a) digital market and downloading things. I am really interested in creating a company where you trust the curation process.
Paper Canoe is just being burst, it’s just a baby company right now. The vision for it is to someday be an app and a (web) site, a place where you know you can send your kid. There’s going to be really nourishing information on there. I’ve been an artist my whole life but I’ve also been a teacher. Anything from Paper Canoe is going to be positive, uplifting, intellectually stimulating, aesthetically sophisticated and fun! I think after 20 years of working in live performance, I am now interested in cracking digital, Internet stuff.
Me: Is your daughter involved with Paper Canoe Company?
She’s involved in everything! She’s the reason why I started this company. Becoming a mom was such a transformative experience. We sit around the dinner table and talk about the stories we’re building. She has a lot of ideas! She has stories she’s developing. She has her own story book. I love the fact that she’s growing up in an environment where we take each other’s imagination really seriously.
Me: Do you plan on recruiting children from all over the country or just in New York?
The content we make doesn’t actually involve children. We tend to write our own stuff and hire musicians to play music. All of the artists we hire to work with us are professionals who don’t necessarily work in a medium for family entertainment. We are interested in working with high caliber artists. I think Pixar managed to do this very successfully. They created a company where parents are just as excited to watch a Pixar film as the children, maybe even more. Their stories are just SO good, they can appeal to all ages. Pixar is very unique and inspiring. We want to make podcasts, songs, videos, games, educational content. We want to have shorter, smaller projects. We would also like parents to be engaged in the content. That is not easy to do. The best kinds of stories can be revisited over and over again.
Me: Is there any advice you could offer someone who wants to become a part of the performing arts?
Tami: Trust that there is a space for what you offer. If you hear no, that’s just the universe directing you to a different door. It’s not negative, it’s just a no to that project. I think people hear no and it can shut them down and make them close. When you find the door that says yes, enter that door and work really hard. Don’t let no stop you. No doesn’t mean stop. It means keep going until you find a better fit.
Me: “The NeverEnding Story”…I’m sure you get asked about starring in the movie a lot. I still enjoy watching the movie in my 30’s. I grew up watching it in the 80’s as a child. Do you think the movie offers any life lessons for people of all ages? If so, what do you think they are?
Tami: Becoming an adult can sap one’s ability to care, be emotional, compassionate and to dream. Having hope and optimism can be beaten out of us as adults. I think “The NeverEnding Story” is an incredible and fantastic tale that reminds of that inner child inside of us. This will help the world stay more positive and filled with light. I think there is a real hunger for stories that remind us of the value of our inner child. It’s not an easy thing to do. I think people kind of want to hear this right now.
Me: I’ve read there probably won’t be a remake of “The NeverEnding Story.” Do you think there should be a remake? Why or why not?
I know Michael Ende didn’t want to allow a remake. Generally speaking, I am a real fan of taking stories and retelling them for each generation. I think there’s a lot of creativity involved in the retelling of things. There’s something really interesting and useful about allowing each generation to put a stamp on how a story can be relevant to that generation. I love the retelling of the classics. At the same time, I am really emotionally attached to the “The NeverEnding Story” as it is. Michael Ende didn’t even like the film. It’s sort of ironic. I love the film! There is a really big difference between the book and the film. They both really work in their respected mediums. I love that the film captures the 80’s, this particular moment in our culture. There’s a nostalgia about it. When you look back at the film, you aren’t just remembering the film. You’re remembering who you were at that time. There’s certain films like that…like “ET.” I just watched it with my daughter the other day. It just transports you to your childhood and who you were. There’s something so incredible about making that journey. It’s like a time machine that can connect you to who you were.
Photos from October Coast