By Rosemary Pacheco
It’s a come-back story – one of great fortitude and persistence. For Rhode Islanders, it’s a cathartic journey right alongside one of their very own. What’s more is that it was made right here in the “little state that could”. It’s the lm called BLEED FOR THIS, the story of Vinny Pazienza, ve time world champion boxer, who refused to retire after an accident left him severely injured and almost paralyzed.
When the word came down that BLEED FOR THIS was going to be filmed in RI, Paz’s home state, people got excited. Actors clamored for a shot at auditioning for principle roles. With Martin Scorsese producing and Ben Younger directing, they knew it could be a shot at the big time, a chance in a lifetime.
This is where East Greenwich resident Tanja Melendez Lynch comes in. Born in Brooklyn, NY and raised on Long Island, she garnered a much coveted spot – as the “woman at the bar” at Twin River, opposite the hot young star Miles Teller. It wasn’t easy, but she stayed in the game, and eventually the time paid off. It’s a come-back story of her own, at a time when her children are grown and her drive to succeed is evident.
Tanja joined a local children’s theater group at a young age mostly involved behind the scenes. Later, At UMass/Amherst she wrote and performed her own skits with a comedic improv group, where she was able to come out of her somewhat shy shell. Eventually she joined Boston Improv where she performed anywhere she could on weekends and rehearsed weeknights.
Fast forward a couple of years after college and Tanja, now a wife and a mother, gave up acting to take care of her family full time. The acting bug, though, never left her. Five years ago she went to Trinity Rep and began taking classes on the dramatic side this time. She also went to Boston, taking classes with two of the top casting directors in town, Angela Peri of Boston Casting and Carolyn Pickman of CP Casting. Virtually all Hollywood films that come thru New England go thru these two offices, and many New England actors are cast in featured or small speaking roles. The competition is fierce.
To build up confidence and feel comfortable, Tanja began doing background work on big productions in lms like MOONRISE KINGDOM, filmed in Jamestown RI and RIPD, filmed in Boston and Providence. She eventually submitted for principal supporting roles in locally produced indie films. A big break came when she got the role of Kathy, the drunken neglectful mother of young Emily, the films protagonist, in ALMOST MERCY, also filmed in RI. The film is produced by Woodhaven Films, the other half of Verdi Films, one of the producers of BLEED FOR THIS. This film was a turning point for Tanja, as it allowed her to join the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) union and to work with such actors as Kane Hodder (FROZEN, THE AFFLICTED, HOLLISTON) and cult classic horror star Bill Moseley HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, ROGUE RIVER). Tanja has also done web series roles, such as Girl in the Attic, due out soon, a production I had the pleasure of working on with her, soon to be released among other local films and projects.
These days though, Tanja has taken a new role – that of producer. She just finished starring in the role of “Jane”, and producing ANDERS MANOR (see IMAGINE Dec/Jan 2017), a horror story due out in March. The movie has a distribution deal in place. This one promises to be a “hide
under the covers” flick with plenty of fodder for nightmares.
Her family life comes first though and when she’s not with them; Tanja continues to study her craft both here in Rhode Island and frequently travels to NY for training and coaching. She has auditioned for supporting roles in major movies like JOY, GHOSTBUSTERS, PATRIOTS DAY, and LIVE BY NIGHT. She considers just being called in to read for these movies a huge win in itself.
BLEED FOR THIS received a theatrical release late last year. You can also see Tanja soon in CODE 13: UNREADABLE, a cop drama in which she plays the role of Audrey.
To keep up with Tanja, visit her page here: http://imdb.to/2hrtncY
Rosemary Pacheco frequently writes for IMAGINE Magazine. She also works as an actor in the biz.