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Actress Tucker talks about being on camera

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Coming home: Joanne is in Bermuda to deliver a Biff talk tonight

For actress Joanne Tucker, childhood summers spent in Bermuda were “basically heaven”.

“It’s one of those places that draws you back,” said the 35-year-old. “I got married there. I just love the people and the place.”

Ms Tucker known for films such as Gayby (2012) and Listen Up Philip (2014), was born here, the daughter of Bermudian Henry Tucker and granddaughter of Sir Henry Tucker, the first Government Leader of Bermuda.

She left the island at four years old with her mother, Cynthia May, when her parents divorced, but returned regularly to see her family.

“I spent my summers running around on the beach,” she said. “It was a vivid sensorially important part of my upbringing.”

This week, the Brooklyn, New York, resident, brought her two-year-old son to the island for his second visit.

Ms Tucker will speak tonight at the Bermuda International Film Festival’s Talk with Film Professionals event Being on Camera.

When she spoke to The Royal Gazette she had not yet planned what she was going to say, but knew she wanted to talk about Arts in the Armed Forces, the non-profit she runs with her husband, actor Adam Driver.

“We bring high-quality arts programming to the US military all over the world for free,” she said.

They founded the charity as acting students at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City, inspired by Mr Driver’s experiences as a Marine before attending the prestigious school.

Later, he gained fame for his roles in BlacKkKlansmen and Star Wars movies The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and Episode IX, to be released in December.

“We started with one event per year and over the time it started to grow,” she said. “Now we are doing ten to 15 events a year all over the world.”

They do everything from play readings to film screenings and music.

“This is a great way to build bridges between communities,” she said.

Most of their work is done on military bases in the United States, but they go overseas once or twice a year.

“We are on military bases all the time which is usually pretty safe,” she said. “The most dangerous situation was when we went to Kuwait. When we were on the roads, we had to have the blinds down, and be aware.

“There were a couple of terrorist attacks close to us when we were there. Travelling from the airport to base was dicey, but nothing happened. My senses were heightened in that situation.

“The bases were on lock down, and we were not allowed to go into town.”

She said there is nothing else like their programme available on military bases.

“They get celebrity visits and they get film screenings, or huge arena concerts that the USO puts on,” she said. “But no one is going to them with the talent and material we take.”

“Their material doesn’t talk down to the audience, and it’s not of a military theme. It’s the type of thing you might see on a stage in New York City, a David Mamet or Sam Shepherd play.

“We have seen the effect it has,” Ms Tucker said. “People are hungry for the stimulation and the conversation. It is a release and relief and something to take their minds off their situation and something to stimulate their minds in a different way.”

For her last performance with the charity, she visited the veterans’ housing unit at Rikers Island prison in New York, to perform 100 Saints You Should Know by Kate Fodor.

After leaving Bermuda, she spent much of her childhood in New York and Connecticut. She started out in ballet as a young child, but developed a taste for acting in high school.

“I love putting myself in other people’s shoes and imagining their life from different perspectives,” she said.

At 14, she was touring with a production of the Nutcracker, when she fell ill. She was rushed to hospital and spent several days in intensive care.

“I had a ‘come to Jesus’ moment,” she said. “I remember after that thinking I will pursue this acting thing because life is fragile.”

She was a theatre major at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York and later studied acting at Juilliard. It was there that she met her future husband Adam Driver.

The two were married in Bermuda in 2013.

They both appear in the film The Report (2019) about the senate intelligence committee report on torture.

Directed by Scott Z. Burns, the film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26.

“It’s pretty intense,” she said. “It comes out in theatres sometime in September or November.”

Being on Camera will be held in the Filmmakers Lounge in the lobby of City Hall tonight at 5.30pm

Family history: Joanne as a toddler with her grandfather the late Sir Henry Tucker
Actress Joanne Tucker as a toddler with her grandfather the late Sir Henry Tucker, and the Talbot Brothers (Photograph supplied)