Tami Stronach is forever etched in our hearts as the Childlike Empress in Wolfgang Peterson’s timeless family adventure film The Never Ending Story (1984). For her turn in the movie, Stronach won Best Actress at Bravo Otto Germany and was nominated at the Young Artist Awards under the Best Young Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Musical, Comedy, Adventure or Drama category.
Tami went on to pursue a career in dance, focusing on ballet and modern, eventually forming her own dance theatre company in New York City. For the past 20 years, Tami has been dancing and performing in theatre shows, some of which she’s produced through her own storytelling shop Paper Canoe Company. With husband Greg, Tami also creates videos, music albums, podcasts, audio books, and lesson plans under the company umbrella. She has one child.
1. Describe a typical day for you?
I don’t really have typical days because I’m always juggling a lot of different projects—sometimes that can be discombobulating so I try to create to my own structure. I bring my daughter to school in the mornings and then squeeze in a yoga class before going to my home office . Lately my days are organised around generating creative projects and doing the administrative work of running Paper Canoe Company and I’m also an adjunct professor of Dance Composition.
2. What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
I think living an authentic life where you create your own oasis in this mad world is a huge achievement. I think its very easy to get fooled into thinking something is important because it pays well or has a high profile and it takes a lot of courage to say even if there isn’t a lot of recognition or pay for what I find interesting or fulfilling I’m going to pursue that anyway. I love dance, I love making art, I love teaching, I love being a mother…All of those things are in my opinion are generally seriously undervalued by our culture. Of course some of the things I’ve done have been well payed and have reached a large audience which is wonderful but ultimately we need to create our own meaning and not borrow someone else’s value system….I think taking time to make sock puppets with a kindergarten class is a great use of my time, as is making a dance film in Prague as would be making a blockbuster film. I would like to do all of those things. I would say my biggest achievement has been to stay true to my own compass.
3. What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
Oh… that’s not particularly nice….receipts–many of them, stamps, sunscreen, wallet, sunglasses, lip balm, candy wrappers my daughter stuffed in there as well as weird seeds or leaves she has collected, incredible disappearing keys I can never find till I don’t need them, and dice.
4. What are your ambitions in life?
I was a dancer and choreographer for 20 years which was amazing. Now I’ve starting acting again and Id love to play at least one more iconic role in Hollywood in the future as well as build Paper Canoe into a busy story telling shop.
Even when my daughter is grown Id like to have tea once a week—that’s a big ambition of mine.
And write a memoire…including my parents back story which was quite an adventure.
Before I die I’d love to work on an elephant sanctuary…
5. What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
I think I followed the ‘rules’ far too often and that frequently the unexpected path, the side door, the friend I met at a BBQ ended up being more productive in moving something forward for me then plugging away with all my might on a dutiful path. I have an English father—who is so lovely—but I would say we were not really allowed to be competitive in my house. It was considered impolite …I hope my daughter can feel that being competitive in a good natured way doesn’t make her a bad person…For example I did a dance audition in my 20’s and made it to the final 2…There were 1000 that showed up that day for the spot and when they asked me why they should give me the job over the other remaining girl I said…You know I think you should really give it to her because as I understand it she’s auditioned multiple times for you so she must be really devoted to this company. WHO DOES THAT?
7. What advice would you give a budding dancer and entrepreneur
Treat people well. If there is a sour apple in the batch….fire them. Its not fair to all the great people who are working well for you to keep that person around and slow the team down.
8. What do you wish you’d known about motherhood before having kids?
I should have started sooner so I could have more…It’s so awesome!
9. Finally, happiness is…doing something fulfilling where you can express your true nature….but it’s also going to Hawaii.