Chat with Tati Gabrielle from Netflix’s hit series “You”

Tati Gabrielle can be recognized as Marienne from season 3 in Netflix’s hit series “You”. Currently, she stars as the breakout ‘Prudence’ on Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”. She is about to star on the big screen, opposite Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg in Sony’s "Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune", which premieres on February 18th in theaters. Tati is an agent of change and is a conscious supporter of DEI initiatives, mental health awareness and sustainability.

Tati Gabrielle can be recognized as Marienne from season 3 in Netflix’s hit series “You”. Currently, she stars as the breakout ‘Prudence’ on Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”. She is about to star on the big screen, opposite Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg in Sony’s “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune”, which premieres on February 18th in theaters. Tati is an agent of change and is a conscious supporter of DEI initiatives, mental health awareness and sustainability.

Tati, you had a main role as Marienne on Netflix’s hit series “You” in the third season. How would you describe your experience of starring in “You”?

At first it was really mind blowing because I loved the show before getting on it. It was one of my favorite Netflix shows. And then when I started talking to Sera Gamble, our show runner, and Silver Tree, our producing director, andsort of getting the vibe of what they wanted for Marienne for the season and what the trajectory was sort of gonna be for Joe this season, it was like wow. Being able to craft a new formula for this show with them and be able to have Marienne be this different kind of girl that Joe was up against, was really exciting for me and really interesting. I was really happy too with the way that Sera treated Marienne from a racial standpoint, because as far as Joe’s obsessions, I am the first black girl that is Joe’s obsession.

I really appreciated the way in which Sera was always open to communication on things and really wanting to stay true to the representation of Marienne from the perspective of a black woman, not making her so oblivious to certain things, making her sort of clued in this way and just highly aware. And I loved working with Penn, he’s such a good, generous guy. He’s been honestly one of my favorite people to work with cause he’s just a great person to bounce things off, he’s very communicative, like ‘Did that work for you? How can we make this better?’ And anytime that I wasnervous about something or whatever, he was just always so supportive. I had an awesome experience working on this show.

Will we be seeing you in Season 4 as well?

I don’t know if I can talk about that or not. What I can say is hopefully, cause we don’t know where Marienne went and where she is. We see Joe go to Paris at the end of season three and you can only presume that she is there, but you know, we don’t know where Marienne is. You will have to wait and see.

In February, your film “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune” is coming to theaters. What can you tell us about this film, without giving away too much?

I was able to see a pre-screening of it just a few days to go. And it’s a lot of fun. It very much keeps you engaged and keeps you like you have people that you wanna root for to find this gold, to win. This is always so hard for me to tease without getting anything away. It’s very action packed and it’s also very heartfelt. There are some very heartfelt sort of punching moments as you follow Nate’s story and his journey, from not only his past, but into his future and what that looks like for him. It’s a different kind of coming of age story, in a very wild way. 

You performed in and directed several theatre productions. Would you say theatre was your “first love” or did you always know that you wanted to pursue acting?

Theater definitely was my first love. There’s just a different energy that comes into theater, there’s nothing like that live feeling. You only get one chance, you don’t get a second take, you don’t get a redo, this is it. And you learn, if somebody misses a line, how do you fix it on the spot. The energy that you get from the audience and how that informs a performance is just a very special experience that I don’t think that film and TV could ever really replace. Though, I love film and TV for its own reasons and the way that you are able to build a world more tangibly. But yeah, theater definitely is my first love. I knew that I wanted to go into film and television at some point because I always said that what I wanted to do with acting is that I wanted to change the world through storytelling and how do you reach the largest audience in film and television versus theater. It is something that I always knew I wanted to move into, but never letting theater go and theater is something that I do wanna get back into one day.

What is the most valuable thing that you have learned from acting so far?

I think the most valuable thing that I’ve learned through my acting career is to trust one self in all aspects and to stay true to one self, stay true to your morals, to your ethical code and moral compass. For me, when it came to ‘Uncharted’ and being up against Mark Wahlberg and Antonio Banderas, I had this moment of imposter syndrome, like I don’t think I’m supposed to be here. But just having the thought of trusting yourself, like you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t supposed to be here, made it okay. When it comes to this whole sort of celebrity part of this industry and whenyou’re choosing your career path and where and how you want things to go, you don’t have to say yes to everything.You can trust yourself when it’s like: ‘You know what, I’m gonna pass this thing, it doesn’t feel right to me. It’s a great opportunity, but I feel like somebody else could fit that better or there’s something else that could fulfill me more’.You’re in control more than you realize. And I think that that’s something, especially for young actors, we’re not told enough. We’re told that we have to play the game, that we have to pay our dues. That is all sort of true, but you get to dictate those rules. You don’t have to listen to somebody else to tell you that you can’t do this or that you should take this little role so that you can get the bigger ones. If you wanna wait for the big one, wait for the big one. So the biggest, the most valuable lesson that I’ve learned is trust yourself. In our industry it’s also very easy to lose yourself if you don’t have a strong sense of self. It’s so important to maintain center and to keep yourself intact.

If you had an opportunity to change one thing in Hollywood, what would you change?

If I could only change one thing, I feel like this would then cause a lot of other things to change as well,  I would make it so that there were creative people making the big decisions. Right now in the industry, it’s usually the business people that make the huge creative decisions, which to me is very backwards and a lot of things get confused or misunderstood. The communication from set to the studio is not an easy line of communication because there are uncreative people trying to dictate to creative people. If we had creative people in those high positions or people with strong creative minds, it would change so much. It would change the trajectory of stories. I feel like it would change the diversity issue that we’re having in Hollywood. Creative people need to understand that we’re reflecting the real world and in order to do that you need people of every color, creed, gender, everything. Just have this great trickle effect to make Hollywood a more responsive, responsibly impactful space. And what I mean by that is that Hollywood has a lot of responsibility.

Hollywood is sort of in charge of telling the world what’s happening right now. How are we supposed to be, how are we supposed to behave. That’s why we have people that think a certain way about a certain type of person because they saw it in a movie. But that movie didn’t depict that type of person correctly. So, I would make creative, consciouspeople in the high power positions. 

In your own words, how would you compare your acting career at the beginning and now?

In the beginning I was very lucky to have my career start somewhat quickly, from the time of me getting to LA and getting to it. Of course at that time, the jobs were coming far few between and everything was always a game of chance. And I think that now in my career, I’ve finally sort of started to come to a place where my name is starting to become established. I have people asking me to just take a role as opposed to auditioning for things, which is incredible and really mind blowing at times. It’s definitely been a very solid and steady journey for me and I’ve honestly really loved every step of it. I’m a person that really loves the grind. I would just say that the biggest comparison is that at the start I had to pay my dues or I had to work definitely 10 times harder. Not that I don’t work just as hard now, but that opportunity was not as accessible in the beginning. And now I feel like opportunity is flourishing for me. So I’m very grateful for that.

You have an interesting mix of heritage, your mom is Korean-American and your dad is African-American.  How would you say this heritage impacts the person you are today?

I think it has a huge impact on me. Since I was little I always had dreams and visions of a colorblind world, of utopian world. Colorblind not in the way of not seeing color, but colorblind in the way of colors not beeing the obstacle. And it was due to the fact that it was two completely different races and ethnicities looking at my parents, literally standing in front of me. This is what the whole world should look like, cause it’s a beautiful melting pot. I feel like it also had a huge effect on the way that I perceived or the way that I was able to understand, respect and honor, from the standpoint of both the Asian side, as well as the black side. Being able to take from both cultures and sort of put them together into my own philosophies on life I think helped me have a much more well rounded view of how to move through life, because I was able to get two different perspectives. It definitely made me more culturally curious as I grew older. In school I wanted to major in international studie, I wanted to know as much as I could about every ethnicity, race. It became a fascination for me. 

Tati, you are a huge supporter of mental health awareness. Why is this initiative so important to you and why do you believe it is important to talk about this more?

It’s really important to me and it’s something that’s very close to me cause I have had my struggles with mental healthgrowing up, particularly starting in college and all the way to now. To me it’s really important to talk about mental health because our mind is what controls everything that we do. So if the mind is not healthy and the mind is not happy, nothing that you wanna do in life is ever going to work out the way that you want it to. It’s crazy to me that speaking about mental health issues or speaking about mental illness is so frowned upon, so taboo. I encourage people to talk about it more too, from the standpoint that it helps people find a very easy way of connection, because we all forget to realize that we’re all going through a lot of the same things most of the time, that we’re all just trying to figure out life, nobody is better than another person. And when I’m able to sit down and talk to somebody that could be 20, 30 years older than me about mental health issues and we are still able to find common ground and be like: ‘You go through that too? Can you tell me how I can help myself in going through that?’

I think the mind is just a very powerful and precious thing and it deserves the utmost level of care, sometimes even more than the body. You hear stories of people who have been able to cure illnesses within their body by just hearing their minds first, which I think says so much in itself. To me it’s just a very pertinent thing. I know I wanna free myself with it, which is why I talk about it so openly and I want others to feel free and not alone either. I mean, it’s also because in a lot of cultures we’re taught that talking about your emotions makes you weak. For some reason that is the permeated sort of message. Like for you to be emotional means you have a weakness.

One of my favorite quotes that I saw when I was really young was: »From the day you were born crying has never been a sign of weakness, but a sign that you are alive«. And that is something that I’ve always kept at the forefront of my mind. Being emotional is good, we’re human. That’s one of the most beautiful things about us being able to be human, that we don’t have just primal instinct like animals do. When an animal gets bitten, it’s gonna react. But we’re able to have rationale. We’re able to feel deeply about things we’re able to love, we’re able to be hurt, to be heartbroken. These things, whether it’s a negative emotion or positive emotion, we’re able to make magic with. To me that’s a magical quality to have, because of the way that it allows us to see and appreciate our world with those emotions. So, emotions are never a sign of weakness. It’s something I hate so much when people say that or people feel that way, cause being emotionally intelligent is the best thing for our world in general to help move us along.

What does balance represent to you and why do you believe it is so important to have it in your life?

What balance represents to me is if you take a Venn diagram and you have five points on it: you have work, you have family and friends, you have livelihood or hobbies, you have love and relationships and you have health. All of those things should be at the same level, you should never be giving more to one than the other. Balance to me also equals a full life that is fulfilling. And it’s important to me to have balance because I feel like it’s hard to be able to enjoy life without that balance. If you’re constantly worrying about something or worrying if something’s gonna work out or if this thing is gonna go wrong or I haven’t paid attention to this thing or I’ve got a bad knee cause I didn’t go to the doctor, it lowers your quality of life when you’re not able to be balanced. We all wanna live good lives and have a high quality of life. Simply put that’s what balance means to me and why I think it’s important.

Besides “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune”, we’ll be seeing you in Netflix’s series “Jigsaw” soon. What other projects can we be excited to see you in this year? 

I have some projects that I’m waiting for start dates on, so I can’t really talk about them yet. Hopefully I will get another film under my belt this year. And I’m also looking to start producing products of my own, the first being a TV series that I’m currently in sort of pre-production for and I will be in that series as well. Hopefully we can get that started if not by the end of this year, a top of 2023. What is coming out this year as well is season three of ‘The Owl House’ on Disney Channel, which is the animated series that I do. 

A special message from Tati to our reaaders:

»Something that I always tell everyone is in everything that you do, always lead with light and love. Those will always be your saving grace, those will always be the things that will lift you up, that will lift others up, that will get you what you need and what you want. Give light and love not only outwardly, but also to yourself, because self care is just as important. So, always lead with light and love and always trust yourself in everything you do.«

Talent: Tati Gabrielle
Photography: Jack Waterlot 
Stylist: Jean Chung
Editor: Timi Letonja 
Make-up: Laurel Charleston
Hair: Jennifer Wimmerstedt
Nails: Mamie Onishi

This interview was done for Numéro Netherlands by Jana Letonja.

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