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Rising Star Tara Henderson: “My Mom always reminds me that I have the opportunity to bring joy to people through my work”

I feel it is always important to find joy in your work and be grateful for your opportunities. This helps me get through the most trying times. No matter what stage of my career, my Mom would always remind me that even though I may not be where I ultimately want to be, I still […]


I feel it is always important to find joy in your work and be grateful for your opportunities. This helps me get through the most trying times. No matter what stage of my career, my Mom would always remind me that even though I may not be where I ultimately want to be, I still have the opportunity to bring joy to people through my work. She would often remark after a performance, “Look how happy you made people tonight, you should be proud of that.” My Dad still reminds me before every audition or performance to “have fun!” I also think having a strong support system is vital. I am so blessed to have a great support system, and at the end of the day, no matter what happens, I am surrounded by people who will always love and believe in me. My husband is a great rock for me!


As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Tara Henderson. A Jersey girl, born and bred, Tara is a New York City based actress and singer. She attended Montclair State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting, with a minor in musical theatre. During her time in college, Tara spent a summer abroad, studying at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, under the tutelage of Mark Rylance and Giles Block. Her first summer after college, Tara worked with the College Light Opera Company in Cape Cod. Afterwards, she went on to work with many reputable theatre companies, both regionally and in New York City, including Writers Theatre of NJ, The Women’s Theater Company, Centenary Stage Company, Bickford Theater, WorkShop Theater Company, Luna Stage, Shawnee Playhouse, Shakespeare In The Valley, Thirteenth Street Repertory Company, American Globe Theater, and Metropolitan Playhouse. Tara earned New York Innovative Theatre Award Nominations for her performances as Hero in “Much Ado About Nothing” with the American Bard Theatre Company and her performance as Tottering/Martha Cratchit in “A Christmas Carol: A New Musical” with the WorkShop Theater Company. Tara has had lead roles in several independent films, has done featured work on “Law & Order SVU” and filmed an episode of “Joker’s Wild”, appearing as Princess Catalina, which aired on truTV. She is currently starring as Medieval Times’ first ever female lead character, Queen Isabella, where she performs at their Lyndhurst, New Jersey castle.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Tara! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born and raised in New Jersey, just outside New York City. I am the only child of two amazing parents, Barbara and Bill Henderson, who from a young age helped cultivate my love of theatre and the arts. I come from a musical family and I began singing in the church choir with my Mom and Grandparents at the age of 5. Most of my childhood was spent performing, which included forcing my younger cousins to perform in shows at every family holiday and gathering, where I just happened to always be the star (sorry about that guys!)

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was 5 years old, my parents took me to see my first Broadway show, “A Chorus Line.” Although unbeknownst to my parents, it wasn’t the most appropriate show for a 5 year old, I fell in love! I can vividly remember leaning over to my Mom during the show and telling her “that’s what I am going to do when I grow up.” From that day on, I never looked back.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

My preparations to take on the role of Queen Isabella at Medieval Times were definitely some of the most unique rehearsal preparations I have ever taken on thus far. In the show, the Queen must ride a horse since her first entrance is a magnificent procession on horseback into the arena. I had only been on a horse once in my life, other than of course pony rides as a kid, so a large part of our rehearsal training involved horseback lessons with our horse trainer at the castle. It was a fun, but very challenging process. Learning to horseback ride was definitely not something I would have thought I would be learning to do in my acting career, but it’s a special skill that I am so grateful to have.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

While this happened more recently, it is definitely the funniest mistake I have ever made. During my second horseback training lesson at Medieval Times when I was in rehearsals for the role of Queen Isabella, I was trotting for the first time and still learning how to find my “seat” on the horse. The horse tripped suddenly and I fell off. It was a great learning experience in many ways because it is in fact true that you must immediately get back up on the horse. Our horse trainer impressed upon me that I must get back on the horse right away or my fear would get the better of me and I couldn’t let that happen.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I recently completed a production of “Disenchanted! The Musical” with the Women’s Theater Company in New Jersey where I played Sleeping Beauty. I have had some great performance opportunities through my role as Queen Isabella with Medieval Times, including singing the National Anthem for the Philadelphia Phillies and most recently we filmed with Jimmy Fallon for an upcoming segment of “The Tonight Show.”

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity in entertainment is such an important issue! The more people are able to see themselves positively represented in the entertainment world, the more it can help them feel accepted and happy about their own unique qualities they bring to the world. I also think diversity in entertainment helps us develop a better understanding of one another. The more we can understand and appreciate each other’s journeys, the more love and empathy we can show one another. Furthermore, I think diversity helps show individuals what is possible; by being able to relate to a character’s journey, people can help learn that they too can conquer whatever life may throw at them.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

There is no such thing as perfection, only doing your best work, which can rarely ever be perfect. I am a perfectionist and this is something I am still working very hard to master. I am better than I use to be, but as with most things, there is always room for growth.

Don’t focus on booking the job, focus on booking the room. In my younger years, I use to get hung up on getting a particular part that I would sometimes forget about the more important goal of just doing my best work and making a good impression. Even though you may not book this job, you never know what the person in the room may be casting next and you might be perfect for that. I literally had someone call me years after an audition to offer me a role!

Casting directors are on your side and are rooting for you to succeed. In this fast paced and highly competitive business, it can be easy at times to lose sight of that. The people in the room would love nothing more than for you to be the answer to their casting problems.

Celebrate your successes! This is a tough industry and you must always take time to recognize your hard work, achievements, growth and resilience!

Enjoy the journey! As hard as this profession is, you are blessed to be living your dream and many people in this world are not able to say that.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I feel it is always important to find joy in your work and be grateful for your opportunities. This helps me get through the most trying times. No matter what stage of my career, my Mom would always remind me that even though I may not be where I ultimately want to be, I still have the opportunity to bring joy to people through my work. She would often remark after a performance, “Look how happy you made people tonight, you should be proud of that.” My Dad still reminds me before every audition or performance to “have fun!” I also think having a strong support system is vital. I am so blessed to have a great support system, and at the end of the day, no matter what happens, I am surrounded by people who will always love and believe in me. My husband is a great rock for me!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My parents always impressed upon me the importance of being kind and generous towards others. It may sound simple, but my wish would be that I could inspire a movement of kindness. If we could be a kinder, more generous and accepting people, I think the world would be a better place. I think having more kindness could also open the door to help us develop a better understanding of one another so that we might learn we are more alike than perhaps we realize, and thus lead to a greater love and acceptance for one another.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am truly blessed to have the best family, friends and mentors that I could ever ask for. These extraordinary individuals have been there at every stage of my life, in both the good times and the bad, and I would not be where I am or the person I am today without them. While it is hard to choose just one person because I have been blessed with so many, I would say perhaps my greatest inspiration would also be my earliest teacher, my beautiful Mom. From the time I was young, my Mom raised me to believe that I could do anything I set my mind to, as long as I was willing to work hard for it. She helped me practice before every audition, helped me run lines for every show, and was always in the audience cheering me on at every performance. She was also there for me after every rejection, telling me its ok to cry about it, but you can only do that for a short time, then you must pick yourself up and move on to the next thing because you can’t get to Broadway by staying stuck in one place. She would always remind me that a rejection is never a failure as long as you learn from it and make yourself better for the next opportunity.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“To be good is not enough, when you dream of being great.” I came across this while searching for my senior quote in high school, it resonated with me then and has continued to motivate me through life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I have always admired Viola Davis’ work. She always hits a home run in everything she does! In the recent years especially, she has inspired me so much because she has overcome a lot to land the types of diverse roles she always knew she was right for. Despite being told no before, she never let that stop her pursuit, she achieved her goals and shined. Her resilience and work ethic inspire me immensely. Plus, I love how much joy she brings to her work!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

My website, www.tara-henderson.com is the platform I use for my professional updates. Personally, I also use Facebook and Instagram to help promote my work.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

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