We can’t wait to hear from one of Australia’s funniest women at 9 to Thrive in Sydney next week. Tanya Hennessy will be speaking on our Swipe Up panel along with Sophie Cachia, Emmylou MacCarthy and Talitha Cummins. Sarah caught up with her in the lead up to 9 to Thrive to find out how she went from Luna Park to national radio
I used to be a stilt walker and clown at Luna Park.
I did a theatre degree, and then I worked at Luna Park, I did pantomimes and toured a cabaret. I used to work on a kids’ TV show, and I dressed actors on Mary Poppins. I’ve never had a normal person job, but in this industry, I’ve done a bit of everything! I think you have to, so you know how the whole thing works.
The makeup tutorial I did has been viewed, all up, 250 million times.
It’s just not possible to wrap my head around that! I constantly think, WTF?! When I was making it I knew it could be good, and I didn’t want to fuck it up, which is why it took me months to actually do it. I uploaded it really quickly, late at night, thinking it would just quietly ease out into the world, but it exploded. I have no idea why it struck such a chord, or what my appeal is!
I heard Ellen do an interview with Seinfeld and he asked her, ‘What’s your appeal?’ She said, ‘I don’t know’, and I thought I’m exactly the same! I mean obviously, I’m not in the same league as Ellen, but it made me feel better that she was as clueless as I am, you know?
I have the biggest imposter syndrome.
I understand how people could perceive or might think that my life is great, but I am always cautious. I wonder, ‘When’s it all going to go away?’ The industry is fickle and you’re ruled by your platform. Facebook, YouTube, where ever you place your content, you’re bound by their rules. For me, this means you can never just rest on your success.
I struggle because I don’t feel like l’m deserving, so I spend a lot of time in therapy!
Finding success feels strange, because you still hustle. You still work. The passion is still there. I’m always second-guessing myself, but I have to suck it up and accept that this is real; the more I think about it the more I let it get into my head, so I have to just do it.
My relationship with social media is love hate, for sure.
On the one hand, it’s given me everything, literally, so I’m very thankful for the internet. But the thing about social media is, I don’t think anyone can create content that is actually truly [representative of] their life. No one wants to see you writing in your PJs at 2am, or hustling at a comedy course, or going to drama school. No-one wants to consume content that is really draining and exhausting and boring. The truth is I just want to make to really funny stuff; what I do is comedy, because I really want to contribute fun and light to the world.
Money is not my driver; I love being creative and I just hope I get paid at the other end!
I could live in a shoebox, as long as I keep getting to create. I really care about what I make and I’m hard on myself, so I’ll look back and think it’s not good enough, I should have done this, how can I make this better, how could that be funnier.
You can have results, or excuses, but you can’t have both.
People say, “Oh, I want this, but it will never happen.” And I say back to them, “Well with that attitude, no it won’t.” The only person who can change your situation is you. When I decided that I wanted to work in this industry, that I really wanted to create great stuff, I realised that the only one who can control this is me. I had to take the control and make it work. Of course it’s hard, I’ve worked my ass off, every day I have to write, I have to work, I have to get contacts, I have to get better – it just doesn’t happen. You make sacrifices and you miss birthdays and christenings and parties and friends. But it’s really empowering and also scary when you work out that you are in control of your own destiny.
Facebook recently flew me to Los Angeles for 10 days, to go to a content creators conference.
They gave me cameras to make better Facebook content, I met international content creators and I was the only Australian over there. That was really cool. Just to be in LA, as a creative person – I don’t think I’ll ever really get over it. While I was there, I had the chance to pitch TV shows. I did it last year as well, and it’s absolutely the weirdest thing, to be sitting in a room and to see the Hollywood sign out the window, like, is this really my life?! It’s surreal.
No one knows what they’re doing.
There’s solace in this. In Emma Isaacs‘ book Winging It, she tells us all to say yes and then figure it out. That is literally me! I think, no one knows, no one has it all figured out. So I’ll just give it a crack. And then you do, and it’s fine! And of course that’s when I think, okay, when will this all end…
Tanya will be joining us at 9 to Thrive in Sydney next week! Grab your 9 to Thrive tickets here.