The internet has come a long way and, as of today, we are most likely to find the talents that will take over any artistic industry there. Even though sometimes we find it hard to keep up with new creators coming out of there, there are a very few who we know immediately that will stay longer than the rest.
Tomás Taborda is one of those people we will definitely keep an eye on. Before coming to Lisbon to study acting, he was already catching the eye of some photographers and creatives because of his looks and bold fashion choices. However, it takes much more than that to get cast for the reboot of the most successful teen show of Portugal. Get to know him in first hand as we talk to him hours before the premiere of the series’s pilot.
When did you start having any sort of interest for acting? I realized that i wanted to be an actor at a very young age. I’d put on my own shows at family gatherings, specially at Christmas time. I think I just loved having an audience to perform for since I’d always choose those occasions to perform. In hindsight, I think they’d applaud me every single time just to please me since most of those performances were just impromptu. But thanks to the unconditional support of my family – that manifested since that time – I always felt secure to pursue my dream. I did music lessons, ballet lessons and I got into an amateur theatre group back in my hometown Coimbra. Later on I decided to get proper training on acting and decided to move to Lisbon to find that.
How important is to you to study at a college like ESTC (College of Theatre and Cinema)? Studying at ESTC has been crucial to both my professional and personal path. I am fully aware that I’ve been getting to know myself much better because of the way they teach at that school. You are taught that you need to know your personality and every inch of your body in order to perform at your highest level. That for me is just fascinating. Besides that I got in touch with lots of people who not only provided me all kinds of references related to this craft but also stimulate the students to original pieces. I find that very important as nowadays we have less opportunities and they provide us the tools to create our own. I believe that is crucial to someone who wants to be an actor to go to a school like this. You can be the most talented person in the world but if you don’t keep on learning and finding new ways of doing this you will just stagnate at some point.
What do you look for an actor when you watch a play or even when you are performing? What really moves me when I am performing is the fact that what I’m doing might lead the thoughts or feelings of whoever’s watching into new directions. Through that effect we can generate a new conversation, even if it’s an inner one. For me, the beauty of any sort of creation resides in the power of creating new dialogues and worlds that will eventually mess – in a positive or negative way – with who’s receiving it. Of course, as an actor, I find quite amusing to portray people who are different than me and to be a part of new make-believe worlds. It’s a constant challenge because most of the times we have to act on situations we have never been through.
Who do you professionally look up to? Nadine Labaki, who’s a lebanese director, actress and screenwriter. I watched her movie Capernaum and I found it breathtaking. Her work approaches social matters like poverty, inequality, children’s rights and more. I see what she does and how she does it so crucial during these times. As a fan of dance it’d be impossible to not mention Pina Bausch. She is a revolutionary figure as she combined performance with theatre and dance. She’s such an inspiring woman who became a reference across multiple generations. Lady Gaga is my earliest inspiration as a cousin of mine introduced me to her when I was only 5. I also love to sing so when I think of an artist who does it all I immediately think of her. Not only she sings and writes her own music but she also acts and stands for such great values. As for actresses, I love Florence Pugh because of how truthful her acting feels. I also love Isabel Abreu who blew me away in ‘Restos do Vento’ and Bárbara Branco who always delivers brilliant and truthful performances on stage, television and cinema. One person I’d also like to mention who has had a huge impact in my life is Álvaro Correia who was my first acting teacher and introduced me to so much new stuff.
How old were you when Morangos Com Açúcar premiered and do you have any idea of how impactful the show was back then? The first season aired in 2003 so I was a 1-year-old baby. I had no idea at that age of pretty much anything so I didn’t feel the impact of the show. However, by the time it was on its seventh season I became a fan of it and couldn’t miss a single episode. I think it was such a hit because it was the first teen show for a whole generation in Portugal and it was just light and enjoyable to watch. It was about first loves, music, surf, partying and all that simple stuff that every teen back then went through.
What has been the biggest challenge of being part of a highly anticipated project like this? Even though Morangos Com Açúcar ended around 2012 it was later on talked about quite oftenly so I had an idea of the impact it had even though I didn’t lived through it. So I was very happy when I got cast for this reboot. However, when we had our presentation videos posted on the series’s social media we got some negative feedback and I think the reason for that to have happened was the inevitable comparison to what this show once was and how it was done. Social media is a great tool and I make the best use I can out of it but most of the times people jump into conclusions and use their voice to spread negativity rather than – in this case – watch the show and then make a fair judgement. That was a bit harsh, I have to say, but it’s how people (re)act nowadays. I think it will take me some time to really know the best part of being part of this project but right now it just feels so overwhelming to contribute to a special series like this and to do it alongside a group of such talented young actors.
What has changed from the previous seasons to this one? I believe that everything is quite different. From the directing to the photography and the way we act. Times have changed from fifteen years ago and so have the subjects we now talk about. For me this is something unavoidable so I don’t see it as something bad. A show like this that’s now coming back to screen should really be updated to make justice to the times we are now living now and reflect our biggest concerns. The reality of these teenagers is much different from how it was fifteen years ago.
What can you say about your character – Harry – and, if you could choose, which other character would you like to play? He’s a boy with principles, who likes to show how free and colorful one can be through his way of being and his fashion choices. He doesn’t take well any prejudice from anyone and so he’s the first one to take a stand against any kind of injustice. However, ironically, he’s not like that when it comes to his relationship with his girlfriend Kika (Beatriz Frazão) who tames his freedom. If I would switch characters with anyone, I’d like to play Fred (Cláudio de Castro’s character) because he’s the comic relief of this drama. For me, that’s quite the responsibility because you have to find the very thin line between being comic and not being extra and I think Cláudio has perfectly found that special place.
When did your interest for fashion start? I always had that in me, I guess. I remember going shopping with my mom and help her picking out what to buy. I also remember watching a Victoria’s Secret show with a friend of mine and I absolutely loved it. Since that moment I started to have a deeper interest for fashion by following some shows, designers and specific models. It’s funny because now I have lots of people who trust my fashion eye… My family and friends usually call me to pick outfits for a specific event or just take me shopping with them. At the moment I don’t find myself having a specific style per se, I guess I just go with how I’m feeling at the moment. However I know I have a sort of guideline that is consistent and I consider it being my own. Through that I find it easier to express who I am.
From where do you take inspiration and who are your references? I just watch fashion shows when they happen so it’s pretty organic, I believe. I follow Harry Lambert, who’s Harry Styles’s stylist and Law Roach who’s Zendaya’s. For me, she’s always impeccable when it comes to her style at public events. Law’s work is so inspiring because you can tell he really knows her body and personality and goes the extra mile to put that in her style. And, of course, I have to mention my muse Bella Hadid. No matter where she is, in the streets or on a red carpet, she’s always stunning and just the best at what she does. Besides her modeling work I completely identify with what she does at her social media and how she uses her platform to bring awareness to certain themes. When it comes to designers I love Luis Carvalho’s work as well as Filipe Cerejo’s and Filipe Augusto’s. I also love Yves Saint Laurent, Loewe, Jacquemus and Versace.
How do you see Portugal regarding its fashion scene? I think we still have a long way to go when it comes to cherish and respect what an artist does. Unfortunately, there’s just a general lack of interest and support towards designers and other artists. I find that to be a shame because once you step into these industries in Portugal you find yourself surrounded by lots of talented people waiting for an opportunity to show their worth. My hope is that we can use these new tools we have talked before – such as social media platforms – to shed some light on them.
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