Tiffany Boone was barely out of diapers when her father was brutally murdered in 1991.
Now 26 — and a breakout young star on THE FOLLOWING — Tiffany says that tragic loss ultimately “made me a stronger person.”
“I was never allowed to use it as an excuse for anything,” she tells me.
“I was never allowed to say ‘I don’t get to have this experience because my dad is not around.’ I always knew who he was. Everybody always told me about him. I still hold him dear to my heart and I think about him every single day.
Tiffany’s dad was 21 or 22 when he passed away, she remembers.
“He had a couple of businesses, a car wash… He was still trying to find himself as a man. So it is sad that he had to leave so early, but he definitely left a a large impression on me and everyone else he knew.”
“Even though it was a sad situation, it gave me strength in a way. And I feel like I am able to handle a lot of things that maybe I wouldn’t have been able to handle before because I have been handling loss and death from a very early age. Sometimes when I have a hard day or I get rejected for a role, it reminds me that I have been through a lot worse. A lot of times I just think about making him proud and him watching over me and knowing that he is smiling somewhere.”
Tiffany, who was raised by her single mom in Baltimore, graduated from CalArts four years ago and quickly began scooping up independent film roles and guest spots on SUBURGATORY, SOUTHLAND and GREY’S ANATOMY.
But it’s her portrayal of 15 year-old Mandy Lang on the THE FOLLOWING that has many calling her Hollywood’s new “It girl.”
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Here’s more of what Tiffany shared when we caught up with her on Friday:
You have done a lot of TV. What do you love about television?
Originally I was doing guest spots. So it was kind cool to be dropped into these worlds that are already developed. Like GREYS ANATOMY or SUBURGATORY and just be able to play for a couple of days. But I like television because it is really fast paced and the energy on set is really fast paced. I love every opportunity to be able to act.
When you are a young, hungry actor, does being dropped into the middle of shows like that inspire you to work even harder?
Whenever I am on a set I kind of want to pinch myself because it is hard to get a job in this business. I don’t have any intentions necessarily of being famous. I just want to be working. So when I get to be on shows that I am passionate about like GREYS, that I have been a fan of for years and years, it makes me think of how fortunate I am. I know so many actors who are insanely talented, and sometimes never get their chance.
Was there a big break? When did it all start to come together for you?
I don’t know. I never really thought of necessarily having a big break. It was basically about me really changing my own mind about auditioning and about what I have to offer. A lot of times, I think, actors go into audition rooms with a lot of desperation because we do need the opportunity. But when I started thinking of it more as just another opportunity to show my talent and another chance to meet people and play a character for a few minutes in an audition room, that changes everything and I started getting more call backs and booking more work. I made it more about having a good time and sharing my talent with someone rather than I need this job. I think people responded to that.
You don’t look old enough to be out of college! Do you like having the chance to play younger characters?
I do. I have been lucky enough to have some juicy cool roles. When it is a character like Mandy on THE FOLLOWING, even though she is 15, she has all these layers and is going through all of these mature, adult situations. I don’t mind playing the young characters as long as they are not just ditzy young girls.
Can you tease a little of what is coming up for her in the next couple of episodes?
Sure. I think what you are going to see after the aftermath of episode three when she makes the big decision to kill her mom in order to go with Joe, you are going to see her be kind of dropped into these worlds that are so different than her life. So coming up in the next couple of episodes, you see her kind of dealing with what it really means that she killed her mother because it was such an impulse decision. She has to kind of figure out “who are you and what are you going to do now that you have made this life changing decision?”
What do your think your life would be life without acting and the arts?
I think that the arts, really, have saved me. I don’t know what my life would be without it. I have a great family, but, you know, I was raised by a single mother and everyone knows that Baltimore is not the easiest place to grow up. I have seen a lot of kids who didn’t have the direction I had kind of fall to the wayside or not be able to see themselves outside of Baltimore. The arts let me know that there was always more than what I saw in front of my face. There was always a world I could escape to and a place I could belong. So I don’t know where I would be — but I know I would be a completely different person. And I may still be in Baltimore working a 9 to 5 job. And that is fine, but it is not what I want from my life.
Baltimore isn’t a terrible place to be…
It isn’t a terrible place to be. It just isn’t where I need to be.
Did you grow up in a tough part of town?
Not necessarily. I was in fine neighborhoods. My mother made sure of that. But I saw [those other] places and that is where my family is from, so I know both sides of the coin.
What does your mom do?
Now she works for Social Security. But she has worked in insurance and customer service. She has had two jobs at a time to be able to put me in classes. She is the most awesome woman I know.
Did seeing you mom struggle to make ends meet make you want to work harder.
Absolutely. I feel completely indebted to my mom. I know lots of people who have grown up in single parent households who don’t have the kind of relationship with their mothers that I do. She is my best friend. So she did everything she could to make sure I was fine and be supportive of my dream. She is the reason I do everything that I do. In a lot of ways, I am doing everything I am doing so I will be able to retire her and let her rest, because she has worked really hard for me and it is my turn to work really hard for her.
You came to Los Angeles eight years ago to star school. What was that like for you. Particularly being away from your mom?
It was actually. Now that I think about it, I am like, “How were you so brave about it?” I was so excited that I feel like now if I had to pick up and move by myself I would be a lot more nervous than I was back then. I was excited to be in nice weather. I was excited to start school and start this new part of my life. Luckily I did know a few people at Cal Arts which is where I went. So I wasn’t completely alone. Yeah, it was hard to say goodbye to my mom. Harder for her than me. [laughs] But I was lucky. I had great support and pretty good scholarships and I worked on campus. I was an RA [Resident Advisor] for as many years as I could in the dorms. So it was a lot of work, but it was a fun part of my life. I look back now and think “How were you so brave?” But I guess it is just innocence.
THE FOLLOWING airs Mondays at 9:00 PM ET/PT on Fox.
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