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Zo-Mari Tanker A Ray of Caribbean Sunshine
Even before we met face to face, I felt her energy and enthusiasm in the warmth and brightness of her voice while arranging our interview on the phone.
Soon after arriving at the coffee house the next day, the doors opened and in bounced Zo-Mari Tanker, bringing with her all the sunshine of the early morning. It radiated in her bright smile, sparkling disposition and openness to sharing with me details of herself and her life.
Zo-Mari, I soon discovered, is a wonderful fusion of her genetic inheritance. Throughout our conversation, brief flashes of the individuals who had contributed to her bloodline sparked in and out: the creative brilliance of her father André Tanker; the lively verve of her mother Christine; the sporting passion of her Olympian grandfather McDonald Bailey; and the artistic vision of her great-great-great grandfather Michel-Jean Cazabon. There’s a little piece of each of them all shining in Zo-Mari.
A Senior Producer for the past five years at Government Information Services Limited (GISL), Zo-Mari confessed that although a career in theatre and acting had been her childhood dream, she thoroughly enjoyed her current job. “I love production. I’ve been doing it since 1999 when I started in advertising. I blossomed into a career into TV, radio and print production, which eventually led to my current job. Working at GISL is different but challenging. We’re trying to modernize productions to give them a more contemporary, energetic, cutting edge look and feel – changing the music, the graphics, the animation, and the way we do the videography. I still very much enjoy that.”
Despite her busy schedule, Zo-Mari has still found the time for the stage. “I love theatre. I’ve acted in quite a few plays locally and performed with professionals at the Redgrave Theatre in Farnum, Surrey when I was at Coombe Girls’ School in England.” She is also grateful that as a young teen attending Queen’s Hall Theatre Camp, the late John Isaacs took her under his wing, introduced her to the local acting community and offered her a part in his 1992 production of Godfrey Sealy’s defining play, “One of Our Sons Is Missing.”
Her acting credits have since included roles in The Bagasse Company’s “The Murder Room”, the MerMade Shoppe’s “The Lady in Question” (in which she played a child murderer), and Raymond Choo Kong’s “Don’t Dress For Dinner”, “Some Like It Hot” and “Red Hot Lovers”. More recently, she performed in Fareid Carvalho’s 2009 production of “The Wizard of Oz” and the comedy, “Sex, Lies and the B.I.R.”
“I’ve played roles very different to who I am,” she admitted. “Whether it’s serious or comedy, characters have many layers so when you come off stage, you have to ‘come down’ from whatever energy drives you in that role and go back to your real self.”
The ‘real self’ Zo-Mari mentioned is a young professional, wife and mother, confident in her own skin yet supremely mindful of the good fortune of being the only child of music legend, André Tanker. “It’s a privilege and honour to be my father’s daughter,” she said with all the reverence and love of a daughter who still very much misses the father she lost 10 years ago.
The seriousness of the moment dissipated when she effusively added, “I have no problem when people say, ‘Oh, you’re Andre’s daughter.’ I love it, I love it! I’m so proud of him and all he accomplished professionally. On a personal level, I remember all the profound things he taught me and told me that have helped me during the good and the bad.”
She then admitted, “I still look to my father for guidance, wherever and in whatever form it may come. It could be through somebody else or through a sign.” For her, one of those signs has come in the form of butterflies, mentioning that on the day he died, three butterflies flew into her room and stayed the whole night and that on another occasion while in church, a blue Emperor butterfly fluttered in and down to where she and her family were seated.
Another of his signs was more recent, when she instinctively felt the need to record one of her father’s lesser known songs, “Iso Kaiso”. “For some reason that song just spoke to me,” she explained. “I always thought the words were lovely, speaking about Carnival and the music as though it were a woman: ‘How she sweet like that. Yes, she sweet. Why I love it so?’”
She followed her heart, and recently recorded and released an updated version her dad’s song under the name, “Limbo”, hoping that the single will be not only be well received for Carnival 2013 but that, like her father’s compositions, the song will have the far reaching impact and longevity of Tanker’s music and creative legacy.
It is a legacy she sees in her two sons, Jacob André and Michael André. “I love my boys. I love the fact that I see the creative gene in both of them.” She beamed with pride when she spoke of Jacob blossoming into an accomplished Blues guitarist and of young Michael’s flair for drama. “I really feel blessed to have had so many amazing people in my life who have supported me and I try to be a support for them. I believe we all radiate our own energy. Whatever kind act we do – even if it’s just a smile – I hope we can make a difference. I think that’s important.”
It is important… and it is highly probable that with her positive and passionate approach to life, Zo-Mari Tanker will shine brightly, drawing from the past and her present to create her very own future Caribbean legacy.
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