Invicta veteran Taneisha Tennant has had some very tough battles in the cage and shown a high level of determination. That factor has led to her being scouted and subsequently recruited to be another member of the cast of Bruised, Halle Berry’s directorial debut.
We spoke to Taneisha to ask about her involvement in the project and her experience on set as a novice performer, and how the project aimed for realism.
Victor Rodriguez: Taneisha, thank you for joining us, for starters. Let us know right off the bat, how did this process start for you, how were you the person chosen to collaborate with this project?
Taneisha Tennant: Yeah, it was actually after my first Invicta fight. I got a call from Halle Berry but I wasn’t able to pick up the phone at the time, so when I called her back it went straight to voicemail. After that I went to Florida for vacation and a friend of mine from Renzo Gracie’s Academy in New York City where Halle Berry was training — I believe this is how Halle Berry first knew of me, from training. I believe it was Rob, his name is Rob — he’s a coach at Renzo Gracie’s — Halle Berry was looking for a particular type of look and fighter. And he gave her my name. From there I went back to New York and introduced myself, and that’s how it started. She told me what she wanted for the movie and the part I could be playing.
VR: Any reason she specifically chose you and how that happened?
TT: Apparently what she was explaining to me was that this particular part I was playing was kind of like a bad-ass girl who looked like she could kick somebody’s butt. I guess I have the look, like a tough girl look.
VR: So walk me through the extent of your involvement and what you were doing throughout the process, what that was like?
TT: The process was a few days later, let’s see... she had the limo pick me (from New York), I went up to the hotel, the next day I went to the shoot... I’m not sure how to call that.
VR: Yeah, the shoot. The set. Same thing.
TT: Yeah! The set. I went to the set. I got to see behind the stage, behind you know, get a behind the scenes look of the movie and all of that. Then I did my scene, Halle Berry was directing me, everything like that. It was cool! After that, stayed another night and a limo took me back home, to New York.
VR: Nice. From what you were able to see, what did you think about the attempt to make this as grounded or as close to reality as possible?
TT: It looked like they tried really hard to do that. Everybody she was wokring with, most of the people were actual fighters and they drew from inside experience from the fighters that were there. I think she did a really good job of incorporating real life MMA fighters into the movie.
VR: Did you have any fight scenes with her?
TT: Uh, maybe! I didn’t see the movie yet!
VR: Did you have any training sessions with her or anything like that or did she have her own separate thing going?
TT: No, I’m not sure if I can say it or not but, um, yeah. I was, I guess I fought her... maybe (Laughs)
TT: I’m not sure, I haven’t seen the movie!
VR: OK. That’s fine, that’s fine. I’m just asking about the process, not what happened on screen.
TT: I’m really just not sure how everything got put together, I should say. I just did my part and she was directing it, yeah.
VR: And had you done any sort of acting or choreography before?
TT: Not really, but my role was very much a role that I knew well, that was pretty cool.
VR: Yeah, but you seem like you had a lot of fun with it, am I correct?
TT: Oh, yeah it was fun! It was really different because it wasn’t like a real fight where you punch straight, there’s like a technique where you make it look a bit overexaggerated at times so it can look better for the camera. It was cool learning all those little details.
VR: Did you have any jitters or anything, or you just came in and iced it?
TT: Yeah no, I was good! Once I was in the cage, I was just fine. I just heard “Action“, and you know...
VR: It just clicked?
VR: Alright. So what did you feel from this walking away from the project? What were your feelings after the whole process was over?
TT: I just felt very blessed just to to be a part of it. It was the first time, obviously, she directed a movie. To be part of a mostly female cast was really, really cool. And to have the lens show female fighters which a lot of times get overlooked, I was just happy to be a part of it.
VR: Do you think this will lead to you participating in other projects in the future? Would you be open to that?
TT: Yeah, I hope so! I’m always down to any type of acting role or stuntwoman role, or whatever.
VR: Do you have any celebrity in mind that you’d love to punch in the face?
TT: Hmm. Can’t think of one off the top of my head, no (Laughs).
Halle Berry’s “Bruised” is currently streaming on Netflix.