GIRL WONDER introduces you to global #GIRLBOSSES who are doing it young, and doing it well.
Today we're profilin' Tierney Finster, an LA native who writes and acts and wins awards for her mesmerizing collaborative video projects with Niko the Ikon (their latest project Wicked Games dropped on Monday and pretty much broke the internet).
Needless to say, Tierney has figured out a lot about life, love, and work in her tender twenty two years on earth. Read on to read her pearls of girl wonder wisdom.
Journalist / Actor / Videomaker
How did you get your start?
Last year, you won the Re Rebaudengo / 89plus Serpentine Grant, which is awarded to creative innovators born in 1989 or later. What's awesome about being a young artist now?
To be young is to have grown up with a set of life circumstances that a lot of older people won’t ever understand. There’s a power in being innately aware of what these differences are–especially as people so desperately try to define the “Millennial mind” in order to get their products to best reflect and shape our values. Most of this research takes itself very seriously, but lacks something. I think it’s funny to be young today. The best part of it is getting to fully enjoy the absurdity of what’s now while remaining super critical–figuring out ways to begin undoing a lot of the world we inherited.
I’m definitely young, but I try to talk to the actual youth as much as possible. I spend a lot of time with my cousin who was born in ‘98. Her ability to access information, feel virtually autonomous, and connect with friends 24/7 was honed at a way younger age than my own “digital native” experience. And when her and I quiz our 12-year old cousin (born ‘01) together about how he and his friends think, he always makes us gag in surprise. The 89+ time divider is valid and feels real to me, but these teen mirco-divisions are my real interest. I love that they think I’m old.
What was the inspiration behind the video that won the prize? Love
What's inspiring you now? I just attended the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex’s 50th anniversary conference, and I’m really inspired by a lot of the people I met there. Especially the neurobiologists studying intimacy. Other than that...the usual: my mom, the valley, love, power, pink sunsets, “bad” behaviors, old notebooks. And most especially, my friends.
Tell us about your creative collaboration with Niko The Ikon. How did you two meet? Why does it work? Niko and I met in middle school and have been friends ever since. We can do anything together because we’ve done everything together. Mostly we laugh and enjoy ourselves, which makes for a very pleasant working relationship.
What did you study? Are you glad that you did?
I treated college like humanities camp and only took things I liked, but I like a lot of things. My degree is in screenwriting. You for sure don’t need a degree in screenwriting to be a screenwriter. But being in a writer’s room for three years taught me how to listen to what people think of the way I express myself without talking back. This was good practice in vulnerability and working imperfection. I also took tons of English, film studies, and history classes. This was fun for me. My main motivation for going to school was wanting to spend time with stories that I might not have encountered otherwise. My family’s entirely non-academic (if brilliant in their own ways), and it mattered to me that I learned a lot of theory, took 5-person Shakespeare seminars, and watched movies I would have absolutely turned off at home. I’m passionate about school because I always found a lot of freedom in it, even if I didn’t always have school spirit.
So yes, I’m glad I went. But as an institution, college is gross. People can’t afford it, people at public schools can’t get into classes once they get into the school, and alumni can’t pay their loans back or get jobs. And colleges breed a culture of sexual violence that’s extremely damaging. So, no shame in just passing on the experience. It doesn’t fully make sense today.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned so far?
Ask questions!!!!! So many!!! But write down the answers so you don’t ever have to ask again. But if you forget to do that, still make sure to ask again. I spent a lot of childhood energy being a teacher’s pet, know-it-all. I really valued self-guided achievement even as a little person, elementary school freak. Even if that meant faking things until I figured them out myself. Not anymore. It’s so important not to fear anyone or anything, especially asking for help. I have way too many friends I love to work with and learn from to figure everything out on my own.
What advice would you give to girls who want your job?
Take what you love seriously and make it your profession. Live intentionally and work hard. Know that you absolutely cannot cheat the hustle. Look people in the eye.
What are you doing next?
Hmmm...I'm not too sure. Definitely delving deeper into movie and TV projects I'm developing.
What's the dream?
Effervescent business executive, movie director, and social justice advocate with a baby and a boo :)