WOMEN OF NOTE:
Tessa de Josselin | Actress & Environmental Activist
For Tessa de Josselin, all paths lead back to the sea. Having long graced screens around the country and beyond, the Australian actress has turned her focus to environmental activism and research—with a particular interest in seaweed. Alongside her studies she also produces a podcast, The Nature Between Us, which delves beneath the surface to demystify environmental issues and offer up solutions orientated conversations with people working towards a genuinely sustainable future.
From her Sydney-based home nestled by the ocean, wearing The 03 Set in Tabacco, Tessa shares more about what drives her curiosity and everyday rituals.
Time: 8:40 am
Where are you from and where are you now?
My parents are French, but I grew up on beautiful Garigal land, Narrabeen, and am currently living in Maroubra on Bidjigal/Gadigal land.
Are you a morning or evening person?
Definitely morning. That’s when I’m feeling most energized and inspired. I’m a surfer, so often I’m excited for the pre-dawn mission, early swim, or any sort of 5am adventure really. That being said, this winter I’ve become partial to a snooze in/coffee in bed, so I guess it fluctuates...or I’m getting old.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Well, mid-wake up I’m usually comprehending the dream I’m coming out of. Lots of weird and wild dreams for me! Once I’m up though it’s a cup of earl gray or a little percolator coffee, depending on the day ahead.
Can you describe where you live and the view from your bedroom?
I live in Maroubra, on Bidjigal/Gadigal land, very close to the beach. It’s beautiful, calm and usually smells salty and fresh. The name Maroubra comes from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘like thunder’, which was used to describe the sound of waves breaking on the shore. My bedroom looks out over a green, tree filled reserve that is also used as a local dog park frequented by many a-cute-pooch—which of course is excellent.
Many people would know you first as an actor. When did you first realise you wanted to pursue acting?
Growing up I was a very animated, talkative kid, and so I think I naturally gravitated towards performance/drama. Other than sport it was the perfect place to direct all my energy! I think my parents picked up on it too and got me into local theater and eisteddfods etc. Even as a kid I remember the excitement of performing so much. I had this Witch poem I’d always recite haha. But then around the end of high school it kind of drifted away and it wasn’t until after I’d gone to uni (to study something completely unrelated - geosciences) and was working full time that I found the independence and confidence to pursue it as a career. I think I just thought, I love acting, I see other people doing it, why not give it a try and see if it could work out for me too.
What is it like to completely immerse yourself in the world of a character?
New, exciting, and ultimately very freeing! Once you’ve done the work, the preparation, mined your scripts and understood the journey and the reasons for every choice, to actually then go on a journey immersed as someone else is pretty neat. Acting can really teach you a lot, and I always walk away from a role with a new perspective.
The environment has increasingly become a more central focus of yours. As a voice artist, the irony shouldn’t be lost on your ability to communicate meaningfully and passionately in everything that you do. What was the catalyst for you personally to pursue environmental studies and activism?
Thank you! And yes it really has grown to be a huge part of my life now. I think initially what catalyzed me to study geosciences as an undergraduate was my love of the ocean and interest in geography and natural places. I was young and purely just following what I was curious/cared about. But 10 years on I’m now back at uni finishing my environmental master’s degree and that was definitely a more considered and direct decision as a result of the climate crisis. In 2018 I was overwhelmed with the feeling that there was more I could do/learn/understand and ultimately communicate, and I guess my activism flowed from that fire.
You recently launched the second season of your podcast, The Nature Between Us. How did the podcast first come about?
I did, and I’m so excited to be sharing a fresh batch of conversations! The pod first came about mid our first lockdown in 2020. I was home (like everyone else) studying my masters, having these really interesting conversations in my tutorials and realized how much they lifted my anxiety around the climate crisis and environmental issues in general. For me, it was hope giving and I figured maybe that could translate for others as well. I’d never made a podcast before though—so Season 1 was a steep learning curve, ha! Happy to be back in 2022 with a second season and so grateful for everyone who has tuned in and connected with me and the guests along the way.
Has there been a conversation with a guest that has been particularly memorable? If so, what was it that they shared with you?
Offft such a hard question. I’ve learnt so much from every guest. There has been some huge jaw-dropping moments though and one that comes to mind is when Tishiko King (S2,Ep2) was recounting her experience at COP26 last year, and mentioned that the biggest delegation in attendance were fossil fuel lobbyists....at a UN climate change convention!! I was shook. But on a positive note, she followed up by saying the Indigenous delegation was the second largest in attendance and it was the first year there was an Indigenous caucus. Which is amazing! And just made me think, wow I’m so grateful for those who are continually showing up in these kinds of spaces to make sure there is representation and a voice for the environment.
What are three things each of us can do in our everyday lives to best serve the planet?
1. Divest from banks/super funds that invest in the fossil fuel industry. In terms of climate action, this one gives huge bang for your buck.
3. Get out in nature! Go for a walk in a national park and listen to the bird calls, or dive in for a snorkel at your local beach/bay and watch the fish. Enjoying and connecting with the environment is such a big part of reminding yourself why we should protect it.
As an avid outdoors person, where are your favourite places to escape the city?
If I’m home, the Malabar headland walk is a go-to favourite. Otherwise, the Royal NP is great for day trips, as is Ku Ring Gai NP. If I have more time on my hands I’m heading out to the Blue Mountains or the South Coast. We are so lucky in Australia to be surrounded by incredible landscapes and environments. I’m in a v cute hiking group with some good friends, and we’re always planning our next multi-day escape. Sometimes even just talking about the escape is enough to get you through the week!
During your down time at home, what do you like to do?
Make tea, watch films, bake, mend things, read (very slowly).
What are you currently watching, reading and listening to?
Watching: The Twelve.
Before you go to bed, how do you unwind?
Hot shower and a couple pages of a book.
What do you dream of while you sleep?
Everything, everywhere, all at once.