Tiana Stewart: Flowing Like a River

December 24, 2023

Photo Credit

Tiana Stewart


Valerie Lopez


Valerie Lopez


When talk­ing about HBO’s Love and Death’s mem­o­rable funer­al scene (no, not for the cry­ing baby part), with the beau­ti­ful and mov­ing soloist singing, one might think the audi­tion process would be com­pli­cat­ed, intense, heavy, and every­thing one might asso­ciate with audi­tion­ing for a part for an HBO show. Which gets us to the Christ­mas hol­i­day gift that keeps on giv­ing. Our guest Tiana Stu­art audi­tioned and land­ed the role of the soloist and tells of her expe­ri­ence in a way that makes you feel like you’re open­ing a Christ­mas gift, care­ful not to rip the tape, build­ing up the antic­i­pa­tion, until the reveal and real­iza­tion you got one of the most excit­ing gifts of your life.

I chose Stu­art as our Hol­i­day release because her ener­gy and pos­i­tive out­look on every­thing are just what the hol­i­days call for. We orig­i­nal­ly met dur­ing the 2023 Lysis­tra­ta Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val at Cold­Towne The­ater when she served as a co-pro­duc­er focused on per­former expe­ri­ences. She’ll serve in the role of Per­former Expe­ri­ence Man­ag­er in 2024

Just like old friends catch­ing up, Stu­art and I rem­i­nisced about ~checks notes…~ San Anto­nio, where Stu­art grew up and I spent time work­ing in the ear­ly 90s. While we love Austin, San Anto­nio doesn’t let things go as read­i­ly as our home­town. Stu­art shares a sto­ry of a neigh­bor­hood Mex­i­can restau­rant where a wait­er greet­ed her, her moth­er, and grand­moth­er with a kiss on the hand when she was grow­ing up. Upon a recent vis­it, the wait­er, still there, kissed Stuart’s hand as if she was an old fam­i­ly friend. For Stu­art, expe­ri­ences and your rela­tion­ship to those expe­ri­ences mat­ter almost as much as whether those expe­ri­ences build up your resume.

(I was) always performing even when I wasn't asked to.
Tiana Stuart

Stu­art remem­bers grow­ing up and always per­form­ing even when I wasn’t asked to”. Even­tu­al­ly, she was asked – she per­formed in musi­cal the­ater, and notably per­formed for San Antonio’s Net­work for Young Artists which taught young kids to sing and dance and held per­for­mances in Mar­ket Square, Sea World, and oth­er large-scale venues. 

Much like her moves to Fort Worth, Seat­tle, and Ams­ter­dam, Stu­art doesn’t often stay sta­tion­ary and her inter­ests also ebb and flow. She taught her­self to play the gui­tar, a skill she retains to this day. She is the lead singer for Hal­lo, a local band set to release its debut album in 2024

You may be won­der­ing when com­e­dy will come up, and your patience will soon be reward­ed, dear read­er. In 2018, Stu­art arrived in Ams­ter­dam with plen­ty of free time on her hands. She signed up with the Boom Chica­go improv school and spent a year learn­ing a new art form. When it was time to return to the U.S., she knew she want­ed to con­tin­ue learn­ing improv and received a rec­om­men­da­tion to look into Cold­Towne Theater. 

She com­plet­ed Lev­el 2 class­es, even­tu­al­ly evolved to teach­ing improv, and has also been rig­or­ous about act­ing. Dur­ing the course of a dra­mat­ic act­ing class, one astute teacher noticed that Stu­art seemed to have a gift for comedic act­ing. After grad­u­at­ing and land­ing a book­ing agent, Stu­art became known as the goof­ball on the ros­ter” at the book­ing agency. While the Love and Death role was far from comedic, you can expect to see her land­ing diverse roles to suit her many talents.

I can't sit still
Tiana Stuart

At this point, I feel like one of those late night infomer­cials pro­claim­ing But WAIT! There’s more!” If you haven’t fig­ured it out by now, Stu­art will con­firm for you that I can’t sit still!” After the act­ing, after the band, after the teach­ing, she: tack­led a direc­to­r­i­al debut of the award win­ning Twin­sies short film (which she wrote); assist­ed with Lysis­tra­ta Com­e­dy Fes­ti­val; and she recent­ly took a standup class taught by one of our favorites, Rochelle McConi­co where she got to per­form her very first standup com­e­dy set. You can dig into any one art at any one time, but to dab­ble in mul­ti­ple art forms at once? That’s a gift!

Toward the end of our con­ver­sa­tion, Stu­art com­pares the push and pull of var­i­ous art forms in her life to a riv­er – some­times one art form slows down, enabling anoth­er to pick up steam allow­ing her to stay cre­ative­ly active. Hail­ing from San Anto­nio, home of the River­walk, it’s not sur­pris­ing that Stu­art would find phi­los­o­phy in a riv­er. A river’s nat­ur­al func­tion is to flow toward anoth­er body of work. As with Stu­art, we know that she’ll find her­self flow­ing to anoth­er art form. We’ll be ready to watch where she leads us no mat­ter where she ends up.

Valerie ref­er­ences an Austin Chron­i­cle arti­cle about Cold­Towne The­ater as being released pri­or to this pod­cast episode release. The arti­cle will be avail­able in the first issue of 2024.

Fol­low Tiana 

Tiana can be seen and heard:

  • Improv per­former at Cold­Towne Theater
  • Teach­ing at Cold­Towne Theater
  • Twin­sies — short film direc­to­r­i­al debut with Fes­ti­val nods:
    • 25 nom­i­na­tions
    • 4 wins (Best Sup­port­ing Actress, Best Actress, Best Short Film — Women in Film, Best Short FilmO
  • Hal­lo — Album release in 2024
Support Comedy Wham

Follow @ComedyWham on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitch, and Tiktok

If you'd like to support our independent podcast, check out our Patreon page at: Patreon.com/comedywham . You can also support us on Venmo or Paypal - just search for ComedyWham.

Tiana Stewart