A native of Philadelphia, Tiffany Baldwin has been performing for most of her life. As a teen, she worked professionally as a singer and actress in New York, and at the age of 17, she moved to Los Angeles to study psychology at UCLA and pursue her Hollywood dreams. In 2005, she appeared in I-See-You.com, also starring Beau Bridges and Rosanna Arquette, and followed that up with a role in The Sinners in 2010. In 2013, she played the character of Marti on The Young & The Restless.
Music, however, has always been Baldwin’s first love. A gifted guitarist and pianist, she has toured North America with numerous bands and has appeared as a backup vocalist on several records.
I come from a very musical family; my mom was a musical theater actress and on my dad’s side, my grandma and aunts were vocalists, pianists, and music teachers. My aunt taught me to play piano and I also took dance, gymnastics, cheerleading and acting classes, but singing was my first love. My mom actually has a cassette tape recording of me when I was 2 years old singing what sounds like to be a bunch of gibberish, but there was definitely a melody in there! My first professional production was when I was 4 with my mom in Camelot, I played a child nymph. Pretty sure there was no turning back after that. I’m actually a bit of a shy person, so I think as a kid a way for me to really express myself was through performing and pretending to be someone else or something that maybe I wasn’t. When I was on stage I had no fear.
Who are your biggest creative influences?
Oh, wow. There are so many. And so diverse. Musically they range from Linda Perry, Brian McKnight, Joni Mitchell, Mariah Carey, Stevie Nicks, Don Henley, Alicia Keys, to Sheryl Crow. As far as acting goes, I’d have to say Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange, Kate Beckinsale, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts and Julianne Moore. There are so many more, but those are the people I definitely connect with and identify with consistently, and with whom I am inspired by, all for very different reasons.
Your first big screen acting role was in the sci-fi classic 12 Monkeys. What was the most memorable aspect of that experience?
Well, I don’t know if this is really considered a memorable aspect of the experience, but it is kind of funny. Since I was under the age of 18 at the time, my mom was required to be with me on set. So, instead of just hanging around, she decided to be an extra. During the airport scene, when she was on a break, somehow she ended up sitting in Bruce Willis’s chair and he had to politely ask her to get up. He was very nice about it, but my mom was mortified, but also kind of excited that he had talked to her. It was all pretty comical.
What is your songwriting process?
Honestly, it depends. Usually I just start messing around on the guitar or piano, I come up with a melody and then I write the lyrics. Sometimes I hear a melody in my head, come up with lyrics and then figure it out on the guitar or piano, but not often. I’m definitely not one of those people that writes lyrics first and then creates the melody around that. I’ve tried that a few times and it never turns out very well. And then sometimes I’m given tracks by producers and I come up with the melody line and lyrics off of that. Whichever way it happens it’s always the best when it’s coming from raw emotion. It’s really hard when you write just to produce, like when you force yourself and you’re not really feeling it. Although that’s part of being a successful songwriter, my best songs have come out of the immediate need to get my feelings out in song form, not from a forced, formulaic space.
Musically and/or creatively, how have you evolved over the years?
I feel like because I know myself better than when I was say, 21, there is a lot more depth in everything I do. As we go through life we face challenges, tragedies, heartbreak, life ultimately gets harder. But, if you embrace these things, they can also create character, depth, and authenticity. I feel like my sense of self is stronger, my insight into relationships, myself, other people, the world, is deeper, and my ability to feel my feelings and express them is at a much higher level. I feel like that comes out way more now in my music and my acting than when I was younger. There is more vulnerability and rawness when I create and perform. It’s not just about playing a part and entertaining anymore. It’s about being honest with who I am, the good and the bad, sharing that with people, and truly connecting with them.
What goes through your mind in the moments before you go out on stage?
“God, please don’t let me f#*$ this up.” I’m serious. I always get so nervous that I’m gonna just forget. Everything. I never do, but freezing on stage and forgetting everything is always one of my biggest fears. I have the word “faith” tattooed on my wrist, so I usually look at that, kiss the cross I wear around my neck, and pray.
What’s the best song you’ve heard recently?
There are a bunch of songs I am currently obsessed with, but the one I can’t get out of my head and play on repeat is “Tee Shirt” by Birdy. Super sappy, simple, but clever love song. I’m a sucker.
How did your appearance on Millionaire Matchmaker come about? Was that an enjoyable experience overall?
I swear people recognize me more from that than anything else I’ve done. It was… interesting. Somehow the casting director had gotten my information from another casting director and was calling me for months to come on the show. I was on and off again with a boyfriend at the time and she seemed to always call when we were “on”. But, then finally she called and we had just broken up, so I agreed to do it under certain terms. Let’s put it this way, I treated it as an acting job rather than an opportunity to date a “millionaire”. If I had actually met someone I was truly interested in, that would have been an added bonus, but I had seen the show before and I was pretty certain that wouldn’t be the case. The guy I went on my date with was not the guy for me, but he was nice despite how the show portrayed him. I can’t lie, I was kind of bummed my “date” consisted of working out at a gym. I mean I had seen other episodes where the girls got flown to Napa for the day and things like that, so I was kind of like, “Really? A gym? That’s lame.” But I did meet some really great girls at the mixer, so that was a plus. Overall, it was a fine experience. Not terrible, not great, just fine. Probably not one I would ever do again.
What do you like most about living and working in Los Angeles?
I love the energy. I love how everywhere you go, there’s some kind of passion. Whether it be music, acting, art, food, or fashion, there’s always an artistic energy flowing in the city. People aren’t afraid to express themselves, to be whoever and whatever they feel they want and need to be. And pretty much everyone is hustling in unconventional ways, just trying to pursue their dreams. It’s really beautiful, liberating, and inspiring. And what’s different about LA versus other cities, is it’s done in kind of a laid back way. I attribute that to the beauty that is California. You have the beach and the mountains within 30 minutes of one another. And the weather. You really can’t beat it. I think it just makes people happy and chill.
If you could offer one piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?
In terms of the industry, well, that depends on the day. Ha ha. No, I mean, this industry is HARD. I have been in it professionally almost my whole life and even at 18, I was aware it was difficult, but I don’t think I grasped how challenging it truly would always be. I also think it’s gotten even harder in the past 10 years or so; the entertainment industry is really, really different now. I would probably say to my 18-year old self, “Do what you love to do because you LOVE it. Not because you are hoping to make a lot of money or even a consistent living from it. And also not for any other external validation like fame or success. Do it because you can’t NOT do it. But, don’t place all of your self-worth, value, and identity on whether you succeed at it or not. It is such a subjective business, gaining material success at this point is like winning the lottery. So, love what you do, love yourself, always do your best, live with integrity, and f*#& everything else.” That’s what I would say.
What are you working on next?
I lost my father this summer and after taking a couple month hiatus, I have a lot of things to process. I know part of my journey is to express it through my writing and my voice, so I am currently working on writing new material with a couple of other artists, as well as on my own. I’m also setting up shows in LA for the fall/winter. As far as acting goes, I’m shooting a project for television in the coming weeks and have a couple commercials that should be airing soon. My philosophy is to just keep the energy moving forward and always look for opportunities to be creative. That, in itself, is extremely healing and cathartic.