Sunday, February 1, 2015

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Tamara Branch, author of ITGIRL4LIFE

Tamara Branch is from New York, born and raised in the Bronx. She is thrilled to share her first book release, ITGIRL4LIFE, kicking off the ITGIRL4LIFE self-esteem movement to empower girls to stand up, stand out and shine bright in the world.

Tamara has worked as a professional model and actor for almost two decades. She strutted down the runway for designers Calvin Klein, Donna Karen and Christian Dior, acted in a few independent films, co-hosted PBS New York’s education series, “What’s up in Technology” and appeared T.V. commercials and print ads for Levi’s, Old Navy, Hershey’s, Colgate, Kellogg’s Special K, Revlon, Hanes, Nike and many others. A Penn State alumnus and lifelong student of personal development, Tamara is deeply passionate about uplifting the human spirit.

After graduating from Institute for Integrative Nutrition, studying under Deepak Chopra, Dr. Andrew Weil and some of the top health and wellness experts in the world, she was inspired to raise the bar on her own ‘self care’ and support others in living more vibrantly. She is an abstract artist and teaches a dynamic dance class, where she gets to fuse her varied background, having trained in everything from jazz, ballet and modern to Afro-Caribbean and Salsa.

Tamara was recently asked to become a Female Visionary Author guest blogger for The Brave Heart Women Global Community.  She's a SAG/AFTRA member since 1998, a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is represented by Abrams Artists Agency.

Tamara currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband of seven years and offers ITGIRL4LIFE workshops to assist girls on their self empowerment journey.
Her latest book is the YA/self-esteem book, ITGIRL4LIFE.

For More Information
About the Book:

Author: Tamara Branch
Publisher: Heart Project Publishing
Pages: 98
Genre: YA/Self-Esteem
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Writer, artist and speaker, Tamara Branch serves up 40 bite-sized chapters on how to build unshakable self-confidence, honor your life, and shine bright in the world, in ITGIRL4LIFE: How to bring out your special something and so much more. Packed with sage advice, life-changing insights and affirmations to help you soar, ITGIRL4LIFE offers ideas, tools and principles that you can reference and build upon, supporting you in becoming your best. Get ready to fall in love with your own wisdom, beauty and strength.

For More Information

Thanks for joining us at the club, Tamara!  Can we begin by having you tell us why you want to help teens with self-esteem?  Is it a passion?

Tamara: It is a passion of mine for sure. I am inspired to help teen girls because I was teen girls and I know how crazy we can be. Seriously, that’s the age when they are coming into their own as young women. Teens are exposed to everything these days, dealing with peer pressure, wanting to stand out yet fit in and on top of that, the media is bombarding you with fantastical, unrealistic images of ‘beauty’ and you’re trying to process it all. The teen years are a time of intense change and it’s empowering to have some real guiding principles to support you. I wish I had a book like ITGIRL4LIFE when I was a teen.

What would you say was the pivotal point in your life when you knew you could finally say you were ‘there’ with self-esteem?  Did the modeling and acting you have done help?

Tamara: You are never there there. We live in a culture of ‘not enough’. You have to make a conscious effort to keep yourself centered. Girls and women in media, advertising and entertainment are judged by everything but the content of their character. Body image issues abound, equality issues as well as everyday challenges, tough times, ups and downs. There’s a lot of good in the world but there’s also a lot of negativity. 

I wrote ITGIRL4LIFE so girls and young women would have a resource of power and a self-esteem boost at ther fingertips. I believe that you have to constantly renew your spirit. You have to celebrate who you are, protect your emotional state and do your best to come back to a positive perspective. Cultivating genuine self-love is the work of our lives. It’s ongoing. That said, I reached a healthier level of self-esteem when I became an adult. That’s when I understood how much I needed my foundation. That’s when I started to commit to my own personal and spiritual development at a higher level. Modeling and acting has been fun, freeing and overall a great ride. It’s something I wanted to do and any time to jump into an area of interest, you honor yourself. I became more confident, and poised in my presentation and performance as a model and actor. But there’s a lot of pressure to look a certain way and honestly that has been taxing. I was judged by how I look first and that early on chipped away at a piece of my self-esteem. I recognized that I started judging myself too harshly and I had to let that go. You always have to check in to see where you need to pour in some extra love. Personal growth only happens if you are aware of what’s going on with you.

Speaking of modeling and acting, my daughter was one of the shyest childs you’d ever want to meet.  I started her in dance school and pageants and I remember when she got older, her self-esteem had risen beyond belief.  She aced interviews and I know it was because of that training.  Do you think it was that or do you think girls grow out of their low self-esteem at some point?  What pointers can you give girls to raise their self-esteem?
Tamara: My Mom started my at Miss Dorothy’s Dance School in the Bronx at the age of 3. I’m a big believer in exposing young people to the arts. It has helped me tremendously and it gives you access to your own creative expression, which builds confidence, of course. I’m sure it played a part with your daughter and I’d give yourself some credit too for raising such a secure child. I don’t believe you outgrow low self-esteem. It’s takes action. You have to change the beliefs that are holding you back. Taking responsibility for your happiness is key. To move past insecurities you have to embrace empowering ideas and thoughts, and act in your best interest. It’s not easy because you have step up and deal with your stuff. That’s how you outgrow low self-esteem.

By the way, I am loving your book, ITGIRL4LIFE.  How did you come up with such an interesting title?
Tamara: Thank you so much. I wrote the book under the working title Foundation for Girls. I knew I wanted to share the foundational principles that I’ve come to rely on and that are universal. 

Your foundation is what keeps you standing. After writing most of the content, I came up with the real name. I was watching an entertainment news show and the reporter said, “the new it girl is…” blah blah blah. I had been brainstorming possible names already. When I heard this the light bulb went off. In Hollywood the IT girl has that special something. Only a few are believed to have IT and whoever it is wear’s a temporary crown. I wanted to flip that idea and create a new word, ITGIRL4LIFE. The definition came to me right away. “An ITGIRL4LIFE loves herself, is authentic, takes charge and makes a difference. She has IT. IT is the Greatness she was born with.” That is the core message of the book. Every girl has IT already and here is a guide on how to bring out your special something and so much more. That was the final piece I needed. I had the name! It said everything I wanted it to say.

Do you know if your book has helped anyone in particular so far?  What is the feedback you are getting from these young girls?

Tamara: Girls and women of all ages are emailing me with great feedback. One young lady, twenty one years old, said that she was feeling depressed and read the book and it reminded her that she has the power to change her attitude and create a better circumstance for herself. She wanted to go to college but was doing all the wrong things. Teen girls have shared that it helped them believe in themselves more and they felt the love in the pages. That means everything to me. Two older teen girls came out of domestic violence relationships and really needed to connect with their sense of self again and the book helped them do that. Women of all ages have told me that the foundational principles in the book inspired them and made them realize that they sometimes forget those simple things we can do to empower ourselves and make life better.
Can you spot a girl with self-esteem just by looking at her?  What signs would we as parents look out for?

Tamara: Most of the time you can tell. When you have high self-esteem energetically you are shining in a way that others can feel. Body language says a lot too. Healthy self-esteem comes from knowing who you are, sharing your gifts and talents, loving yourself and honoring your life.

Thanks again for coming, Tamara.  What would you like to say to your readers and fans?

Tamara: My pleasure. Thanks for the interview. 

I’ll just say to the readers and fans, thank you and keep shining your light!

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