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24 Sep 2017

Toronto

By Gracie Carroll

Q&A: Vanessa Matsui and Tiio Horn on Ghost BFF and Mental Health

By Ama Scriver

Ghost BFF interview Toronto Edit Seven 2018Ghost BFF interview Toronto Edit Seven 2018

Have you heard about the brand new series called, GHOST BFF? Created by and starring Vanessa Matsui (Shadowhunters) and co-starring Tiio Horn (Mohawk, The Man in the High Castle), the series premiered on March 1st over on the digital platform WhoHaha, which was launched by actress Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect, The Hunger Games) to profile hilarious women.

Produced and co-written by Katie Nolan, Ghost BFF is a dark-comedy that follows two inseparable, once-BFFs, Amy and Tara. One is alive and one is dead. The story takes the two across space, time and the suburbs as they struggle to find themselves and right the wrongs of the past. It explores themes of mental health, friendship and has a few laughs in there for extra measure.

We got to chat with the show’s two stars Vanessa Matsui and Tiio Horn about working on the show, what it means to have a BFF and why it was so important to them to keep the mental health conversation going.

E7: What was it that drew you to the Ghost BFF script?

Tiio Horn: I had been hearing about this project for a long time, and I knew whatever Vanessa was working so hard at for so long would be grounded, meaningful and of course funny. What drew me to it at first was that she made a comedy out of something so dark and complicated like suicide. The role of Tara kind of felt like a no-brainer to audition for. In the past, I’ve played poltergeists, vampires, witches, so a ghost seemed like a natural progression.

There is an epidemic of suicide in this country especially among Indigenous youth and as an Indigenous woman, I felt a responsibility to those young people. I hope this story reaches them in some way and inspires them and gives them courage to speak out and seek the help they might need. We all need help and a huge part of mental health stigma is simply admitting that and emphasizing that it is okay. 

E7: What were some of your favourite moments during filming?

Vanessa Matsui: When I was directing episode five, there was a moment where Tiio and I just really got into a groove with the text and just started to dance. It was hilarious and fulfilling and magical. 

There was also this moment I had with Katie (writer and producer) and we had been working on this project for two years at this point, and we were on our last day of shooting, and Trump had just been elected the night before, and things in the world just seemed really crazy and unfair, but we also knew that our job as female creators was more important than ever. We shared a really proud moment about what we had just accomplished.

Ghost BFF interview Toronto Edit Seven 2018

E7: The show tackles some fairly serious topics surrounding mental health: why do you think it’s important to keep having these conversations?

Tiio Horn: We all have our issues, whether its trauma, or a chemical imbalance or not having the tools to deal with what life throws at you. None of us have any clue what those around us are constantly dealing with
internally on a day-to-day basis. We need to stop passing judgement on others. We need to normalize the fact that we are all dealing with things and it’s simply a part of life. What’s important is that we are making sure we are compassionate and that we keep reminding those people who have seemingly given up all hope that there is help out there. 

E7: The series is accompanied by 12 two-minute video segments titled ‘Let’s Talk About our Feels’ to help better address the topics discussed in the series – what do you think this will add to the conversation that the series can’t?

Vanessa Matsui: Let’s Talk About Our Feels’ offers some practical tools to help introduce people to mindfulness practice. Mindfulness practice is an evidence based, cost effective way that can help people cope with anxiety and depression. Our partners at The Centre For Mindfulness Studies collaborated with Katie with the research and writing of the short segments and we are very grateful to them! 

E7: Who is your BFF in real life and what is a fun moment that you have shared that is super memorable?

Tiio Horn: I am lucky enough to call my cousin, Wentahawi my BFF. We grew up together like sisters and have remained close ever since. Our friendship and bond gets stronger, as we get older and that is something really special. One moment that I’ll never forget is when we sat on the couch together the other weekend and just had a good, hard cry together and held each other tight, reminding each other how fucking awesome we are. It reminded me how much we truly loved one another. 

E7: Why do you think female friendship is more important than ever?

Vanessa Matsui: My best female friends understand me better than my husband does at times! Some of my female friends have known me for my entire life and I can be completely myself with them. They are there for me when things are tough and ugly.  And they are some of the most creative and supportive people I know. I’m not sure that it is more important than ever, I think it has always been important! 

E7: For people struggling to practice positive self-love, what advice do you have for them?

Tiio Horn: We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. Start seeing the small victories accomplished every day and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the big picture. 

Vanessa Matsui: You don’t have to be perfect! I think there is so much pressure on women to be so perfect and that can really be a bummer, cause y’know, women are just human, full of flaws and that’s okay. Try not to be so hard on yourself. 

To watch the latest episodes of Ghost BFF please click HERE!

xo

@EDITSEVEN

(Story by Contributing Editor, Ama Scriver)

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