Momona Tamada Is Working to Break the Stigma Around Mental Health

Carolyn Twersky
·3 min read
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

From Seventeen

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

Momona Tamada, 14, knows what it's like to not see a role model for yourself on screen. That's why getting cast in the Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix was such an incredible opportunity. "Playing Claudia [Kishi] means the world to me," she told Seventeen. "A character like her also encourages me to fight for the topics I think are important." For Momona, those topics include representation on screen and mental health awareness, which she recognizes is more crucial now than ever because of the stressful environment of the coronavirus pandemic. That's why Momona is using her newfound platform brought on by her role in BSC to speak out about these issues and influence other young people to do the same. "Young adults and kids really do have the power to make a change," she said. "So, if you want to see a change in something, voice your opinion."

How did you initially get involved in activism?

I think acting has really influenced my passion for activism, as has working with so many powerful, inspiring teens my age. Given this platform, I think it’s important I show others my thoughts and opinions, as well as why our voices are important.

What issues are important to you and why?

Representation on screen is something I’m passionate about and want to influence in the film industry. I feel it's crucial because often, seeing is believing and it’s unfair that only some people can see their stories and lives represented on screen. Creating representation also brings hope to others and makes them feel like they belong. Although we are slowly making a change in this, the film industry has a long way to go. Another thing I advocate for is mental health. Especially in hard times like these, it’s more important than ever to look out for your friends, families, and loved ones.

Photo credit: courtney chavez
Photo credit: courtney chavez

Why is it important for you to use your voice to speak out on these issues?

I think it’s important for me to speak up about these things because, first of all, I know what it feels like to not see a role model for myself on screen, or not see someone that looks like myself on screen. It’s hard to feel like you're alone and I don’t want anyone out there to feel like that. It’s also important for me to speak up about mental health because, again, this is something I can connect to. I developed minor anxiety from just working too hard without taking a break. It helped me to learn that although it is important to work hard, it’s equally as important to take time for yourself and put yourself first. Even though I only experienced mild forms of anxiety, I can’t imagine what others are going through at this time. This is something I want to bring into the conversation to help alleviate the stigma of talking about challenges with mental health.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

What has been your biggest victory so far?

Of course I don’t know what the future holds, but I'm proud of where I am right now. Being given opportunities and platforms like this to use my voice, and portraying such amazing roles that can influence others in a positive way, especially young viewers, is just a dream.

Answers have been edited and shortened for clarity.

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