With the celebrity status sans the ego, green-eyed beauty Tessa James is mature beyond her years. The Australian darling first graced our screens on beach side soap Home and Away, but fast forward some five years and she’s now one strong, resilient woman taking back her career one return flight to LA at a time. Tessa recently bounced backed from diagnosis with Hodgkin Lymphoma and now, in remission, is a walking advocate for a healthy, wholesome lifestyle. If her current health clearance isn’t proof in the (chia) pudding, her radiance is.
Tessa now divides her time between Los Angeles (where she recently finished shooting an Independent film, ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’) and Sydney’s North Shore with NRL professional footballer husband, Nate Myles and dogs Snoopy and Biggie. Tessa arrived at our shoot with the signature style we’re growing to love her for (she has an eye for designer digs), and unafraid to spill her secrets or shy from sensitive issues. As brave as she is beautiful, Tessa opens up about her healthy outlook on life, a love of natural beauty, and some insider tips for a perfectly styled crop...
"When I had cancer, I never thought for a minute that I wouldn’t be fine.
Some days I certainly didn’t feel that way, but I never told myself otherwise. I mean, it was hard, really hard. It’s extremely traumatic and life-changing for anyone. In the beginning it's like, “What is happening? This is not meant to happen. I feel like I've just got my ball rolling. What's going on?” But then I just kind of gave into it, really, because what was I going to do? That's what I'd been dealt and I had to deal with it and embrace it almost, [as well as] push through it. I guess I was lucky with the type [of cancer] that I got.
I prioritise being happy, enjoying things and feeling good about myself.
I think I'm very content now, which I think initially I was confusing with not being driven. But I’ve worked out that I just want to be happy, and now I’m not so panicky. I know I work hard and things will happen, that I have time. I’m not in such a rush anymore. I’ve been stuck [in the past] where I couldn’t do anything or go anywhere – but [now] I know that things will happen the way they are meant to.
I had an amazing support system.
My Dad had gone through [his own cancer diagnosis], which was good in a way; having someone to talk to you about things that no one else understands. It's just literally one of those things that if you haven't been through you just don't know. Even now,more so, it's really wonderful having that because there are things I find I go through after [recovery], and it's really nice to talk to somebody that's maybe feeling something similar.
I think I'm more into skincare than makeup…
... and I’m pretty minimal and natural. I don't wear a lot of makeup, I never have. I think it's just from my job. My mum is really natural, so I've always kind of been that way, too. I do love beauty products though, like really love them. I like to feed my body from the inside to the outside. I love moisturisers and oils. Dr Bronners is one of my favourites, and Weleda Skin Food. I always take it travelling.
RMS products are my absolute favourite.
They’re 100% organic and so easy to travel with. I am obsessed with ‘uncover up’ it’s like a concealer/foundation mix that only needs to be placed on the areas you need to cover (dark circles, blemishes etc) and it blends right in with the rest of your skin. Because I don’t like to wear a lot of makeup, I love The Base Bronzing Crème (By Laura Worthington) on my cheekbones, forehead and nose too.
Nadia Fairfax introduced me to my now go-to beauty salon in LA.
At the start I thought it looked dodgy, but it's the best little, cheap find. It's called the Beverly Hills Spa. It's in Chinatown, so it's not even in Beverly Hills. You pay maybe a hundred dollars and you can get all of these treatments and scrubs and you can stay in the spa the whole day. They have all these different pools and saunas. As soon as I’m off the plane, I’m there.
I don't use conditioner anymore…
... ever. It [makes my hair] too limp. My styling tips for short hair are to get as much product in there, and to not wash it. Koh does my hair, he’s a freelance stylist. He just touches my hair and it looks great. He tells me to just rough it up and that works for me. When he does it, it’s amazing but when I do, it looks like I’ve just gotten out of bed! I love Mr Smith Texture Spray when I’m in need of a little volume - it works best on wet hair.
I don’t eat red meat by choice.
But, if I'm at a dinner party and it’s only red meat I'm not opposed to it. I just find it really hard for my body to digest. I eat a lot of fish; I rarely have red meat or chicken. I also have heaps of vegetables - I’m really into salads. Poor Nate sometimes asks me if we’re having a second dinner after what I serve! I like to drink apple cider vinegar as well.
I did a week at Gwinganna by myself…
No contact, no phone, nothing. It was amazing. It’s a lifestyle retreat not too far from the Gold Coast. I did lots of treatments there, and saunas, and swimming.I used the infrared sauna. I was in there for 3-5 minutes blocks. It's very intense, but gets all the bad stuff out. I loved having the time to properly indulge.
In LA I did heaps of yoga, but in Sydney I do a lot of pilates…
I do sometimes try to meditate, but my mind wanders. I do a lot of walking. I eat all organically. The doctors don’t really tell you about that when you’re diagnosed- they just say to eat well. But I drank a lot of juice [and] I can’t even stomach carrot juice now. I’ve just started having colonics too, which are great. I get them from Saimaa Miller at The Last Resort. I wasn’t feeling right for a long time and she actually changed my life. I also take magnesium, enterocare and zinc before I go to sleep. It helps heal, relax and calm me and is great for the skin. Oh, and I use coconut oil for everything!"