Actress Tammin Sursok On Being A Champion For Women And Mental Health - Exclusive

While she may be best known for her roles on TV's "Pretty Little Liars," "The Young and the Restless," and "Hannah Montana," South African actress Tammin Sursok is also a multi-talented singer, producer, writer, director, host, and content creator.

Sursok first made a name for herself by starring on the popular Australian soap opera "Home and Away" and the top-rated American soap "The Young and the Restless" before appearing in the 2009 film "Crossing Over" with Harrison Ford. Up next is her film "Blood, Sweat and Cheer," a dramatic thriller and dark comedy with a twist that's based on true events.

The actress also hosts a celebrity interview series called "In Bed With Tammin" and co-hosts her popular podcast, "Women on Top." In an exclusive interview with The List, Tammin Sursok speaks about her latest projects, how she draws creative inspiration from her life, and how and why she's become a champion for women and mental health.

Her real life comes through in her work

Tammin Sursok's life as a mom of two daughters sometimes comes through in her work. "They grow into such different people every single year that I'm dealing with that sense of loss and how to let go," she says. "... In the movie ['Blood, Sweat and Cheer'], I [thought], 'What would that feel like if I had a daughter I love so much and I'm dealing with those emotions right now with loss and letting go, but I wasn't ...?' I've been through so much therapy in my life, so I've been able to work on my demons to be a better mom."

Expanding on the depths of her character in the film, she says, "Imagine this character didn't get that support, didn't feel like she ever achieved anything or felt she was enough or had [reached] her true potential. What would it feel like if you grew up being told you were never going to equate to anything, and then you have a daughter who you love so much who's equating to everything, and then you have to let them go into the world?" She adds, "I know what it's like to feel like I'm losing my children emotionally, and that's a hard one to wrestle with."

Motherhood and her childhood led her to become a champion for women

Tammin Sursok's interviews often focus on mental health and women's issues. She says her own childhood and motherhood led her to speak out. "My mom was a very successful singer and director in South Africa, and we immigrated, and she never got to become the woman that I knew she wanted to be," she says. "... I feel like there's a sense of subconscious sadness that she never got to fight for her dreams and fight for her goals. I never want my children to feel that."

As a former child actress, Sursok explains, "I've seen on set the inequality of women not being paid as much as men. ... It's important for there to be more positions in power that are female, so the gatekeepers are helping other women. ... We have been taught to pit ourselves against each other because there are not enough spots." She continues, "When women come together and they're a community, wonderful change can happen."

Therefore, hosting a podcast that's created a supportive community of women is especially meaningful to her. "People have opened up on our podcast and said things they've never said before about things they're struggling with or that they're scared of," she says. "... I hope [that for] people who listen to it, [that] it's changed them, but it's actually changed me far more than the people who listen."

"Blood, Sweat and Cheer," inspired by real events, premieres April 15 on Tubi. Tammin's podcast, "Women on Top," is also back for a new season.