Occupation: Lead graphic artist
Family: Married to Steve Wildsmith, two years in May; stepson, Ezra Wildsmith, 5, three cats and two dogs.
Anyone who knows Tessa Bright Wildsmith knows she loves animals.
She and her husband and stepson share their home with three cats and two dogs, three of which are named after characters from the television show “Lost.” The cats are Hugo and Claire, and one dog is Jack. The other dog is Harley. In addition, Tessa is the primary care-giver for Scoop, the Blount Today office cat who goes home with her every night, and, lately, has complained about coming back to work in the mornings.
A Blount County native, Tessa graduated from William Blount High School in 1999. She earned an associates degree in Communications Graphics Technology at Pellissippi State in May of 2003 and started with the News Sentinel in October of that year.
When Blount Today was started in August of 2004, she was asked to come to Maryville as lead graphics artist. “The best part of the job is the people I work with,” Tessa says. “It’s a small group of people but we are all incredibly dedicated and committed. Everybody is passionate about their job.”
Tessa has ad director Marty Millsaps to thank for introducing her to the love of her life, Steve Wildsmith. “I met him as soon as we started Blount Today in August of 2004. We were both in other relationships at the time and became friends. We started dating in February of 2007 and married two years later,” she says. “From the first time we met, we had a connection. We bonded over music and have similar outlooks on life and a similar dark sense of humor. We kind of clicked from the beginning.”
When they married, Tessa became not just a wife, but a stepmother. “I never thought I’d be a stepmom, but now I can’t imagine my life without Ezra.”
Tessa says when she’s not working, she and her husband enjoy live music, and she loves to read, as evidenced by her “Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading” book review column in the Monday edition of Blount Today. The pair also enjoy watching their favorite television shows. “We’re TV addicts. Our DVR is constantly recording something,” she says. “And feeding animals. There are a lot of hours spent feeding animals.”
Here is Tessa Bright Wildsmith:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“We have to go back!” From Jack to Kate on the television show “Lost.”
What are you guilty of?
“Being too hard on myself. I don’t forgive myself very easily when I mess up.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My books and movies and my iPod. I have three because I could never choose between them.”
What are you reading currently?
‘”The Monsters of Templeton,’ by Lauren Groff.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“I’m sure some horribly embarrassing thing happened to me in high school, but apparently it was so traumatic, I’ve blocked it out completely because I can’t think of anything.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“Go on an African Safari; visit the Galapagos Islands; and go skydiving.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“No-nonsense. I don’t fool around, and I get to the point.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I would be more outgoing. I’m not shy at all, but it takes people a long time to get to know me. I’m not very open with people I don’t know very well.”
What is your passion?
“Animals. I’ve got a bleeding, compassionate heart for animals of all kinds. My husband and I joke that he takes care of the lost humans in the world, and I take care of the lost animals. Between the two of us, we’ve got it covered.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“Dian Fossey. I’ve always been fascinated by her work with the gorillas in Rwanda. I would love to sit down and hear her experiences living among those great beasts in the rain forests.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“That’s a hard one. I guess if I could go back to any one point in history, I would love to go back to 1963 and be present for Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech from the Lincoln Memorial.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“Christmas before last, my husband made me an entire box set of unreleased Ryan Adams music. I’m slightly obsessed with the man, and it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever opened.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“She would probably like me to say something about being independent, which she did instill in me, but the thing that comes to mind is: ‘Beauty is more important than comfort.’ Even if your feet really, really hurt, that beautiful pair of shoes is worth it.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My brother, Nick, and sister, Melissa. My brother toughened me up, usually by being mean to me when we were young, but I still ended up tougher for it in the end. My sister inspires me. She’s talented and caring and has so many wonderful qualities that I admire.”
Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?
“I have a Facebook that I’m on a lot. I have a Myspace too, but I can’t even remember the last time I logged on. I hate Twitter. It’s pointless.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“Working in a day care. I only made it a month. I love kids, but I’m not really good with them. I don’t have the patience for the senseless chatter and short attention spans.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
“I’m not sure I had a favorite Saturday morning cartoon, but I did come home from school every day and watch Woody Woodpecker. He was awesome.”
What irritates you?
“Close-mindedness and ignorance.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“Tomato Head restaurant. The Oh Boy sandwich is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and their weekend brunch can’t be matched.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Forgiveness is the key to happiness. It took me too long to figure out that holding onto anger only hurt myself.”
What is your greatest fear?
“Germs and uncleanliness. Public door handles and people coughing can make me come close to having a panic attack. And the show ‘Hoarders?’ I just can’t handle it.”
I still can’t quite get the hang of…
“Whistling by blowing out. I can only whistle by sucking air in.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, what would it be?
“Buy a house in Key West so I could run away to my favorite place anytime I wanted.”