Sometimes you meet someone who just has “it” and you know that they are going to do great things in the future. One such person is actor and producer Taylor Black.
Born in North Fork, NY, Taylor has already built an impressive resume in film and television. She’s appeared in series such as Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gossip Girl, Person of Interest and Law & Order. Most recently, she’s appeared in the hit NBC series Midnight, Texas and soon will be seen in the FOX series Lucifer.
She’s also is the co-owner of the production venture Black Tandem with her husband Brad Livingstone Black and has also produced several shorts.
We sit down with the Columbia University graduate to talk about how she got involved in the entertainment industry, working together with her husband for Black Tandem and some of her upcoming projects.
Pop Culture Principle – When did you know that you wanted to pursue a career in entertainment?
Taylor Black – I took acting classes locally in my pre-teen years in my hometown of Mattituck on the North Fork of Long Island. I knew immediately that acting was more than just a hobby and something I felt very passionate about. At the time, I was dead-set on tennis as my passion, but when I began to take acting classes seriously, I realized that it excited and inspired me a lot more than tennis (which I still love!) for my future.
My acting coach at the time, Frank Zagarino, gave me the guidance and encouragement to even begin to think that a career in acting was a possibility for me. He really believed in me and stuck his neck out for me, setting up a headshot shoot, getting me a meeting with my current longtime manager, Lori Danziger, and pushing for my dream to become a reality. I will alway be grateful for his priceless gift to me, the gift of believing in me and helping me take that first big leap.
Pop Culture Principle – You got your first major break working on the soap opera All My Children. Can you talk about what your experience was like working on a soap opera?
Taylor Black – Yes! It was a surreal dream come true for me! One minute I was a junior high student at Matittuck high school, and the next day, I signed a contract role on All My Children and was on set every day over the summer in NYC! It was the most amazing “acting boot camp”. We shot 5 episodes per week, and I learned how to memorize lines fast and experience what it is like working on a professional set! I will always have a warm place in my heart for Judy Blye Wilson, the first casting director to give me a shot and see potential in me!!
Pop Culture Principle – Did that experience help you when you moved on to film and television or did you have to forget what you learned in the soap opera world and somewhat start over again?
Taylor Black – It completely helped and prepared me for everything to come! I learned how to be professional on set, the importance of preparation and professionalism, and how to take creative risks on set! I learned about blocking, how to hit my mark, etc! I had a blast and I’m forever grateful and nostalgic for that time period!
Pop Culture Principle – Your first early television role was in an episode of Law & Order. Can you talk about what that experience was like and were you nervous at all?
Taylor Black – That experience was very interesting because I auditioned one day after school. I drove into the city with my mom for the director’s session and I got the call on our way home just as we got out of the midtown tunnel! It all happened so fast! They wanted that character to be played by Paris Hilton, who was on board, and then supposedly pulled out in the last minute. My character of Lauren Claiborne had a rainbow-colored dog, and she was a socialite with an attitude, ha! It was so much fun to meet and work with Jeremy Sisto, Anthony Anderson and Mario von Peeples (director).
Pop Culture Principle – In 2009, you won Miss New York Teen USA. How has that experience helped you in not only your acting career, but as a person?
Taylor Black – Winning Miss NY Teen USA was a shock for me because I didn’t grow up doing pageants. I actually knew nothing about them! I think the judges responded to my genuine answers that were not overly rehearsed. Pageantry taught me how to strut in heels (as corny as that is, it’s true!).
It taught me how to think on my feet, as the interview portion is always nerve-wracking! I had to brush up on current topics, think about my stances on numerous things, and etc., which serves me today because I can speak confidently and think on my feet in auditions, etc. In this business, it’s important to be able to think well on your feet!
Pop Culture Principle – You recently graduated with honors from Columbia University with a degree in Film Studies. How important has education been to you in your life?
Taylor Black – My parents really encouraged me from a young age to challenge myself in school. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I have always been an “uber nerd”. I enjoy reading and studying… weird, I know!
Columbia was a really inspiring place for me. I was shocked and thrilled to be accepted to the school of my dreams. Studying there opened my eyes in so many ways, as I was forced due to their intense CORE curriculum and take classes in subjects I would never have chosen to take, yet I am so glad I did because it opened my mind.
You’ve appeared in series such as Gossip Girl, 30 Rock, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, and Person of Interest to name a few. Is it easy for you or a are you a bit nervous working on a show where the core cast has been together for a while?
Taylor Black – I’m always nervous! Every single audition and every new job, I get nervous, but I think that’s a good thing because it means I really care about wanting to do the best job I can. I think nerves are a good thing :). However, working is the fun part! Auditioning is the real challenge. 🙂
Pop Culture Principle – You most recently appeared on the hit NBC series Midnight, Texas playing Gina who turns out not to be what she seems. Can you tell us how you landed that role?
Taylor Black – I was in upstate, NY enjoying a beautiful fall weekend watching the leaves change when I received an email from my agent with a self-tape request and the audition material.
I then shot a self-tape from NYC (where I was living at the time) to send to casting in LA!
Everything about the role and “Midnight Texas” interested me! The character description was so colorful and Gina was witty, flirtatious and TERRIFYING at the same time! My first thought was, “Well, this is certainly something new that I haven’t done before!”
I’m really drawn to roles that I can lose myself in, where I can really take on the skin of the character and step into very different shoes from my own. I really enjoy the process of creating interesting and atypical characters, and the more different they are from me, the better. My last three guest stars were: a troubled K-Pop Star (Criminal Minds), a Succubus monster (Midnight Texas), and an adult film star(!) for Fox’s Lucifer- certainly all very different from me, and seriously fun roles where I could create something new.
Pop Culture Principle – Can tell us how they gave you that scary look when you attacked your victims in the episode?
Taylor Black – Their SFX team made a mold of my teeth and created custom fangs which I wore in those scenes! Then, I had tracking dots put all over my jaw, chin, and lower cheeks for certain shots so that they could make my jaw unhinge in post-production!
Pop Culture Principle – What was it like working with the cast of Midnight, Texas?
Taylor Black – It was truly a blast! The cast, creative team, and crew could not have been kinder and more welcoming! The vibe was that of a warm and supportive family.
Pop Culture Principle – You are also the co-owner of Black Tandem. Can you tell us about it?
Taylor Black – Yes! I am so excited about my involvement with Black Tandem. My husband, Brad Livingstone Black is an artist who works in various mediums. He is a society portrait artist who paints, sculpts, and now works in film.
Black Tandem is our partnership in an intimate film production and video content company. Our mission is to practice cinematic art that is thoughtful, creatively rewarding, financially viable and reflects light upon the human condition. We have made two short films together, and have enjoyed creating branded video content for a few luxury brands.
Brad is also currently writing a screenplay adaption of a book he has optioned titled “Caveat Emptor”. The book was originally optioned by Ron Howard and the project had Ryan Gosling attached. For whatever reason, the project was abandoned and we picked it up (still pinching ourselves that we got the option)! Black Tandem also covers our art partnership, as I consult for Brad’s portraiture commissions.
Pop Culture Principle – You’ve executive produced and co-starred in two projects through Black Tandem, Helen of Troy and Les Falaises. Can you talk about your experience producing those projects and do you hope to do more producing in the future?
Taylor Black – Producing for the first time was overwhelming, but I wanted to put my film degree to use! I learned a great deal about permits, budgeting, SAG contracts, negotiations, creative collaborations, etc! The hardest part has been tackling film festivals. We just started submitting and received our first acceptance into the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival! We’re very excited 🙂
I hope to produce more in the future, but with more help! Producing on my own was a bit daunting. We would love to partner with larger production companies to realize the screenplay Brad is currently writing as well as his ideas for the future, and to bring his grander film visions to life.
You can watch the Helen of Troy teaser here.
Pop Culture Principle – One of your upcoming projects will be appearing in an episode of the FOX series Lucifer? What can you tell us about your role in that upcoming episode?
Taylor Black – I’m really excited because I love “Lucifer”! My role is very silly but also takes an unexpected turn similar to “Midnight, Texas”. I can’t say much more about the role until the promo is released, but I think it’s a really fun role and I hope viewers will enjoy it!
Pop Culture Principle – Social media has become a big part of the entertainment industry. What are your thoughts on social media and how involved with it are you?
Taylor Black – I am trying to become more involved in social media. I started participating in Twitter just recently with my last two roles. It was really rewarding and fun to interact with the fans of the show and share behind the scenes pics, hear their reactions, etc!
Pop Culture Principle – We are seeing a big push for diversity in the industry with race and gender. I know it’s a big question, but do you think progress is being made or is there a lot more work to be done?
Taylor Black – I think progress is absolutely being made! It’s really exciting to see more and more diversity on TV. I like watching TV with very diverse casts, like “Midnight Texas”! I think it makes for more interesting content.
Pop Culture Principle – Any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Taylor Black – I just booked a role this week in a film with one of my all-time favorite directors! I can’t say anything more right now, but stay tuned!
We’d like to thank the wonderfully talented and gracious Taylor Black for sitting down to talk with us. We hope that you will also agree that she is definitely one person to watch! If you would like to keep up with all her latest news, projects and social media, you can visit her official website here:
**Midnight, Texas photo courtesy of NBC**
**All other photos courtesy of TaylorBlackOfficial.com**