Interviews / TV

Take a Page Out of Taylor Love’s New Sitcom, “Shelved”

Taylor Love grew up gazing at the stars in more ways than one. “One thing I do remember feeling was like a really small player (stature wise) in a big, magical world,” she recalls. “Everything and everyone was literally bigger than me, so I was always looking up. I’ve made it a point to look back at all the photos my mom thankfully took to get an idea of what it was like, and I see myself through the years with people like Usher, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Diahann Carroll. The person I am today sometimes can’t believe I got to share the screen with such huge icons. There’s moments I distinctly remember experiencing and I remember how I felt at the time, and then I watch the project now as an adult and all of it comes together and makes sense. That trip down memory lane is a very unique experience. I was always incredibly taken care of by everyone around me and I couldn’t have asked for better projects and roles at that young age.” Perhaps the most significant was playing Kelly in Soul Food, the reverberations of which are still felt. “I’m honestly still figuring out how it feels, but it’s pretty crazy to be a part of history like that! It’s kind of surreal to learn about how iconic it was and still is almost 20 years after my time on the show. I really had no idea of the impact when I was a kid. What I can say is it’s incredibly special to experience love to this day. I went down a YouTube hole once and there was an account that had a ton of clips and full length episodes of Soul Food (2001). The comments were absolutely flooded with love and support for the show and people sharing how the representation in the show made them feel. There’s also been a lot of comments about bringing the show back for more. To know that it is still so beloved and impactful almost two decades after the finale is an indescribable l feeling. I’m still close with the actors who played my mom and dad, and I see all the support they still get for their roles on the show even after they’ve gone and done so many other amazing projects. All I know is if there’s a call for a reboot, I’ll answer!”

Representation is especially important for Taylor in honor of a child who perpetually sought reflection. She hopes to gallop towards a more diverse future! “Since I was young, I’ve been watching some of the greatest movies to ever grace the big screen – movies that were impactful, special, memorable and stood the test of time. But I seldom saw myself represented in those franchises. The odd time I did see Black actors in those worlds, it usually wasn’t Black women. I’m a huge fan of fantasy and sci-fi and those in the cast were and still are predominantly made up of non-POC actors. As a little kid who was so immersed in what she was watching, I too dreamt of using a wand, or riding a dragon, or fighting off dinosaurs – but I literally didn’t see it. It’s almost comical to me that we can’t envision Black folks in roles that have mythical creatures and fantastical situations in the storyline. I started horseback riding at 12 years old and began competing at 16, and even in the real world I saw only one other Black girl. Art imitates life I guess. But I’m yearning for a role that calls on me to use my equestrian skills, whether it’s set in the real world or a fictional one. To have the opportunity to be a strong, fleshed out character and reset the precedent. I’ll happily be the example for the younger generation to watch and be inspired by.” Even if she weren’t behind the camera, she would still be fighting to save the world. And simply palling around with the animal kingdom. “Climate change and the preservation of the planet is of great importance to me, so definitely something to do with animals and biodiversity. I’ve always daydreamed of being close up with marine life – cleaning up the oceans, cutting fishing lines off of whales, etc. I’m also a huge dinosaur buff, so living out my paleontology dreams is also an option. I’d be the best candidate for any of these jobs because I’d literally go anywhere to be involved with wild animals. Anytime I see a video of a zookeeper playing with an otter I truly consider dropping everything to try and join them.” She has an affinity for characters who lead with joy. “I love my role in the animated series Summer Memories (2022). It was actually my first voice job and one of the first times I’ve been purposely asked to unleash my inner child and all the banter that’s in my head! I play Joanna, who’s feisty, unapologetic, honest, kickass, but also the best friend you could ask for and the one who will always be in your corner. I have so much fun in the booth and I get to just play. The writers do an incredible job and I feel so fulfilled after a recording session for her.” 

That authenticity provides affirmation in a career submerged in self-doubt. “Trust yourself and embrace your process. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in auditions, bookings, and all the moving parts that come after you book and you’re actually on set. But then I remember I was cast for a reason. I deserve to be here and I deserve to have it be an exciting and enjoyable experience – I don’t need to anxiously live in my head the whole time. I’ve done the prep, I’m in the zone – I can just be. This practice has now come to manifest outside of acting and applies to me in everyday life. The acting industry can bring a lot of challenging moments like rejections.” Managing your psychological well-being is paramount, particularly when it feels like you’re auditioning into a blank void. “A huge thing for me and my mental health is understanding things that don’t necessarily apply to me so that I can make sense of a situation. My agent can attest that I ask a lot of behind the scenes questions regarding her process of submitting, casting, breakdowns, all of that stuff. That really helped me navigate the murky waters of auditioning, especially now that everything is self-taped and you don’t have the face-to-face contact that you used to in person. I can no longer get a read on who’s in the room, my choices – nothing at all and that can feel really emotionally isolating. As soon as I learned more about how casting can work, what small things determine who gets cast and what levels my self-tapes have to go through past the casting director, I stopped taking things like rejection personally. And that greatly improved my mental health because I abandoned the idea that I was making the wrong choices or that I wasn’t cut out for this line of work. Some advice I’d give is to stop thinking that just because you didn’t book the job, that means you bombed your audition or that you’re a bad actor. It absolutely doesn’t mean that. Also – don’t forget your friends. You need support in this industry whether it’s having someone to call on to help you with a tape, or to just chat and share your similar experiences with. Understanding your industry past what’s required of you can alleviate the funky feeling that comes with slow periods or low bookings. Then you can move on to the next audition and give it your all with a clear head. Rinse and repeat. I credit my partner and my loved ones who understand the nuance and challenges of what my job can ask of me, and I’m eternally grateful that I have a safe space to pursue my career in this industry.”

Taylor will be telling her next story as Sheila in Shelved. “Shelved is our brand new sitcom that follows the employees and patrons of the Jameson Branch of the Metro Public Library. It truly is a real show based on real people and we have characters that you’ll know and recognize from real life. Those watching may never have spent extended periods of time in an underfunded public library, but they can expect to really feel a part of our environment in the show. The beautiful city of Toronto will be on display and topical subjects and issues will also be acknowledged. The universal themes of friendship, community and optimism are prevalent throughout the show. Audiences will surely fall in love with the Jameson Branch.” Sheila is tender hearted and giving towards others. “Miss Sheila Boyd is a tenacious, hard-working, mature, and incredibly caring young woman who is the daughter of Caribbean immigrants and is working hard to secure her own independent future. She’s a part-time employee who runs the Settlement Desk at the Jameson Branch, as well as a law student pursuing her degree. She’s always on the go, but is never too busy to give back to those who are new to the country and trying to figure out where to start to build a better life. Every character in our show is a person that we all recognize, but Sheila especially is an everyday woman just trying to do her best (all while looking fabulous in her colorful outfits). Amidst all the hilarious chaos in the show, Sheila is a bit more grounded because she’s dealing with more outside of the library. I loved telling her story and I can’t wait for Sheila to resonate with the audience.” Taylor knows that resilience can lead you to thrive. “Jessica Chastain said it best: ‘Keep going – you’re one job away.’ Now that’s easier said than done, but it’s still true. Perseverance is the name of the game and auditioning can be a lonely, draining and unpaid process. But keeping your head and your focus will eventually pay off. Keep going.” Your dreams might just be waiting on the next page. Shelved will premiere on CTV March 6th. 

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Take a Page Out of Taylor Love’s New Sitcom, “Shelved.” Photo Credit: Aidan Tooth Photography.

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