As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Taylor Ré Lynn. Taylor, a New York native, is an actress, producer, and a philanthropist. She is best known for her stage and film work. She has been a producer for numerous prestigious films including the Golden Globe nominated ‘The Fencer’, and ‘Love Gilda,’ which premiered opening night of Tribeca Film Festival and on CNN. “The Fencer” was also a winner of the prestigious Bernhard Wicki prize at the 2015 Munich International Film Festival. Some of the other films she has produced include “Eight” (2018), “Little Wing” (2016), “Disheveled” (2015) and “Almost Strangers” (2015). She is currently working on film, music and theatre projects in New York, Dubai and Europe, such as Executive Producing “The Shepherd,” a historical drama taking place in Hungary in a territory occupied by the Nazis in 1944. Taylor Re Lynn grew up surrounded by a family of talented artists, which helped to foster her passion for the arts. She began performing at a young age in church, then subsequently in college and to the present. A mezzo-soprano, her music studies took place in the US and abroad with the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA). Her acting experience encompasses both theatre and film projects in New York and internationally. She is a graduate of the New York Film Academy. As a philanthropist, she has supported numerous international charities including those that foster breast cancer awareness, HIV eradication, and those providing support services for women and children in underprivileged communities. She is passionate about helping others and using her global platform to inspire and make a difference in the lives of others.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Taylor! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in New York and grew up surrounded by a family of talented artists, which helped to foster my passion for the arts.
Beginning at a young age, I performed in church, then subsequently in college and to the present.
Luckily, I was able to hone my performance skills in the church choir and in school plays. Performing for others was something that enabled me to grow personally and get out of my comfort zone. I am very passionate about it.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
My passion for film seemed like a natural transition when growing up surrounded by the arts. I remember watching some of my favorite films from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to Steven Spielberg’s ‘ET’ and being mesmerized and thought — I want to do that. Whether in front of the camera or behind, I was excited to learn about the film process. As an adult, I was able to attend the New York Film Academy and obtain subsequent training in screening writing, acting, and directing, then film production.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Getting the opportunity to open Tribeca Film Festival with our documentary film ‘Love Gilda’ was a fascinating experience.
This film meticulously came together after years of hard work and collaboration. The film is based on Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner’s life. She was a female pioneer for her time, and collaboration with her family and friends ultimately enabled us to tell her story through a variety of ways. Archival material available online through CBS, ABC, and all the stock houses were a resource, but a major turning point came in the project when Michael Radner, Gilda’s brother, offered our director access to substantial material including Gilda’s home movies, diaries, and audio tapes. This completely changed what the film could become and created the opportunity to make a more personal film. Instead of mainly public material, the director dove into finding more of the personal that could resonate with audiences and best tell Gilda’s story. In the end, I am proud of what the team was able to achieve.
For the film to open Tribeca Film Festival was an incredible honor for us all and it was interesting to how the project adapted over time.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Although it was not very funny at the time, it was a valuable lesson learned. On one of my first short films, I had to rent the film equipment since this was early on and I was just getting started in my career. I ended up going over budget.
Subsequently, I later became aware of the fact that a local nonprofit had equipment that I could have borrowed, if I had networked and reached out to the right people. But you live and you learn.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Currently, I am working on two Sci-Fi films, one of which is in post-production. Also, in development is a docu-drama, among other collaborative projects.
I’m very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
1. Film facilitates the sharing of different stories from different perspectives and opens up a whole new world of insight regarding various cultures.
2. People have a right to see themselves and their stories represented on screen versus going through their whole life and never seeing representation of themselves on screen.
3. It’s important to show little girls and boys that they do not have to look a certain way or be anything but their true self to succeed.
From your personal experience, can you recommend three things the community/society/the industry can do help address some of the diversity issues in the entertainment business?
1. Actively support independent films and female-led films.
2. Be mindful of your own unconscious bias and how this can impact the hiring process for films, team dynamics and set atmosphere.
3. Consider inclusion riders added to the contract to ensure people from underrepresented groups work on the film, both in front of and behind the camera.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. No matter what you plan, even the best plans can go off course. Don’t panic! Stay calm, focus, and reset expectations.
2. Remember to set realistic, attainable goals and work at them every day.
3. Being a good person to other is just as important, so grow your tribe.
4. Your attitude on set and business is your most important asset.
5. Film producing is sometimes a thankless job, but one perseveres onward if you truly love it.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Invest time in you! Finding work life balance is ever challenging given the tight project deadlines that we work under at times.
You are often afraid the next project won’t come and you must strike while the iron is hot and accept work; although it may not be the best timing. I try to make quality time to just enjoy quiet time at the spa once a month, jogging, or brisk walks in the park.
You must know when to take care of you and allow time to de-stress and rejuvenate.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Finding little ways to make a difference in the lives of others whether doing a kind deed for a neighbor, stranger or volunteering in the community once a month (or more often if time allows), is what I would like to inspire. I grew up volunteering for the Red Cross, American Cancer Society, and doing anonymous deeds for total strangers. It is rewarding to see the look of surprise on people’s faces when you impact their life in a positive way.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
From my immediate family, I would have to say my mother taught me to always have class and grace, even when dealing with difficult personalities or challenges. My mom has had a tremendous influence on the person I am today. You must manage your personal brand.
From a professional standpoint, I would have to say that my acting coach help me grow professionally, dissect a character and put my best performance forward. She was always so patient, caring and took the time to get to know me and care about what we were trying to accomplish.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is from Maya Angelou “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”.
Over time I have come to be more comfortable with being different and exploring what makes me unique and emphasizing these qualities. Obviously early on during teenage years, I was just trying to fit in and be part of the group. I think the turning point
was as I participated in youth leadership programs that enabled me to gain more confidence and best use my talent and skills.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to have a private breakfast with a female director like Princess Monique to learn more how she navigated to industry for decades from television to film. Likewise producer Kathleen Kennedy, who got her start in the industry as the personal secretary to director Steven Spielberg, but has gone on to be one of the top executive producers in Hollywood, would be great to meet for lunch and get helpful industry nuggets based on her years of experience. I think it is important to network as you never know where opportunities will lead.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!