Film & TV

Teyana Taylor On Her First Serious Lead Acting Role With ‘A Thousand and One’

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The critically acclaimed drama film A Thousand and One is Teyana Taylor’s first major leading role in a film. Taylor, widely known as a singer, is fully committed to taking her acting career to new heights. 

In  A Thousand and One, Taylor stars as Inez de la Paz, a free-spirited young woman who has just been released from Rikers Island jail. Once she returns to her home in Harlem, she kidnaps her son Terry from the foster care system. Inez strives to create a stable life for him through working multiple odd jobs and finding a low-cost apartment in the ever-changing landscape of New York City.

Taylor began acting in 2010, appearing in films such as Stomp the Yard 2, Madea’s Big Happy Family, and The Trap. Yet, her roles were oftentimes more minor or casual. “I was always either the hot girl or the ghetto girl,” she said in an interview with ELLE.  “I was ready to be taken seriously.”

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In conversation with Elle, Taylor reflected on what she discovered about herself as an actress. “I taught myself a lot. I don’t have an acting coach or anything like that, so I’m learning as I go. Inez taught me so much about being able to channel different things,” she said. 

“When I used to be in my singing bag, people would always tell me to put all that energy into the booth. That’s never been me. I have to be happy to make a breakup song. I have to be in a stable place. I don’t feed off of negativity and being sad. So this was the first time that I channeled all of my anger and my sadness into a role. It didn’t matter how I had to get there, I just knew I had to get there. This project taught me how to tap in even when I’m happy. I started teaching myself different techniques of how to get there. I didn’t want the fake tears. I didn’t want fake emotions. I wanted it to feel real.”

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A Thousand and One is A.V. Rockwell’s feature debut, and it is distributed by Focus Pictures. It stars Teyana Taylor, Aaron Kingsley Adetola, Aven Courtney, Josiah Cross, William Catlett William Catlett, and Terri Abney. Lena Waithe, Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Rishi Rajani, and Brad Weston are producers. At the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in January, the film took home the Grand Jury Prize. 

The film will be released on Friday, March 31.

Watch the stirring trailer below:

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Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I also manage a book hub, which you can find on Instagram @bloomingliterature.

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