This past Thursday afternoon, the New York Film Academy One-Year Acting students were surprised with a special guest, actress, Erica Tazel. Erica is best known for her role of Deputy U.S. Marshal Rachel Brooks on the hit FX television show, Justified. Moderating the event was Acting Chair, Glynis Rigsby, who was more than delighted to pick the talented young actress’ mind.
While Erica was, for the most part, a working actress coming out of school, she reached a point while living in Los Angeles where she had to make a game changing decision in her life. She was offered a teaching job at Spelman College in Georgia, but wasn’t sure if that would be giving up on her career. After a personal one-on-one with her agent, Erica made the decision to turn down the job, even though it would bring stability to her life. As fate would have it, Erica was called in to audition for a pilot the next day. That pilot was Justified. And not only did she nail the audition, she is now a series regular on the hit show that just wrapped its 5th season.
However, auditions were not always automatic for Erica. “I don’t even call them auditions anymore,” said Tazel. “I call them opportunities.” In a business that requires a thick skin and the ability to accept rejection gracefully, Erica developed several techniques to bring the whole process into a positive light. It was this attitude, in addition to her obvious charm, beauty, and talent, that has enabled Erica to reach her current level of success.
Another interesting anecdote from Erica’s talk was how she told the students that she sat down and watched the entire first season of Justified during the hiatus. She carefully studied her part and the show on a whole. With that, she came up with several suggestions for the writers of the show. Low and behold, her initiative ended up creating an entire episode, devoted to her character and her ideas. Just goes to show the kind of commitment and enthusiasm that is needed to succeed in this industry.
Aside from being a terrific actress and charismatic speaker, Erica is heavily involved with a charity called Get on the Bus. The charity reunites children in California with their mothers and fathers in prison. It is a wonderful cause and something Erica cares very deeply about.