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NYFA New York Welcomes 'The Magicians' Actress Jade Tailor as Guest Speaker

NYFA New York Welcomes "The Magicians" Actress Jade Tailor as Guest Speaker

July 5, 2017 With Season 2 of Syfy's fantasy series "The Magicians" now available on Netflix, New York Film Academy's New York City campus welcomed actress Jade Tailor to a recent Guest Speaker event, moderated by NYFA Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby.

In a warm and frank conversation that ranged from Tailor's unique family to breaking stereotypes in casting, students were treated to her insights on navigating years of survival jobs before hitting a rhythm in the industry. "The big key is knowing your work so well that it doesn't feel like work anymore," Tailor told her audience of NYFA acting for film and musical theatre students. "Then you just get to play and enjoy it in the moment."

Tailor is perhaps best known for her starring turn as Kady Orloff-Diaz in "The Magicians," but NYFA students were inspired to hear the multifaceted artist's story. The actress pursued her childhood dream despite various obstacles, and continues to nurture a passion for using her work as a platform to benefit others.

"I was blessed in so many ways, but it wasn't easy," Tailor shared. "So I've always wanted to fight for people who were not privileged, who had a difficult time, and I am blessed to have this platform, and I feel it's my duty to utilize it in any way I can. I think that's what the drive is, now that I have some semblance of being in the spotlight: I want to utilize that for good. And I want to do work that inspires me and inspires others."

Growing up in Los Angeles with a mother who had worked as an actress in the 1970s and a father who had served in the Mossad, the Israeli Army's elite intelligence community, Tailor credits her parents for teaching her a strong work ethic and a deep appreciation for training and craft as an actor.

"In a lot of ways those two aspects were a foundation of me working that hard," Tailor explained, "But also because I loved it so much and it didn't come easily for me. The craft did, but I was actually really really nervous as a child. I would get up and I would actually shake when I would sing, but I loved what I did so much more than the nerves, and it was important to me to overcome that."

Tailor reminisced about years of "literally counting pennies to pay the rent" as an aspiring actor, working multiple jobs, and finding money-saving options in a "not inexpensive industry," like working with fellow up-and-coming professionals for essentials like demo reels and headshots. "It was definitely a long arduous road, but I knew I would get there if I put everything into it."

The actress repeatedly emphasized the need for aspiring actors to develop confidence and believe in their work. "I had this moment where I was like, something's not working here: I'm not getting work, so what's going on? And I was looking at myself and I went, okay, you know what, why do I do this? I do this because I love it. I do it because I love the craft, so I need to just go in there and do it because I love the work, and do it as if I've already gotten the job as if this audition is the job itself."

She recalls that this mindset helped her during a pivotal audition for the producers of "True Blood," where she went on to portray lead actor Stephen Moyer's first victim: "I really let go in that room and went, who is this character, what is her intention here? And I connected to the work and who she was, and I got a call a couple of hours later that I got the job."

After booking "True Blood," Tailor shared, "I was like ‘Yes I made it!' and then I got no work. There are gonna be moments where you get this great gig and then there's a lull for a long time." She stressed the importance of "having a great team behind you" as an actor, as well as "being conscious of the fact that you are going to have to sustain" through slow seasons as well as busy seasons. Tailor advised aspiring actors to get through lulls in their careers by looking for joy in their day jobs rather than thinking of them as a detour: "Not allowing yourself to get sucked into that world and drained by it, but how do you find the joy in it and know it's just a stepping stone?"

Tailor's hard work and patience was rewarded in 2015 when she booked "Aquarius" with David Duchovny. "I've been lucky to work with amazing people," she said with a smile. "I was set up to do one guest star spot and then they actually wrote an entire episode for me later in the series and I think -- I hope -- that's because I did great work."

It was while working on "Aquarius" that Executive Producer John McNamara approached Tailor about reading for "The Magicians." She originally auditioned for the role of Margot, but producers decided Tailor was a better fit for the tomboyish Kady, a character not in the original books and not at all like the roles Tailor had previously portrayed on television. Tailor revealed that Kady originally died in the first version of the pilot script, but that never dampened her excitement about the project.

After filming the pilot for "The Magicians," Tailor kept busy. She filmed "Aquarius" and "Murder in the First" with Taye Diggs. Then, she got the great news that "The Magicians" had been picked up.

"I am so lucky to be on this amazing show that I love and that's really fun with a great cast and crew," Tailor said of "The Magicians." Yet even in this busy season, the actress has her vision cast for the long term and is working to develop projects through her own production company, Eyeris Entertainment.

Tailor executive-produced her original project "But I Love Him," which was born through the actresses' volunteer work as a domestic violence counselor. She said that while viewing various training videos as a volunteer, she realized there was a need for a strong and accurate portrayal of what truly happens to victims throughout the cycle of abuse. She describes "But I Love Him" as "a pseudo documentary, because it was basically a woman filming herself while she was being abused, through that process." The piece premiered at festivals and is now used by various organizations as an education tool for raising awareness about domestic violence.

Among the many nuggets of wisdom Tailor shared, she advised students to trust their own uniqueness, bring their own authenticity to each role, and build confidence through hard work. This is advice Tailor puts into practice herself, having created her own production company. "The work is so important to me," shared Tailor, "And I always want to do work that is meaningful and inspires me and inspires others. I think when you're inspired yourself it's going to read to other people and then other people are going to be inspired too."

These guests are not faculty and do not teach at NYFA, but they have appeared to share their stories and experience with our students. As guest speakers are scheduled based on their availability, NYFA cannot guarantee whether a guest speaker will visit during a student’s attendance or who that guest speaker may be. This guest speaker forum is not part of any NYFA curriculum and attendance at guest speaker events is purely voluntary. Students should be aware that guest speaker events do not represent a job opportunity nor are they intended to provide industry connections.

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