If you haven’t seen our weekly webcast “Connected,” you owe it to yourself to check it out each Monday at 11am PST. (It’s free to stream live by signing up here.) Hosted by Grammy-winning producer DJ IZ and actor Cloie Wyatt Taylor, “Connected” gives you the inside scoop on weekly exclusive job openings in the industry and how to apply for them—plus opportunities to call in with questions and even some special guests!
A true industry pro in her own field, Cloie Wyatt Taylor is a busy actor who has made appearances on numerous TV shows, including How to Get Away with Murder, Grey’s Anatomy, Revenge, Superstore and many others. As co-host for “Connected,” Cloie plays a key role in helping our viewers get connected to jobs in film, recording and broadcasting. Cloie recently chatted with us to share a bit of her backstory and how she keeps up the “hustle.” We found it interesting that although her field is different from that of many of our students, many of the challenges are the same. We hope Cloie inspires you to keep up your own hustle. Enjoy!
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RRFC: So can you start by telling us a little bit about how you got started in acting?
Cloie Wyatt Taylor:
When I was about 3, my parents got me the Annie
tape, and I watched it once and could not turn it off. I learned all of the lines, all of the songs, all of the dances, and I would reenact it on a daily basis just from the perspective of different characters. So one day I was Rooster, one day I was Lilly St. Regis and one day I was Annie… [My parents] put me in dance and it stuck. When I was about 11, I got to work with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and that’s when I started training hours and hours a week to be a professional dancer. Then when I was about nine I saw a friend of mine in a play at the Folger Theatre, it’s this really historic theatre in D.C., and I was like, “Oh that’s what I really want to do.”
RRFC: Were your parents supportive of you?
I have parents that were more about “Go after, chase it, whatever, make it happen. Do whatever that is that sets your soul on fire.”…I’m very blessed in the fact that they have always said, “Whatever you’re going to do, just go and do it, but be in love with it.”
RRFC: What kind of training did you have? Any formal education?
I did go to college—I went to NYU—but before I went to school, I was already acting and stuff as a teenager. I’d done shows with Debbie Allen and I’d done some TV stuff, and I’d done a movie when I was still a kid, a teenager, and so I’d had my school of hard knocks before I did any sort of organized school situation.
RRFC: So what brought you to Los Angeles?
I got an opportunity to work with the Atlantic Theatre Company. They had a conservatory out here…They’re amazing, out of New York, it’s started by David Mamet and William H. Macy, like legit stuff. So that brought me from New York to L.A….I left my entire life in New York and I re-rooted myself. I moved here with two suitcases and started from scratch.
RRFC: What was your first acting role?
Actually, my very first acting gig was All My Children
, and I got to do a couple episodes of that. And that was fun because I’d be at school during the day, and I’d come home, and there’d be like a script on my porch or something, and my Mom would be like, ‘Well we know what we’re doing tomorrow.”…And we’d go up to New York, and I would shoot, and we’d come home.
RRFC: It can be a tough business. What do you do for yourself to stay positive and keep hustling?
Growing up by myself, I was not a stranger to talking to myself, so as an adult that’s a habit that I’ve carried with me. I talk to myself all the time…and it sounds crazy and I don’t care…I talk to myself a lot, specifically when I’m afraid of something, because I need to voice out loud the thing that it is I’m afraid of. What is the worst possible thing that could happen? And the thing is, it’s never that I will die. It’s always that I will be embarrassed or something, and that’s ego-based, and so I talk that out so that I can move past it.
I’m a big believer in accountability, and so I feel like one of the best things that I can do for myself to combat the fear and stay positive is to show up and do my work. So if I have a huge audition and I’m terrified of it for whatever reason…then it’s like, “Great, that’s going to make me want to work even harder on that audition.” So that in the moment when I am scared, or if perhaps I’m scared because I don’t want to create it if it doesn’t exist, it is just so ingrained in me, the choices that I’ve made, the character development that I’ve done, any homework I have applied, any hard work and hustle that I have done, it will show up in the room and nothing else will matter. So that’s one way that I can combat and stay positive is just being over prepared.
RRFC: What do you do in order to stay grounded personally?
As an artist, our egos can be real….And the thing about ego is it can go either way: It can go to that overblown arrogant sort of thing, that’s an overblown ego that way, but then it can also go the other way into this totally self-deprecating sort of thing. They’re both ego, just opposite sides of the same spectrum…The way I have found to help me stay grounded is I have a very strong support unit and that’s both family and friends…who do keep me in check cause I am very passionate…I have people in my life that are not afraid to stop and check me and I am so grateful for that.
What I am finding is that rooting myself in what I know to be true about me, helps to keep me grounded. I know and am finding out on a daily basis who I am, and I’m so grateful for that awareness. I know what I’m good at. I know what I can be better at. Clearly identifying what my strengths and weaknesses are, and knowing when I’m doing my best to strengthen my weaknesses and when I’m not.
RRFC: How do you forgive yourself if you feel you have failed at something?
I fail all the time. As a human being I feel like we fail all the time… It’s just another opportunity to try it differently…There’s no stronger lesson than failure…
Not getting a job is not going to kill you. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Someone says no, and no just really means “not right now”… Sometimes that’s hard to hear, but I also believe in acknowledging the dark feelings, to acknowledge what I’m feeling, and if I’m a little blue, to track it and to give myself some time to feel it, give myself this day to feel this feeling, and then tomorrow we’re going to take this feeling and repurpose it and use it as fuel for the fire.
RRFC: So how does “Connected” tie in with your larger or deeper purpose or journey? What is it that you personally take away from hosting “Connected?”
“Connected” helps me to remember that we’re all on the same journey, and everyone’s journey looks a little different, so it’s helpful to me in the discussion of perspective. And I love that… So talking and connecting with all the people who watch the show and call in, it reminds me constantly of what I’m working towards in my drive, and it’s inspiring. So I’m glad to know that I’m offering advice and inspiration, but I feel like I’m only able to give what I’m receiving. I feel inspired working with “Connected” and so I’m able to give inspiration too, and I’m just grateful for that opportunity.
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