Interview with Tamara Taylor - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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On the Fox TV series “Bones” Tamara Taylor plays the beautiful and smart Dr. Camille Saroyan, Head of the Forensic Division of the Jeffersonian Institute.  She spoke to The TV MegaSite by phone in January 2008 about her life as an actress and life on the show.

Article by Nadine

TVM: Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
TT: I was born and raised in Toronto Canada.

TVM: Do you have brothers and sisters?
TT: Not that I grew up with. I have a half brother and a half sister. I’ve never met them.

TVM: Oh. You’ve never met them before?
TT: No.

TVM: That’s funny. I have the same thing.
TT: Are you serious?

TVM: I’m serious.
TT: One on Mom’s side, one on Dad’s side.

TVM: Just my Dad. I’ve seen pictures of them but I’ve never met them.
TT: Yeah, me too. So you grew up as an only child too?

TVM: Yeah an only child.
TT: I think there are major perks to that.

TVM: Oh yeah. What do you consider a perk to that?
TT: Well I think the fact that my Mom is one of my best friends is really an amazing thing. I know that a lot of people can have challenging relationships with their parents.

TVM: Did that help you when you were going into acting?
TT: Oh well she’s my A number one fan and has been totally supportive so yeah it’s been really helpful.

TVM: You’re part African-American?
TT: Yes.

TVM: On your Dad’s side?
TT: Yes.

TVM: Are you West Indian as well? I know there are a lot of West Indians in Toronto.
TT: Yes. Actually I grew up with Jamaicans, Bajans, and Trinis but he’s not actually. He’s from Africville, which no longer exists, in Nova Scotia.

TVM: Wow!
TT: Yeah. Pretty cool story about that town. It’s kind of like Rosewood actually but I’m assuming that the black folks that landed in Africville were probably from the states. They were probably brought up through the UndergroundRailroad.

TVM: Did you ever wish you had brothers and sisters?
TT: I sure did because I was grounded a whole lot and I wish I had a playmate at times.

TVM: Were you very rebellious?
TT: Probably the answer would have to be yes. I think I was a pretty good kid but I never liked to follow the rules.

TVM: So what’s your favorite childhood memory?
TT: I’d have to say one of my favorite childhood memories was in the middle of summer and there was a sunshower. It was really really pouring and my Mom looked at me and said let’s get on our bathing suits and we ran down the street and we jumped in puddles in our bathing suits. It was just pure joy.

TVM: Awesome. So she taught you a different way of looking at life… thinking outside of the box.
TT: Exactly.

TVM: Have you seen any big differences between the US and Canada?
TT: Certainly I can’t speak for all of the US but Los Angeles, which is where I landed, thers’s a huge difference between the East Coast and the West Coast. And then you throw Canada vs. America in the mix. I think Canada is sort of a weird hybrid country. It’s sort of influenced by the UK and has a lot of Americanisms as well. So I think we’re this interesting hybrid of the UK and America. And I think Canada is very progressive is the thing that I noticed. I realized that after I left.

TVM: Progressive in what way?
TT: Well I think in terms of education, race relations, I mean gay marriage is legal in Canada. There are just a few things that we seem to be a little more open-minded about.

TVM: When did you realize that you wanted to act?
TT: Wow… I think it was a little thought before it was a revelation. I used to watch Star Trek and Mary Tyler Moore and I used to wonder if I could ever do something like that. It looked like it would be fun so I think I had the desire when I was five or six but didn’t pursue it because I was really, really shy. I don’t think the revelation that I wanted to act came until I was about twenty.

TVM: That was kind of late. How did you start out actually acting? Did you take it in school or did you just start going out on auditions?
TT: Actually I moved here. I didn’t do much of anything in Canada. There wasn’t much of anything to do except children’s theater and commercials. There wasn’t anything for me. So I basically got myself into class. I visited my best friend in the world, Cree Summer- she had moved out here before me.

TVM: Oh she was on “A Different World”.
TT: Yeah.

TVM: Oh my gosh, that’s your best friend? What a small world. You knew her from in Canada?
TT: Yeah. We grew up together.

TVM: How is she?
TT: Amazing. Making music, doing voice-overs, having a good one.

TVM: We’re going off on another tangent…
TT: Yeah I moved out here about five or six years after she’d landed and started taking class.

TVM: What would you say is the best thing about being an actress and what is the hardest thing about being an actress?
TT: I’d say the answer is probably the same for both. The best thing is being able to observe human behavior and attempt to re-create every nuance. It’s so much fun and absolutely amazing and probably the most difficult thing about being an actress as well.

TVM: Have you had to deal with a lot of rejection in the acting business?
TT: Absolutely. I don’t think I’ve met an actor or an artist who hasn’t encountered a lot of rejection. I think I just remind myself that there is more than enough to go around and that I can never lose a job that’s mine. I truly believe that.

TVM: So now you’re on “Bones” . Tell me what a typical day is like.
TT: In the beginning of the week, it usually starts pretty early. I drag myself out of bed at four o’clock, crawl into the shower, pour myself a cup of coffee, pour myself into the car with my little thermos and drive myself to work for five, five-thirty- AM and then sit in hair and make-up for about an hour and a half, go into rehearsal, rehearse the first scene of the day, and everybody’s inner eyelids haven’t opened yet. We’re just sort of going through the motions and then the magic begins. They get the lights set up, everybody’d eaten and gotten their first cup of Joe, and then we get into it.

TVM: About how many scenes do you do each day? What portion of an episode do you get through in a typical workday?
TT: We average about five to six pages a day. That’s, on average, about four scenes so it moves pretty fast. An average day is usually anywhere from twelve to sixteen hours. And I think the crew probably works the hardest. TV drama is pretty ah….

TVM: Grueling
TT: Yeah (laughter). But there’s a lot of laughter on the set so that really makes it better.

TVM: You were in [Joss Whedon’s feature film] “Serenity”. How did you like working in film? Do you want to do more film work in the future?
TT: You know I know it’s really cliché but absolutely. It’s really fun but I think TV exercises a different group of muscles. It requires that you get as much as you can in as short amount of time as you can. With film, you really get to sort of explore a character and you’re given a lot more time to develop. It’s a whole different medium.

TVM: I watch “Bones” and am so creeped out by some of those corpses. Do you ever get creeped out by them? Have you ever run from one of them? Because I think I would have.
TT: You know the one I thing that took the cake for me was the liquefied man in the tub. That was pretty grisly. The reason why there is so much laughter on the set is probably because we’re dealing with such dark subject matter. Every now and then when you’re playing with someone’s tibia or playing drums with someone's thigh bone you realize that if this were real life, this would be pretty awful.

TVM: You’re working on a procedural drama. When you watch TV, what genre do you tend to watch? You probably want to get away from the procedural dramas when you watch TV.
TT: I sure do. I think, oddly enough, I think “Dexter” is fairly procedural but that’s my favorite show on TV right now.

TVM: What do you do when you’re not acting. What are your hobbies. It doesn’t sound like you have much free time though.
TT: Wow, reading, reading. I love words. It’s one of my favorite things to do and I don’t have nearly enough time.

TVM: What was the last thing you read?
TT: “Eat, Pray, Love”.

TVM: Was it non-fiction? What was it about?
TT: Yes. It’s about One woman’s search for everything across India, Italy, and …

TVM: … after a divorce. I knew I had heard of it. And I meant to read it.
TT: It’s fantastic. If you get some time, pick it up and read it. It’s really great.

TVM: Okay. I’ll do that. I love reading too and it’s the same thing. I just never get the time.
TT: I know… You wanna disappear inside a book for a good few hours. That’s just really how I like to do it. So as a result, I end up reading a lot less than I’d like to.

TVM: What’s your all-time favorite book?
TT: Wow…

TVM: Okay. Name one book you’ve read more than once.
TT: “The Fountainhead”

TVM: “The Fountainhead”?
TT: Uhm

TVM: By Ayn Rand?
TT: Uhm

TVM: Really?
TT: Uhm

TVM: That’s interesting.
TT: Yeah I really liked it the first time and wanted to see if there was anything else I could pick up the second round.

TVM: That’s a huge book to read twice!
TT: It is. And you know, I read it the first time like I was on fire for it. The second time I would just sort of pick it up and flip through it.

TVM: What’s your favorite film so far this year?
TT: I’d have to say two films- they’re two completely opposite films. “Talk to Me”- I loved.

TVM: Which one was that again?
TT: With Don Cheadle

TVM: Oh yeah at the radio station. Okay.
TT: Loved that film! And loved “The 300”. It was like, visually, the most breathtaking thing I’ve ever seen.

TVM: Which of your personality traits are you the proudest of?
TT: I think my kindness.

TVM: Is that something that people comment on or is it just something that you’ve always known about yourself?
TT: I think because it’s something I really value, maybe that’s why it’s something I notice in myself.

TVM: Well that’s a great trait to have. Especially nowadays. Do you ever find yourself questioning yourself like maybe I shouldn’t be so kind?
TT: Absolutely and it’s a challenge to figure out when kindness becomes weakness.

TVM: Right. Like where do you draw that line.
TT: Right I think where do you draw that line becomes the big challenge.

TVM: I guess it depends on how much you trust yourself or how much confidence you decide to put in yourself.
TT: Right. That’s it.

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