ED- The Eerie Digest has the great honor of presenting actress Mirelly Taylor, of NBC’s ‘Lost’ to all of our readers. Mirelly this is a real pleasure. We understand that early in life you had a near tragic accident that, upon your recovery, helped you determine your true path in life. Can you tell us all about it?
MT- I was 19 and in my sophomore year at SMU. I ended up with a 16 inch skull fracture and major brain damage. I was in a coma for 3 days and the doctors told my Mom I probably wasn’t going to make it. So they allowed my little brother and sister into the room to see me before I went into emergency brain surgery. It was quite horrific for my family. Amazingly enough, I’ve always had a real kindred spirited connection with my little brother and as he touched my arm and said my name… My eyes fluttered and I woke up enough to recognize him and say his name. Now I immediately passed out after that but that split moment changed everything. I was out of the hospital in a few days and life became very clear to me at that moment. I had such clarity about what I wanted to do with my life and how what I was doing was more to go along with what had been set for me by my family and not necessarily what truly brought me joy and passion and fulfillment.
I quit school and enrolled into a two year conservatory for acting and was so driven and challenged by the entire process. I loved it. My life became very exciting and my dreams were now no longer concepts but real possibilities. That accident was the best thing that could have happened to me. It’s tragic that it sometimes takes a near death experience to make you realize what’s truly important in your life.
ED- You also graduated with honors from SMU. Can you tell us about your early training here?
MT- Oh, my Mom would be so proud, if that were true. Lol. That was high school, not college. I was a real nerd in high school. College is where I really came into my own. I grew as a person and saw the world open up for me. I’m glad I went to college, even if I didn’t graduate. I wouldn’t be who I am today without that experience. The classes were so interesting and thought provoking. The professors were different and edgy. Most were hippies or professionals in their own right.
ED- From the start your lead performance in ‘Beyond Honor’ gave you high recognition. Tell us about the production, and your role in it.
MT- That was my first lead role where my character was the central focus of the film. I put my heart, sweat, and tears into Sahira. The film was so dark and it allowed me to go deep into my darkest places. I rehearsed for two months with the director. Unfortunately the director, being a first time director, made some significant mistakes that hurt the final cut. Ultimately the film has a great and unique subject matter and I’m very proud of my work in it. It opened up a lot for me. Hopefully when people watch it they keep an open mind and see it for what it was originally intended to be; a tragic tale about a girl and her struggle in being stuck in a dogmatic world of her father who is an extremist in his cultural ways and her need to escape the traps of it all. Sahira is a strong and beautiful woman with so much potential and it’s literally ripped away from her.
MT- That was so much fun. I got to work with actors that were more accomplished than I. Jeremy London, Elisa Donovan, Katheryn Winnick, and the hilarious Darrell Hammond. We shot in NY for a month. It was sexy, something I’ve never done before, and I got more experience in being on set and dealing with independent film making, egos, and the different styles of acting. Each one of the actors used to reach each and every moment in their parts. Katheryn was ‘very’ in the moment, intense and doubting each choice and searching for more truth in he performance. Jeremy, very laid back and sure of his choices. Centered. Elisa was having fun playing a character she had never been given a chance to play before. And I had a ball being more myself and playful. Wanting so much not to make my character a cliché but human in why she made the choices she ultimately makes. She struggled with her own integrity and sexuality. This movie changed my career.
ED- You also starred in Spike TV’s ‘Crash and Burn’ , ‘Serving Sara’, and ‘Hollywood Homicide’. What were these experiences like for you?
MT- ‘Serving Sara’ was the first role I ever got, in a studio feature. It was very exciting. Getting to work with someone like Elizabeth Hurley at the time was a triumph. It gave me more confidence in knowing I could actually make a living as an actress.
‘Hollywood Homicide’ was cool because Harrison Ford got me a pasta salad. That was my first experience with a major celebrity where there was no pretense and just real work. No hierarchy.
‘Crash and Burn’ was more candy and fast cars. Loved sharing the screen with young Hollywood guys like Eric Palladino and David Moscow. Real cool cats.
ED- You were also in ‘The Prodigy’ with Holt Boggs, another great actor that we have interviewed in The Eerie Digest. How did you enjoy working with him.
MT -Holt is just a funny guy and made me laugh a lot. I’ll never forget the chance they took by casting me. I have a lot of respect for all those guys. Will Kaufman is a very talented director.
ED- Film is not your only venue, you have also performed on many well-known TV Shows such as CBS’s ‘CSI-NY’, ‘PunKd’ for MTV, NBC’s ‘Las Vegas’, and the STARZ production of ‘Crash’. This is truly amazing ! Please tell us about all of these.
MT- My favorite of those was ‘Las Vegas’. For multiple reasons. The major reason is I got to work with LeVar Burton. He is a level of artist that truly inspires and awesomes you. He is a legend. I’ve also never laughed so much on set. All the Italians in one place… Well you can imagine. Too funny!
MT- Lost is the most important role in my body of work. The episode is ranked one of the top shows of all time. It answered so many questions about Richard Alpert. And my character is key to the storyline. Being Richard’s wife has brought so much attention to me as an actress. I wasn’t aware that it would change the game, but I now have a greater fan base than ever before and I am ultimately grateful to Tucker Gates, the director, for guiding me and getting the performance he wanted. He knew exactly how to talk to me and it’s the best work of my career.
ED- You continue to train under the famed coach Allan Miller, please tell us all about him and his well known program.
MT- Allan is a real old Hollywood legend and anyone who trains with him has to have the cajones to withstand the challenges and curves he throws your way. He expects you to bring your ‘A’ game and will accept nothing less. He has pushed me and cared for me. Called me on my down times and has been on my team since day one.
ED- Mirelly, we have a number of students from Film Schools world-wide that read our magazine. Can you share some words of encouragement and inspiration with them ?
MT- Live for your dreams, stay true to who you are, keep your head out of the clouds and thank everyone along the way. No one is better than you and you are no better than anyone else, as a person. So respect respect, respect, and find the time to live outside of your career, it makes you more well rounded an individual.
I’ve kept a good balance between my career and my personal life. I just met my soul mate, Brian Tee, who is the kindest and most genuine person. He inspires me and supports me daily. We laugh. We take time for ourselves outside of our careers. That wouldn’t have happened if i had only been concentrating on my career. I’ve now opened myself up to a whole new me I’ve never known before because I’ve allowed this amazing man into my heart. My work will elevate and my career no doubt will soar because I’ve decided my life is not just about me anymore. It’s about us. And when that consciousness enters into my work undoubtedly I will have levels I didn’t know existed.
ED- Are their any new plans for you in the near future?
MT- I have ‘Terriers’ coming up. It’s a new show on FX starting in September.
ED- Mirelly, it is a true pleasure having you with us. By all means stay in contact with us as we know that all our readers will look forward to any new developments in your career. Many thanks again as it has been a real honor having this interview with you.
Thank you for including me in the Eerie Digest. Congrats and continued success.