“There’s a surreal nature to be involved in something that has had a profound impact on a profound large of people…I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude.”

– Taylor Schilling

Imagista talks to the actor Taylor Schilling about life after the groundbreaking Netflix hit, “Orange Is The New Black”

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Imagista: Ok, so how about we talk about “Orange” first and then get into some other topics? How does it feel now that “Orange” is wrapped, to say goodbye to that chapter of your life?

Taylor Schilling: You know, it feels enlivening. There’s a surreal nature to be involved in something that has had a profound impact on a large number of people. I think I have a better perspective on the scope of “Orange” now than I ever have. I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude. I think that’s how I feel. It feels ready to be over, from my perspective. I’m not a creator on the show but in my capacity as an actor it feels like it was a really good run. And it feels really exciting, and the world feels different. It feels exciting to be able to see the horizon again. For seven years the rhythm of one’s life was around the TV show. We’d have six months to eight months in production and then six to eight months off. So there was this built in rhythm.

So it’s so wild and exciting now to just be able to see the horizon. It feels like the possibilities are limitless again. It’s very exciting.

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Imagista: In terms of moving forward and your future how are you approaching things? Are you a goal setter, are you more intuitive, or are you a combination of the two?

Taylor Schilling: I have a sense of what I want to do next but it’s a pretty strange mix. I can have a sense of directors, or stories, or parts I want to work with or bring to life. But I also have this very strong belief that the part will find me. I try to listen more than plan and to listen and to pay attention to the signs. What is also a part of figuring out what comes next is experiencing life as deeply as I can.

Dress by Warm @warm_ny. Belt by Jill Stuart @jillstuart. Earrings by Gimaguas @gimaguas

Imagista: A few of your friends and peers from “Orange” have gotten into directing. Is that something that appeals to you as well or might you want to write or produce eventually?

Taylor Schilling: I don’t have that much of an interest in directing television. I do have colleagues on the show who are just brilliant directors and I’m really excited about that.

More than anything right now I’m curious about creating a container for work to happen and that looks more like producing to me. I’m interested in finding stories and voices that I can amplify. That feels very exciting to me.

I really enjoy messing around with character. It’s really fun for me. It also feels necessary for me. It feels necessary in a way that producing or writing doesn’t feel as much.

I’m exploring my own writing in ways that I haven’t done before. It is so difficult for me to express myself, as I want to, through the written word. And I’m writing more than I ever have. It feels like an important exercise even though I don’t know what will happen with it. 

I’m writing for myself. Writing is like another way for me to listen to myself and to make it easier to hear what’s going on. So that’s what my writing has been like, as of late, and I don’t know what that will parlay into. I think there’s a lot of value in not knowing for me and then allowing for things to happen on their own.

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Imagista: You like to read a lot right? What are you reading at the moment and do you have some recommendations?

Taylor Schilling: There’s this writer named Rachel Cusk. I’m just starting to read her. She has a trilogy of novels. The first one is called “Outline”, the second one is called “Transit” and the third one is called  “Kuddos”. I’ve been really enjoying those novels. Rachel has a really piercing insights and I’m really struck by her prose. She’s also brilliant with structure. She structures things in an unprecedented way. She writes beautiful stuff.

I’ve also been spending more time with poetry than I have in the past. I’m the kind of person who will go into a bookstore and see what literally with jump out at me. There’s a poet called Ariana Reines that I’ve found mind-blowing lately. I also just re-read the “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho which is a classic and that’s been helpful. There’s another poet who I’ve found very transformative named Ada Limon.

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Imagista: In terms of music, what are you into these days and what did you grow up listening to?

Taylor Schilling: I grew up with a lot of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell being played in my house. That’s where I learned to find my people.

Imagista: What is front and center for you right now, in terms of projects?

Taylor Schilling: I’m being more cautious now than I’ve ever been. I spent several years making a variety of different films. Right now what’s front and center for me is  waiting for the right thing that feels great. I think It’s necessary to take beat (break) when you become so identified with a character. I think it might require a moment, a reset, both for me and for other people. I am incredibly determined to keep working in new ways. I think what I’m doing is taking a minute to ready myself for that.

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Imagista: I can’t even begin to imagine how intense being on a show like “Orange” for so long. It wasn’t like you were staring in some lighthearted sitcom. 

Taylor Schilling: No, and I think it takes time to sorta exorcise all of it.

In addition to the subject matter that was on-screen there’s this whole scaffolding that creates the container for that work to happen. And leaving that behind and dismantling that way of being and allowing new structures to emerge. All of that takes a second. My greatest fear right now would be to inadvertently start building on an old foundation. And then to drag that into what I do next creatively. It feels really important to me to cleanse the palate because it was such an integral part of my life.”Orange” absolutely changed my life and it changed a lot of things. It’s vital for me to it go and to make sure it’s fully gone before I start something new. Yeah, my greatest fear would be to pull this past into my next chapter.

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Imagista: What, if anything, are you going to miss about life in and around “Orange”?

Taylor Schilling: Without a doubt what I will miss the most is the people. That was what remained consistent throughout. Even as the show changed dramatically, and as writers changed, and storylines changed, and characters changed, there was a real core band of comrades and I’ll be forever grateful for that. That will never go anywhere. That core group that went through this wild process together. That’s what I’ll miss without a doubt.

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Photography by Tina Turnbow @tina_turnbow
Makeup by Tina Turnbow using @ogee
Styled by Cristina Ehrlich @cristinaehrlich
Styling by Jared Depriest Gilbert @jaredddepriest
Hair by Marco Santini @ _marcosantini1  for @ionstudionyc
Imagista @imagista