Most people have a laundry list of excuses for why they still haven’t written that Oscar-worthy screenplay or launched a tech start-up (especially during the pandemic) but Teyana Taylor definitely isn’t one of them. The prolific director, singer-songwriter, dancer, and actor seems to have never even heard the term “preventing burnout,” having played Bopoto Izzi in the much-lauded Coming 2 America sequel opposite Wesley Snipes and Eddie Murphy, secured the role of Dionne Warwick in the upcoming biopic of the singer’s life, and collected two BET awards for Video Director of the Year — and that’s just in the last 12 months. Not to mention, she just had her second child with husband Iman Shumpert. Feeling tired yet?
“It’s a 24-hour workout,” Taylor reveals to TZR about her hectic schedule. And despite all of the limitations over the last year, downtime isn’t really an option for the multi-hyphenate 30-year-old. “My shower is the closest thing I get to really have some downtime. [It’s] one of my favorite places to be, unless [my 5-year-old daughter] Junie comes storming in — but she’s actually really calm in the shower.”
Like many busy working moms, she says that her daily shower is the one place where she can reset — mentally, emotionally, and physically — before rushing off to set for one of her various projects. “It’s my place to be able to sit down and relax and just get into my self-care and make sure my skin, my hair, my body, everything is in the right place. The shower literally, [is where] you'll be able to let off some steam for sure.”
Furthering her devotion to the practice, Taylor has even partnered with Olay Body for its Olay Body Collection with Retinol to stock her shower with all the products she needs to keep her skin looking and feeling its best (seriously, have you seen her glow lately?). Although she keeps the entire collection stocked, she reveals it’s the Body Conditioner in particular that keeps her skin extra smooth and shiny when she’s on set for a video. “You pat dry — don’t wipe it off — and you’re good to go. [It] really tops it off and your skin is really soft and really smooth. It's not one of them things that smells good for five minutes and then it wears off.
Keep reading to find out more about the beauty secrets Taylor has learned over her 15+ years in the entertainment industry, the mantra she still tells herself before getting in front of or behind the camera, and her ultimate piece of advice for a life well-lived.
You've been in the entertainment industry for so long — about half your life. Do you ever get nervous or experience fear when you're about to start a new project?
Absolutely. It's crazy because, I mean, I'm always nervous. I don't think anybody really knows, but when I was on tour and everything I got nervous before every single show. But it's something about when the curtains open and it's time to go, it's time to go. That's how I go into everything. Whether it's directing, acting, singing — I go into everything nervous until I yell ‘action,’ the curtains open, anything. It's go time at that point. But yes, I am still very much nervous, especially on set.
Sometime I'll be so in my head, I'm like, ‘Girl, relax.’ I'll know my words and will completely go blank. So I have to sometimes just reset myself and take a breather. There's a lot when you're wearing so many different hats.
Do you have a personal mantra that you repeat to get into that head space?
You got this. That's what I always tell myself. You got this, because if you didn't, you wouldn't have been blessed with this opportunity. You got it. It's yours. You come, you see, you conquer. It's okay to even [say] it out loud. Sometimes I literally say to myself, ‘girl, pick it up, come on, man.’ Have those conversations with yourself and just uplift yourself because sometimes it's not [working] to hear it from everybody else. You have those moments where it's just you in that room. Learn how to actually have [those] conversations with yourself — I think that is very important.
Now that you're an award-winning director, would you rather be in front of or behind the camera?
I love being behind the camera. I love being able to be like this [in sweats], and just chill and put on my glasses and really dial in. I love focusing on others. I love helping others. I have a strong love for being in front of it, too, because I enjoy directing myself as well. So I guess it's kind of 50/50. But imagine being able to just roll out of bed and be like, ‘Oh, perfect. I'm just directing the video today. I ain't got to put on no makeup. I don't got to get glammed up.’ [laughs] Just get up, get dressed, and go.
You're set to star as Dionne Warwick in the new biopic. Have you gotten a chance to meet her, talk to her? What are you doing to prep to play such an icon?
I'm just learning her. We get to talk on Zoom a lot. I may not know how to work it, but the beauty of Zoom is really getting to see her and talk to her. I'm just at the stage where I'm asking a lot of questions, wanting to know how she wants her story to be told, because I think that that should always be respected when you're preparing to play someone, and to bring their stories to life. It's very important to make sure that they're comfortable and that you're doing it the right way. So that's where we are right now — just getting everything together. I'm excited.
The resemblance is really uncanny. You look so much like her.
I know. I had to call my mom. I was like, ‘Mom, you got something you want to tell me? You ain't tell me Ms. Dionne was my auntie, girl. You ain't tell me that.
What have you felt the most grateful for over the last 12 months?
Honestly, I feel grateful for just being alive, being able to live for my kids, being able to live for my family, my loved ones. Being able to live just in general. Feeling blessed and highly favored is something to definitely be grateful for. To believe in the power of God is just amazing because I'm so grateful. I just want to make sure I always remember that my God is the reason why I'm blessed, on top of my hard work, because he ain't going to throw nothing in your lap. Ain't nothing going to come easy. But your blessing, your life, your plan is already written for you before it even happens. It was just my job and my journey to get there.
Is there anything else that you do to wind down from a long day of filming or work in general?
Baby, I got kids — two of them — and I'm the cool aunt, so not only do I have my kids, but I have my nieces and nephews and the whole gang. So there's literally no such thing as wind down time. I'm childish just like them. If anything, I'm right there indulging in what the heck they got going on. Always in Target with them, always getting a whole bunch of toys, and they'd be the ones complaining when they're all over the place.
But honestly, if it ain't the shower, me and my husband, we'll try to take a bath, and then Junie be like, ‘Can I get in the bath?’ She come in the bath and splashing water. But I love it. I enjoy it. There's not a complaint in the world. Being a mom, an actress, a singer, a director — when it's so much going on, there's not really much time to be like, ‘Okay, I'm going to wind down.’ So you got to appreciate that shower. Appreciate those baths with hubby.
Since you've been in a hair and makeup chair for so many years, what is the best beauty advice you've received from your time in the industry?
As far as hair, I had a hairstylist [who] would literally kiss my scalp [after] we would massage my scalp with whatever oils he was using. That was when my hair was the healthiest. The way he used so much care and [put so much] passion into it... the hair was being loved. The scalp was being loved. It was getting the blood flowing and different things like that.
Same thing with makeup. I had a few makeup artists that were really giving me a whole face massage. Oh my God, it feels so good — getting the blood flowing. A lot of people that do a great job at what they do, that really love what they do, it's bigger than just slapping some makeup on you, or slapping some curls in your hair. You know? They're really passionate. So that's what I learned. You might only have a half hour or only two minutes [for] self-care, but take that two minutes and really do it and really put passion and feeling into it — into everything — because the mind and body is soul.
What is your best piece of advice for a life well-lived?
A life well-lived is putting your happiness first. That's important because, right now, we are in a place and time where social media, it's almost everybody's end all, be all. So somebody can say something about you, and you —the actual person — say it's not true, but to them, the lie sounds better than the truth. So they're going to go with the lie. [But] never stop being you. Be you unapologetically and live for you. Live for your loved ones and the people that really give a damn. You know what I'm saying? Block everything out, any type of negative energy, block it out. Don't even let it in, not even a little bit.