In the midst of a historic Oscar campaign, Mya Taylor is remembering that it’s ok to sit down every once in a while. And sometimes, it’s in front of a packed audience, feet away from an icon.
Last night at the Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles, Caitlyn Jenner (along with Jay and Mark Duplass) hosted a screening of “Tangerine,” the 2015 Sundance hit that launched Taylor into the public consciousness.
Introducing the film, Baker emphasized Taylor’s natural ability, present at the outset of the project. When describing one of his first meetings with Taylor, Baker said, “There’s that aura, that persona before you even speak with that person, they’re saying, ‘I can be a star. Talk to me.'”
After the film finished, Jenner shared some thoughts with the gathered crowd inside one of the upstairs theaters. She began her remarks talking about the film’s power to educate. “For me,” Jenner said, “the movie was so educational. It had a lot of humor to it, but it was so brutally honest.”
Speaking about film, Taylor’s performance and its overall impact, Jenner continued, saying, “This is a process of education. We have a lot of momentum in the trans community, but we have to keep that momentum going. We have to bring this in front of the public.”
Jenner introduced Taylor, after which the newly-minted star asked the audience’s permission to add her remarks from the chair below the movie screen. “A lot of people don’t understand what it’s like to be a trans person or why we decide to be our authentic self,” Taylor said in thanking Jenner.
Taylor also expressed her gratitude to “Tangerine” director Sean Baker, co-writer Chris Bergosh and her co-star Kiki Rodriguez before sharing some of her own stories from before the film was a reality. “I was sitting at the bus stop, going on all these different job interviews. I applied for 186 jobs in one month. I did 26 interviews back-to-back and I did not get one job,” Taylor said, explaining that nothing led to success. “I wanted to be able to live a normal life just like everybody else. I tried so hard and I just said, ‘God, what am I doing wrong?’ But I guess God didn’t have that in the cards for me. He had this.”
For Taylor, one of the most important aspects of the film was retaining a sense of humor. “The whole story is depressing, when you think about it. But I didn’t want to see a theater full of sad people,” Taylor said. “I’ve had a very, very sad life. But how I get through it is I make fun of everything. Like, ‘Oh bitch, you fell down the stairs yesterday, girl! You remember that?’ Like, laugh about it!” she said with a knowing smile.
Once it was clear that Taylor would be more than just a consultant on the film and would, in fact, be one of those stars, she did not disappoint. “There was one day in one of those small rehearsal rooms on Santa Monica, down near Vine,” Baker explained, “and within the first ten minutes, Mya just blew me away…in terms of just her timing, her instinct, her wonderful wit during those improvisational moments.”
At the close of her statement, Taylor acknowledged the Duplass Brothers, standing off the side at the head of the room. “The last time I saw these two was at Sundance at a private party. And the last thing they said to me was, ‘We’re going to make you a star.'”
As she turned to look at them, the audience applauded. Whether it was them or Mya herself that made it happen, Taylor seems to be well on her way.