Q & A with Australian Actress Taylor Beadle-Williams

Actress Taylor Beadle-Williams
Actress Taylor Beadle-Williams shot by Sheldon Botler Photography

Whether it be in television, commercials, plays, or films, actress Taylor Beadle-Williams has proven herself to be quite the versatile talent through the plethora of roles she’s taken on in a variety of intriguing projects. Her ability to push herself to the limits in the craft of acting has distinguished her as one of the most talented actors working today.

In her recent film Clarity, Williams plays a blind photographer by the name of Celine. The character does not have any dialogue whatsoever, so Williams had to rely heavily on facial expressions in order to communicate without actually speaking a word, which is why she found this role to be a challenge, but an exciting one at that. In fact, in October of last year, the film was screened at the 59th BFI London Film Festival and grabbed the attention of the festival’s ambassador, Dame Helen Mirren, who expressed her delight with Williams’ performance being “amazingly believable and sensitive.”

Williams’ wonderful range extends to projects such as PLANS, a film series shot in 2014 and slated to be released at a number of film festivals, and online, later this year. Williams’ portrays Belle, a sociopath and lost soul who does just about anything she can to get by in life, even if it takes some manipulation to get what she desires. It’s currently Williams’ favorite role to date. The series also co-stars up-and-coming actors Rahel Romahn (The Principal, Alex & Eve) and recent AACTA nominee Alice Keohavang.

In addition to her film roles, Williams’ earlier work includes nearly a dozen commercials over the past couple years for brands such as Mazda, Hungry Jacks, Woolworths, Priceline, AboutLife and HCF among many others. However, her passion for film and her admiration for director Paul Kampf (From Grace) landed her a role in his 2014 independent film Amnesia: Who Are You?  

Williams’ jumped at the opportunity to be in such a fascinating film about a man suffering from amnesia and his attempt to piece together his fractured existence. The film went on to win an award for Best Dramatic Film at the 19th Annual IFS Festival in Los Angeles.

The dazzling actress recently wrapped up Stanley Joseph’s Love You Krishna, where she plays the role of Radhika, an angel who helps guide the lead character, Kris, through some family struggles. Having such a poignant premise and being such a pivotal role, Williams couldn’t wait to take on this character. The film is currently in post production and is slated to be released later this year.

To learn more about Taylor, check out her interview below and at http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2644984/ 

Where are you from? 

TBW: Although I was born in Sydney, Australia I grew up in Marrickville, which is near the city centre. I am actually a Kiwi because both of my parents are New Zealanders.

When and how did you get into acting?

TBW: I have always been a drama queen. I grew up in an entertainment household: my father is a well-known, established New Zealand singer, Mark Williams (currently the lead singer of the AUS/NZ band, Dragon), and my mother was a dancer, so the performing arts have always been in my veins.

During high school, which was a performing arts school, I started focusing on ballet and dance but I fell in love with acting, particularly after watching Joss Weadon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. It was the show’s script writing, storylines, themes, and of course, the female actors playing strong, independent, riveting characters that really struck me. I just had to be a part of that world. Buffy really enlightened me on what I could do with my life: to be an actor, to develop the potential to be anything I want – to whisk myself away from normality and put myself in another person’s shoes and experience different worlds. Although I still dance, acting took my heart and I have never looked back.

Can you tell us about some of the film projects you’ve done?

TBW: In Clarity, I play the leading role, Celine. Clarity was presented at the 59th BFI London Film Festival in October 2015 as part of Giorgio Armani’s “Films of City Frames” section. The chosen directors were briefed to create films inspired by real lives and told through the eyes and emotions of characters immersed in the reality of everyday life.

Clarity is about having a different outlook and a fresh perspective of something that has always been there right before your eyes. My character, Celine, is a blind French photographer and is critical to this film as we see Celine’s perspective on the small but important details in the city. As Celine is filmed, Clarity progresses sonically using the other main character’s, Emma, voice over. Playing a blind woman was intriguing, plus my character didn’t have any dialogue, so to be able to portray a story through actions and say so much, without actually speaking, gave me the chance to really use a wider range of expression. It was a fantastic challenge. At the screening of the film in London, my director, Chris Joys, was approached by the London Film Festival ambassador, Dame Helen Mirren, who described my performance to Mr. Joys as “amazingly believable and sensitive.” 

In Love You Krishna, I played Radhika. In 2013, while searching for the best actress to play one of the important “mistress” roles in his film production, Love You Krishna, writer/director of World Pictures Australia Stanley Joseph came across my body of work and immediately picked up the phone to contact me and see if I was interested in playing this significant role. I jumped at the chance, and it was then that our professional relationship, and friendship, began. Radhika is one of many angels’ who guides the leading character, Kris, through his journey of taking care of a family dealing with many struggles. Kris is a representative of Krishna, a worshipped Hindu deity, and I played one of his “mistresses/angels.” Love You Krishna is due for release later this year.

In early January, I attended the premiere of PLANS, which is a series that was shot in 2014 and will be released at various festivals and online later this year. I play Belle, one of seven lead roles. PLANS was written and directed by Do It Now Production founders, Peter-William Jamieson and Diana Popovska and is about seven young twenty something’s trying to find their own place in the world while living together. It confronts the everyday challenges and struggles facing this group: sexuality, relationships, guilt, grief, love and hate.

Belle is one of my favorite roles. A sociopath, Belle manipulates people, mostly men, to get her way. She is a lost woman, unsure of exactly what she wants in life so she uses other people as a means of controlling. Intelligent and sexy, Belle knows the power she has over people and knows how to work a room. Although, in some sense, she is aware of her control and manipulation, even Belle can surprise herself with her own power. She really disturbs a lot of the relationships in the series and causes some chaos. The series also stars recent AACTA nominee and Australian upcoming actor, Rahel Romahn (The Principal, Alex& Eve) who plays Zia, and AACTA nominee Alice Keohavong, who plays Belle’s arch-nemesis, Claire.

I also played Jeannine, in the US independent feature film, Amnesia: Who Are You?, directed by US filmmaker, Paul Kampf, which won the award for Best Dramatic Film at the 19th Annual IFS Festival in Los Angeles. Getting asked by producer, director, and writer Paul Kampf (who is now in partnership with Ted Field’s production company, Radar Pictures) was a real honor.

How about television projects?

TBW: The past 2 years have been a success: playing the lead in 10 Australian commercials for brands such as James Squire, Woolworths, Mazda 3, Telstra, Hungry Jacks, Priceline, Gravox, HCF, News.com.au, etc. This includes a cinema advertising commercial for Aboutlife. Shot as a music video, my role in the commercial was inspired by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. My character sings about the opening of a new AboutLife store in Surry Hills (Sydney suburb) spoofing “The Hills are Alive” song. In September 2014, I also played a role in the Sims 4.

I also played the guest role, Ginette, in the Channel 9 TV series Tricky Business, which co-starred Lincoln Lewis and Anthony Starr.

They are all very different, what made you choose to participate in these projects?

TBW: Diversity is a gift not many actors, or people for that matter, get to experience. There is nothing more exciting than being in someone else’s shoes for even a day or so, to trample in their footsteps and lose yourself to your own imagination. It’s exciting, it’s dynamic, and it’s creative. The best part is trying to find “yourself” in those characters, to still have the essence of you. That helps to bring truth to your roles, so they are well-rounded and 3-dimensional.

You get approached all the time to work on projects with people, what makes you pick one role over another?

TBW: I love a challenge. I am a go-getter when it comes to finding a character that I can really delve into. I do not want to be put into a hole – variety is my passion. I have to see how much I can push my acting chops to the edge while maintaining a grounded life. I must never let life imitate art with some of my roles; it’s too dangerous especially when my last three stage roles were a drug addict, a prostitute, and a burlesque fan dancer!

Also, if the writing isn’t great, then I usually won’t bother going ahead with a project. Although, I can be a professional and do my best to give every role a decent go, but ultimately, if you are let down by the script then the whole project will go down, and the end result can really be disheartening.

You’ve also performed in several theatre productions over the years, can you tell us what you personally feel are some of the difference between performing in the theatre and acting on screen? Which one do you prefer and why?

TBW: I have been involved in a lot of theatre, my most favorite productions being two seasons of the Black Box Production of Trainspotting, one in Sydney, the other in Port Kembla, in which I played the only female in a cast of four. The production did not receive one negative review. In September 2014, I also performed in a new independent theatre production for Sydney Fringe Festival 2014, called Ambrosia, with Grumpy Mandrakes Theatre.

I love the flamboyancy of theatre. A mistake a lot of actors fall into is getting bored by theatre because of the repetition, but I find that is the beauty of theatre – to explore more and more, and develop more. Just like people, a character is never “finished,” there is always more to find, always more to give, and that is a gift shared with yourself as an actor, and with other actors performing with you. Keep it exciting!

The process of screen is a lot like theatre, with rehearsals and explorations of character being important in the growth of every character. The real difference between the two is how big your performance is. The screen accentuates EVERYTHING, so actions and speeches are better delivered minimally when in front of the camera. Less is more on screen, and it is this challenge that makes me prefer theatre. It’s easy to go over-the-top in theatre and screen, but harder to control it in screen.

What has been your favorite project so far and why?

TBW: Both Trainspotting and PLANS have been my most favorite projects as I was really pushed to the edge with both – completely out of my comfort zones. To explore characters and world’s so different to my own really got my heart racing.

What as been your most challenging role?

TBW: I played multiple characters in Trainspotting. Alison was my main character. Alison comes across as headstrong, experimental and aggressive, but she is still a little girl lost in a big boy’s world. She is a junkie; she has lost her grip because of heroin, and is always on a quest for a distraction from her hum-drum life. Alison’s journey starts with experiencing pain and loss, then learning to forgive herself, and move on, finding her feet, making amends with herself, and getting revenge in every aspect of her life.

I also played pregnant June (a lonely, insecure woman, hopeless in her efforts to control her macho and abusive boyfriend, Franco); Lizzie (a sexy and fiery lassie with a short fuse); Lassie (another physical abuse victim); as well as other characters.

I enjoyed playing the multiple roles, although it was difficult at first to tweak each character’s own little niche and differences and to switch rapidly from one character to another during the show.

Besides the Scottish accent being the main challenge, being the only woman actor in the play means all the heavy subject matter falls directly on my head. I play a number of female characters, all of whom are victims. They all suffer under this machismo society, and each have to deal with it in their own way. Also, with regards to the graphic content of the play, particularly dealt with by my central character, Alison, it is sometimes difficult to tap into such emotions when her experiences have been so different from my own, but what I have realized is that this is it – this is their life – it is all they know.

What is your favorite genre to work in as an actor?

TBW: Comedy comes naturally, as I’m a quirky person, but drama is something I’ve worked hard at and therefore am getting better and better with each role I play. Crying on cue is always a challenge though! I would LOVE to be in a psychological thriller though. Or be slashed to death in a horror film. Oh, the dreams of actors!

What separates you from other actors? What are your strongest qualities?

TBW: My strongest qualities are:

– My patience and tireless efforts when it comes to character development. When I commit to something, I do it 1000%.

– My look – having an exotic “no-one can tell where you come from” appearance benefits me in picking up various roles. I love pushing for characters of all ethnicities and accents.

– I have a natural calmness, serenity and warmth to my acting too, however that is sometimes difficult to shake off when I am trying to play someone rough – take Belle in PLANS, or Alison in Trainspotting, for example.

– You have got to know how to laugh at yourself. I can never take myself too seriously, and, luckily for me, I can break out of character after the day is over, go home, and watch some trashy TV or read a book. I get so involved with each character that I HAVE to have some time to switch off. Not all actors can do that, and it really ticks me off. You cannot be too serious in this business or you will really be disappointed.

What projects do you have coming up?

TBW: Love You Krishna will be released later this year, and the series PLANS is being submitted to festivals this year, as well.

What are your plans for the future?

TBW: Travel, volunteer in Africa at a conservation reserve, and move to the States to continue my career as an actress. Those are my immediate plans. Until I achieve the latter, I will keep building my status here in Australia.

What do you hope to achieve in your career as an actor?

TBW: Success without the invasion of privacy, but that can be very tricky. Also, I want to be able to maintain that success, which can also be very tricky. This industry is very fickle and as long as you can laugh about it and you have a fantastic support system around you, then you’ll be just fine.

And to continue to be diverse in my characters – I applaud actors like Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet and Rose Byrne, who are able to completely transform with every character they play, yet still keep that essence of themselves within their role.

And I would love to play the lead in a psychological thriller and in a biopic.

Why is acting your passion and chosen profession?

TBW: Because I am a child at heart, I have to keep playing and having fun. A 9 to 5 p.m. desk job just won’t cut it for me. I was a wild child when I was young, and I still (to some degree) am.

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