If Teyana Taylor’s emotional performance in “A Thousand and One” feels palpable, it is for good reason.
The film sees the singer break away from roles that have cast her as the funny and unabashedly vocal around-the-way girl and instead stretches her acting abilities to portray a mother who knows no bounds when trying to build a better life for her and her child.
To say that it breaks the mold of what audiences have come to know her as is an understatement. But the multitalented artist has been preparing for this moment.
“I was ready to take it on cause it was something that I always wanted [after] all the other roles that I’ve done,” she told Yahoo! Entertainment in a March 30 interview.
The actress has appeared in a handful of films such as “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” “The Trap” opposite comedian Mike Epps, and most recently “Coming 2 America” with Eddie Murphy.
But “A Thousand and One” is special according to audiences at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where the 32-year-old received praise for the film.
“I always wanted to just be taken more serious, you know what I’m saying? I feel like this put me in a position for a person to never second guess when they hear my name,” Taylor said of the role.
In the Hillman Grad-produced production, Taylor plays Inez, a formerly incarcerated mother who kidnaps her six-year-old son from foster care.
Taylor knows motherhood. She and husband Iman Shumpert share two daughters, Iman Tayla Shumpert Jr., 7, and baby girl Rue Rose Shumpert, who turned two last September.
“It was definitely emotional,” said the Harlem native. “I was actually six months postpartum when we started working on ‘A Thousand and One.’ So I was dealing with literal postpartum depression.”
The “Rose in Harlem” singer continued, “And in the midst of dealing with postpartum depression, I lost a lot of my childhood friends. [I was] back home to film and then come to find out that a lot of [my] childhood has been erased. That was a lot, emotionally.”
In its own way, escaping into Inez’s world was a cathartic experience. “I was able to cry out loud for once,” revealed the former choreographer.
“I think I hadn’t been able to do that because when you’re a super mom, that’s all your kids see you as, you’re a superhero all day, every day. So going to the set every day, I was able to put my cape to the side, have my therapy session and just cry out loud.”
The “We Got Love Teyana & Iman” star added that some of her “quiet battles” and struggles were poured into Inez, allowing the character’s pain and her own to humanize them both.
“And I think that’s what made it so real and authentic because every single emotion was real. Every single tear was real. Every single scram was real. Every single emotion was real,” she noted.
“A Thousand and One” is out now.