Teyana Taylor’s Dreams Come True with ‘A Thousand and One’

by Sophia Chen
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This Easter Sunday, many churches will share a special saying that reminds people that sometimes God works in His own time. Teyana Taylor is living proof of this.

The actor of “A Thousand and One” said that sometimes during the day he needs to stop and give thanks to God. He also explained that the wait wasn’t something bad, it was all part of God’s plan preparing him for something better.

A.V. Rockwell’s movie, “A Thousand and One” won the grand jury prize at Sundance this year. It is a story about Inez (Taylor), a woman living in New York City, and her 6-year-old son Terry, portrayed by three actors at different stages of life. The story begins when Inez gets released from Rikers Island jail in 1994.

Inez secretly takes her son, Terry, out of foster care. The movie follows their tough journey to survive in New York while trying not to draw attention. As Terry is close to finishing school, a life-changing secret threatens to break his relationships with his mother.

Taylor was well-known for her fashion and dance moves as well as creating R&B music like “Gonna Love Me (Remix)”, “Maybe”, and “Morning”. In 2021, she unexpectedly decided to step away from the music industry after feeling not appreciated by it. Even though she had achieved a lot of success, before that only little roles or guest appearances in TV and movies.

Taylor said, when people saw her in movies that involve dancing or singing they raised a question: can she act out characters perfectly like Inez? So, Rockwell gave Taylor the chance to prove it.

Rockwell is originally from Jamaica, Queens and she loves films made by Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese. After studying filmmaking at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, she started making short films.

Press “shift” and “question mark” to get a list of keyboard shortcuts. Sam Rockwell, the writer of the movie, said that what kept him motivated during his work on the film was the desire to reach people, heal them, and help them connect with each other. After reaching his aim, he is gratefully thankful for it.

“A Thousand and One” is not a story that ends well. Inez has to do her very best just to look after herself and Terry, even though it’s tough for them to make money. This problem is especially hard for Black women, because even today, they are often treated as if they don’t exist and don’t get any help. When Rockwell wrote the film, people didn’t shout “Protect Black Women” the way they do now, but the message was still there.

Rockwell said, “We fight a lot and protect others, but who is there to protect us? Who will give us the love and support we need without any conditions? Even though we have superhero traits, at the end of the day, we are all human beings. Inez’s journey is here to remind us of this.”

The city in the movie is an important character, and it changes a lot throughout the film. The story follows what was happening in New York City from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s during Mayor Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg’s time in office. During this time period, Black and brown people were unfairly affected by police brutality and laws like ‘stop and frisk’. On top of all that, gentrification took away neighborhoods they called home. The movie uses real audio clips to give evidence of these things.

In recent years, cities like Houston, New Orleans, Brooklyn, and Detroit went through a big change where places that were historically home to Black Americans got drastically altered. The film “125th & Lex” is named after an apartment in Harlem which was the location of lots of important events shared by two characters called Inez and Terry.

Sam Rockwell said that it’s important to celebrate what makes Harlem different from New York City and also protect it because it has a special meaning, not only to New Yorkers but also to the African American identity and heritage.

Taylor is starting to get ready for the movie about Dionne Warwick’s life and she was chosen by Dionne herself. Taylor also mentioned that making music again is still something she would love to do since that was her first love in life.

She doesn’t like to be limited, comparing her artistic expression to a Glade Plugin – you can plug it into any room and instantly the air will become fresher. She wants to focus on acting now. She hopes that this movie shows the world that Black women and children are often forgotten and ignored, and she can understand why that is.

Taylor said that she and other Black women are struggling to be noticed, accepted and valued. She also added that she put all of her sadness, pain and frustration into one character named Inez because they had faced similar experiences like feeling ignored, unappreciated and unrecognized.

If you want to keep track of Associated Press entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton, be sure to find him on Twitter, Instagram and other social media @GaryGHamilton.

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