Tayla Schaffner started acting when she was only 10 years old. At the age of 18, she packed her bags and jetted off to study at the New York Film Academy.
Over her two-year journey at the school, she was cast in a total of 17 student directed films, including the Off-Broadway Production of Antigone by Sophocles in which she played the lead at The Majorie S. Theater in Times Square.
Taking everything she learnt, Tayla threw all her time and energy into her latest offering, the movie, When It Rains, proving herself worthy of international standards.
The film went on to win the award for Best Drama Short at the Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival.
What sparked this desire to got to New York to study, rather than try break into the industry here in South Africa?
“The plan was always to stay in SA and attend UCT, I had already been accepted and had one more round of auditions to go. I was so passionate about UCT and in my mind, that was where I would go. However, upon getting news that I was accepted to study overseas, my father said your plan was always to get to that side eventually, I’m not sure if an opportunity like this will arrive again, so I took it.”
How did you get involved with ‘When It Rains’ – tell me about this journey?
“For university, I needed to do a Thesis Project. So, this film was my graduating task. It is a beautiful and sad story, about pain, loss and suffering. We all want to be heard and be in control of our own lives and not have someone dictate it to us. This journey was draining, grueling yet so rewarding. When we wrapped at 4am the morning after shooting, I was packing my car and it began to rain… In the middle of summer, in Los Angeles, a very rare sight to see. It was the most moving moment I have experienced; my message was heard and it was beautiful.”
If you could choose one thing, stage (theatre) or movies – which would you choose or which do you prefer?
“I can’t answer that question. I never want to choose between the two and I will never have to. Art has no limits, whether it be on the screen or stage, we all have something to say. If someone hears it and is impacted by it, then my job is done, no matter what platform I use.”
What do you feel is lacking in the SA Entertainment industry?
“I don’t know the ins and outs of SA Showbiz because I have been here studying this side. So, it would be ignorant of me to try pretend to know a side I really don’t. I see no problem in the SA Industry.”
Any plans to work with our local talent?
“That has always been the plan, to come to this side of the world and gain the experience from the best and bring it back home to anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to get the opportunity like me; it would be selfish of me not to share it.”
What are your plans going forward?
“I plan to continue working hard, with my current play that I am in called, “F*cked Up Fairytales” which just debuted on June 10th at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Lots more is in the woodworks, let’s see.”
Who are your favourite actors and why?
“My favorite actress is Viola Davis. She is able to move you to the point of shivering with her dedicated vulnerability. She is the only person I can say is completely naked emotionally when she performs, and that to me is the true essence. She is a fierce and admirable woman.”
If you couldn’t do acting, what would you do?
“There’s no plan B for me, I won’t let this not work out. If I have to eat ramen and orange juice for the rest of my life, to do what I love, I will.”