New interview and video of Taylor Schilling from Vogue
Lately, Taylor Schilling has been starting her days writing. About a year ago, the 33-year-old actress and star of Orange Is the New Black realized that setting aside time in the morning just to write—no goal, no agenda, no word count—tuned her in for the rest of the day. “I’m finding that if I wake up and write out whatever is clogging up my thinking—fears, worries, whatever it is—that by the time I’m done writing, I’m a little more focused on what I want to have happen, instead of what I’m afraid of.”
Schilling feels her best in the morning—“I love the freshness of a new day”—and she relishes those moments to herself when time stands still: eating breakfast, writing, and drinking tea in her Brooklyn home. “It sets me up and focuses me on what I’m curious about,” she says. “Kind of tosses the external stuff that’s not as important and connects me to my values, and what matters.”
What matters to the Emmy-nominated actor these days—while she films the sixth season of Orange Is the New Black—is using her talents to make an impact. It can be anything from voicing concerns on behalf of her peers to calling lawmakers about issues she’s passionate about, or even babysitting a friend’s child. “That’s really a go-to way for me to feel beautiful, when I’m making some kind of contribution,” she says, reflectively. “It’s part and parcel of feeling beautiful. Yes, I feel incredibly beautiful when my skin is gorgeous, and after I’ve exercised and I’ve been eating in a clean way; or when I’m ready to go out for an evening—I love that stuff. But that can be more hit-or-miss in terms of an internal feeling of real power or beauty. It’s the physical part lined up with my own power.”
When Schilling was little, around the same time she saw community theater productions which inspired her to pursue acting, she felt beauty in physical triumphs such as when she could win a race against her brother or do a swing flip on the monkey bars. “I felt impenetrable,” she says. “I think that’s my earliest recollection of beauty. That feeling of attractiveness, and feeling magnetic and confident. And then it shifted a little bit,” she admits. “But I try to remember that and use it as a touchstone for what beauty means to me. I was embodied, inside of myself. I felt confident and ready to go.” This is where Genaissance de La Mer— a time-reversing formulation born from the crystals in a castoff beaker in the La Mer lab—and Schilling’s perspective meet: an understanding that there’s beauty and strength to be found in the unassuming, seemingly unremarkable moments every day.
Schilling refers back to that feeling of being grounded in her body as she continues to garner acclaim in a field where painting on a persona is part of the gig. “I can put on as many layers of shellac as I want, but my belief is that you can’t really fool anybody,” she says. “And what I love about Orange is that it celebrates all of that inside stuff. It’s made me bolder in my own life. It’s taught me that it’s not about seeking approval.” It’s also made her more forthcoming with the people who inspire her. “I’ve started doing this thing where I write to people whose work I love—writers, artists—sometimes just to offer gratitude or appreciation. It’s helpful,” she says, “And it’s kind of fun to write fan mail.”