Here’s a new interview of Taylor Schilling with Parade
From Parade – Schilling spoke with Parade about her experience working on The Public and what its messages say about the world today.
How would you describe The Public, as well as your role in the film?
The genius of Emilio’s script is that he’s able to combine and alchemize so many issues that are happening right now and are probably more relevant at this point than when he even wrote it. The intersectionality of what he covers—the infringement upon our civil liberties, the homelessness crisis, poverty, militarization of the police, to name a few—coalesce in the story he tells over this one night in a public library in Cincinnati. Among many meaty parts, he wrote my character, Angela. What I love about Angela is that she’s a quintessential example of an ally. She beautifully puts aside her own story to make room and amplify the story that most desperately needs to be told. She’s a great role model in that way. It’s a great recipe in how to be an ally: Step out of the way and amplify the voice of the voiceless.
It’s interesting when you talk about all of this timeliness, given the fact The Public comes out only a couple of months after a Chicago woman housed more than 100 homeless people in a hotel during a deep freeze this past winter.
You’re right! That goes to show what I’m talking about.
What are your feelings about the use of a public library as a central location for the uprising in this film?
The Public highlights the importance of the libraries as a cultural institution, as a place where people can gather. It’s a democratization of information, a place where everyone is equal and welcome. It’s a sacred space within our society. I’ve been calling it one of the last bastions of democracy-in-action. Until I read this script, I wasn’t as acutely aware of it. A library is democracy-in-action. Information is available to all. Gabrielle [Union’s] character in this film represents the media and how our opinions can be shaped and sculpted by the interests of folks intending to create clickbait rather than further voice the truth.
A library is so interesting because it’s a place where you can create your own opinions and preach your understanding of the world. And it’s available to everyone. People who may not have access to the internet or cable get to use this public service that makes space for us all to be informed citizens and actively participate in our democracy. On many levels, it’s just so important. Anyone can go without having to barter with money. Your wealth doesn’t weight your worth. Alec keeps saying in these interviews, “There’s no first class cabin in a library. Everyone is a part; everyone belongs.”
On those notes of equality, what do you feel the film says about homelessness, and the disparity of wealth in the world?
I think one of the things this movie does so beautifully is that it clarifies the notion that homelessness is not a condition; it’s a situation. There is a myriad of reasons someone could lose their lease. We “otherize” homelessness, addiction and mental illness, when it’s all a hair’s breadth away. People you may have preconceived notions of who are dealing with homelessness are individuals with very human stories that we all need to be cognizant of.
Poverty marginalizes people away from resources. There isn’t enough mental health treatment. We talk about the opioid crisis in the film, and the lack of resources to get people the help they need creates a spin that often ends up with homelessness or incarceration. It’s a self-fulfilling move. A lot of times, mental illness stems from untreated trauma. There are far more spaces for untreated trauma to come up in the chaos and danger of living far below the poverty level. It’s a systemic issue. The film makes it clear that these are people in situations who desperately need attention. We’re all human beings. There’s no “other.” It’s people who had access to one fewer thing than you or I did. You turn the dial one degree, and this is the reality you’re living in.
What was your experience working with Emilio, who was so involved with every element of the production process?
Just amazing. Emilio is such a brilliant guy. I was blown away by the script. He clearly loves actors, and it’s such a joy to work with someone who has such deep respect for the group that he’s created. He was such an example on the set of respecting everyone involved. He’s an incredible storyteller, and that is clearly illustrated by the fact he’s able to tell it from a producer, director and actor perspective.
How do the personal elements in the library in The Public compare to what happens in the prison system in Orange is the New Black?
At a base level, they’re both taking urgent issues happening within our society right now and putting them in narrative form in a brilliant way. By turning it into a story and putting it in the hands of very capable directors and actors, they take issues that could be “otherized” by the media, far outside the orbit of someone’s personal life, and humanize them. They make them relevant, real and immediately accessible.
Speaking of which, any preview you want to give to the final season of Orange is the New Black coming later this year?
I’m so proud of it. I think it’s a really great season, and I think it’s a special way to leave it all.