New interview of Taylor Schilling with The Oprah Magazine
From Oprah Magazine
It’s Taylor Schilling’s goal to give unsung heroes a voice.
She’s done just that in her portrayal of the queer and rather unlucky prison inmate Piper Chapman on Netflix’s Emmy award-winning show, Orange Is the New Black, which comes to an end later this year. And it’s what she’s hoping to do with Family, her latest dark comedy released April 19.
“The stories that speak to me the most always celebrate otherness and create a human narrative around characters we otherwise find on the margins, bringing them closer to home and making the unacceptable more acceptable,” Schilling tells OprahMag.com. “That journey is what’s exciting at this point in my life—bridging the gap between us and them, even in small ways.”
What about this script caught your attention?
I heard that a woman wrote it and I was totally blown away. Laura Steinel really wrote something that was so unique from anything I’d seen before. My character, Kate, is a woman that doesn’t get a lot of airtime, a female that doesn’t get a lot of space to breathe in many stories that I read. And it was so funny. I laughed while reading the script, which is always a really great sign. I desperately wanted to do it.
Kate is overworked and unhappy. Were those the traits that compelled you to want to play her?
I believe that Kate doesn’t value domesticity, she doesn’t value a lot of softness, she doesn’t value a lot of what we deem as typically feminine. I think there was so little space for her to be herself that that went inwards and turned into a lot of self-loathing. We watch her make space for who she really is by falling in love with her niece, who is so unique and so much of an outsider. That was moving to me and very relatable. Laura captured someone who’s in the midst of struggle. She doesn’t value being a sex object or being desired. She wants to work, she wants to win.
Often, female characters at work in films wear pencil skirts and tight clothing. Kate’s wardrobe is fitted, however, it’s masculine and a little disheveled, which was refreshing to see.
Yes, she’s the definition of burnout. I would say she’s 180-degrees the opposite of that. She’s not taking care of herself physically, she’s not taking care of herself emotionally, she’s not taking care of herself spiritually. Her body is just a mode to transport her brain around. You don’t see many women that are not acting to be liked in some capacity. There is no part of Kate that’s acting to be liked or accepted and she’s the lead of the movie. I think it’s quite radical.
Why is that radical?
Often times a note you get is, this person needs to be more likeable, particularly this woman. We managed to make a movie has nothing to do with this woman being likeable. And I don’t quite know how that got pulled off. And it still stands. She’s not wearing makeup, her hair is a mess, she’s exhausted. Her clothes don’t quite fit right. It’s kind of awesome. She was an uncomfortable person to live inside of because she’s constantly self-loathing and that’s not a fun place to be, but it’s a place a lot of people live. I also think people are inadvertently hilarious when they’re that self-obsessed.
I love that Kate blatantly has no interest in children. Do you personally like kids?
Actually, I do, and there’s a part of me that wishes I could back up Kate in that space. I don’t know that there’s a lot of space for women to say I don’t want to have kids—or, not only do I not want to have kids, but I don’t really like them. I myself, I do enjoy children.
What was your favorite scene to film?
I really liked the bouncy house scene with Kate [McKinnon], where we’re fighting to get Maddie out of the bounce house. I thought that was pretty fun.
Kate McKinnon’s character was hilarious, too. She plays a buttoned-up, super judgmental mother and neighbor. What was it like working with her?
She’s such a genius improvisational performer and brings so much freedom to the space she’s working in—that was just very fun. It was fun to play with her. She’s really gifted.
Is there anything you’d like to see more of in Hollywood?
I would just love to see the journey of inclusion keep moving forward, full-steam ahead. I think we’re on our way, but I think that there’s a lot of room to celebrate everybody. There are a lot of producers and executives and filmmakers and there are a lot of people that are doing that already and actively looking to include. I just want to keep aligning myself with that crowd and move that forward.
What do you hope the takeaway from this film is for audiences?
To celebrate where you are right now. I love that Laura is really casting off any notion of what you should be, any kind of cultural expectations. It’s about making room for your true desires and who you really are, even if that doesn’t quite fit. I guess in a word that would be acceptance.
The final season of Orange Is the New Black has been filmed. What makes you most proud about having starred in that show?
Especially in the very beginning, the show just made more space for lots of different kinds of women to be themselves and to be seen. I’m most proud of the visibility that that show allowed for—just for people to be seen and to be heard, which I think is the most healing bond. Orange did for people who had previously not been seen or heard.