Talent On Tap – Katerina Taxia CAPITALIZES on The Handmaid’s Tale

It’s not very often that I get to speak with an actor that is so warming, so open and so candid that they immediately make you feel like a good neighbor you haven’t seen in a long time.  That incredibly delightful and charming actor is Katerina Taxia of the popular Sci-fi hit Fringe, Odd Squad, the voice of Otonia in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and most recently, aunt Rebecca on the #1 show and Emmy Award winning series The Handmaid’s Tale. I caught up to her as she was riding the wave of success in Toronto. And they say you can’t get no satisfaction. I think Mick would even agree that Katerina Taxia will rewrite your songs and add sparkle to everything she touches. It’s in her DNA!   

 

“Congratulations on the Emmy Award winning series, The Handmaid’s Tale. What’s the name of your character on the show and what role does she play?”

“I actually can’t tell you because of the Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). It airs June 5th though. I will say that I am a huge fan of the show though and I couldn’t believe that I had worked in it. It was such a wonderful opportunity for me. There’s always a little nerves going into an established show, an Emmy winning show but I have to say that the environment was so friendly and so welcoming and they made you feel like part of the family instantly. Elizabeth Moss was so sweet and generous and Mike Barker who’s directed quite a few episodes was a complete gentleman and a scholar. I was eating up the show before and had read the book, so I was so thrilled to be part of it.”

 

“If you won an Emmy, who would you thank?”

“I like to think, when I win an Emmy. I think it’s important to think big and if I win, it would be unbelievable. There would be so many people to thank because all those people believed in me. I think first and foremost would be my husband because he’s been there with me from the beginning through this crazy unpredictable and wonderful journey. He’s always been in my corner and has always been unconditional. He also keeps me grounded. My agent is also very wonderful. She’s just an incredible person, honest, supportive and firm when she needs to be. I feel like I can bring any idea to the table and we discuss it as a team and as two creative people. I know whole-heartedly she has my best interest in mind. I think I’d also thank the casting directors because they believed in me and brought me into that role.”

  

“If you weren’t acting what other career would you be doing”

”I’d probably own a Bougie (upscale) Coffee Shop. I love talking to people and I’ve always been curious what a person does for a living that allows them to be in a coffee shop at 2 pm in the afternoon on a Tuesday. If I own the coffee shop I can ask them over a conversation, as opposed to a strange woman asking what they did for a living. I think it’s all part of being an actor, you have to be interested in people.  As I’m evolving I realize there are so many walks of life out there and I’d like to ask them what they do for a living and what’s important to them. I also tell other actors to get out there and talk to other non actors and find out what they do.”

 

“You are called into an audition but when you get there you are told you have 3 auditions to choose from; a lawyer, a doctor and a criminal that can kick ass. Which role do you audition for?”

“Hmmn, I would love to audition for any of those roles but based on the roles I do get called in for, I would probably jump at the criminal kick-ass role. There are very few acting change opportunities for women for roles like that. For me personally, just the novelty of the experience and complex issues the character would be grappling with would be so enticing and also, who doesn’t want to be kick-ass? In a way, the lawyer is also a criminal (laughter) but I’d probably jump at that. It would be out of my element a little because I don’t get called for those roles but I’d enjoy challenging myself.”

  

“What was it like to work with JJ Abrams?”

“Just saying his name gives me shivers. He’s an amazing writer/storyteller. I remember auditioning for Fringe and not knowing it was a JJ Abrams project. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know. I remember going in; I looked around and I’m up against these 6 ft. tall men in suits and asking myself, what am I doing here? A month later my agent called and said I’m on hold for that JJ Abrams project. I was like, what JJ Abrams project? I was like, no problem but meanwhile I’m jumping up and down and super excited. I think a week went by and it was torture. I had to remain positive and just breath, if it’s meant for me it’ll come to me and if it’s not it’s not. I get on the set of Fringe and its surreal, it’s such a fast paced show and you have to keep up. It was a great learning experience and getting to work with Lance Reddick from Oz and The Wire; I was like, are you kidding me right now? I was so grateful for the opportunity.”

 

“Where is your favorite place to travel?”

“It would be New York. I feel like I should’ve been born and raised in New York. Just the vibe and the energy of that city; every time I go I feel so inspired and feel so limitless, it feeds my soul. When I do go, I’ll go see 4 or 5 Broadway shows. It’s an opportunity to watch actors on hiatus from shows on HBO and other networks and now you get to watch them live, it’s an incredible opportunity. You’re sitting there and you’ve just watched Boardwalk Empire and here are some of the actors who I just watched on stage.”

 

“What types of roles are you most attracted to?”

“I’d say really flawed characters. Roles that would make me question my own values. I want to be pushed outside my comfort zone. I love watching characters that are in a dark place with their back against the wall and have to make that ultimate choice/ultimate sacrifice. As an actor, you have to dig deep and justify my decision as that character; what makes them tick? Watching flawed characters trying to get to the other side, that’s what excites me/scares me.”

     

“Have you ever rehearsed your lines in the shower?”

“I’ve rehearsed my lines everywhere. I can be in the shower, in the bath, making supper or walking the dog. I try to run my lines when I’m busy and doing non acting things so that I’m not too focused on the lines, I don’t want to think about the line. If I am struggling with my lines I’ll take a break and take the dog out for a walk and run my lines, if I got to feed the kids, I’ll run my lines.”  

 

“What are your biggest fears?”

“I’d have to say that my biggest fear is loss.  I didn’t really understand the enormity of that fear until I became a mother. I think the love and joy you feel as a mother is indescribable. That fear that you can lose that is unbearable. I think once I became a mother my emotional life grew exponentially. That’s what I bring to my work.”    

   

“Do you have a party trick?”

“Not really, I tend to be a bit of an extrovert/introvert but a party trick, no. I don’t drink so I’m probably pretty boring (laughter).”

 

“What’s the biggest accomplishment in your life?”

“I’d have to say my family. They are the most important thing to me.  I’m also still married, so that’s nice in this industry. I love acting but in terms of my biggest accomplishment it’s my family.  Parenting is challenging; they’re always questioning your decisions. You just hope that they know how much you love them and hope you don’t scar them too much. As an actress, you have to have access to your emotions but as you’re growing up you tell yourself to put those tears away. As a mom if my kids were crying I’d want them to be able to feel every emotion so I wouldn’t say don’t cry. I would sometimes go back and forth but looking back I find it hilarious.”  

  

“Have you ever done live theatre?”

“Yes, I actually started in theatre. I had booked my first theatre audition after constantly writing down auditions that I had full intentions of going to but I was so nervous so I’d cross it out and say ‘next one for sure.’ I finally said, ‘I can’t keep on doing this.’ I remember going to my first audition and I had to sing for it and I don’t sing. I hired a singing teacher and learned the song and the monologue and still remember it. It was by Judith Thompson. I went into the audition and it went great, except for the part where I had to hit the high note. I ended up booking the role and the director said to me after the first rehearsal, ‘you can’t really sing but wow, the commitment you had when singing the song is what got you the role. It was a great learning experience because I just went for it. After that I starred in Tony and Tina’s Wedding at the Second City where I was Tina and was there for two years doing five shows a week. To this day it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was all improv and I grew so much as an actor. I also have a production company with my partner called Night Shift Productions and we’ve produced 5 live theatre shows.”

The websites link is www.nightshiftprods.wordpress.com

 

“What is the best thing about your acting career?”

“There’s so many things but I really think it’s the effect you have on people. Your work has somehow touched them and made them think, they can relate to and you’ve stirred them in some way. I remember doing a show about domestic abuse. After one of the shows a woman came up to me and thanked me for shedding light on the topic; she was a survivor of domestic abuse. I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to touch people that way. At the end of the day you want to stir people and get them to think.”   

 

“Have you ever considered writing or directing?”

“I’ve written in the past and I have a couple projects I’ve been working on but I find it very challenging, which is great. I chip away at it and hopefully someday it’ll be something I want to work on. As far as directing, maybe one day in the far far away distance. I don’t feel I’m there yet nor do I have the urge to be behind the camera as a director. I honestly feel like I’ve just touched the tip of the iceberg with my voice as an actor and what I want to say with my work. I’m also planning on doing more Producing because when there’s not enough work out there you have to create your own. It’s a lot of time and energy to produce; you’re taking care of everything. If I found something that stirred/touches me I’d love to bring it to the screen.”  

 

“What or who is your biggest inspiration?”

“As an artist, many things inspire me. It could be a song or a quote, depending on what I’m doing/going on that particular day or what film I’m seeing. I think what really inspires me is the drive.  I think you have to have drive and passion to dissect that new character. To be in that room and book that next role is what motivates me to keep growing and evolving. Not just as an actor but a person.  Without drive there is no inspiration.”

 

“What kind of advice would you give other actors starting out in the business?”

“You have to love it, be passionate about it and know why you’re doing it. You also have to focus on the things you can control because there will be lots of things that you can’t control.  You can go in and give the best audition and nail it and you’re either right for the part or you’re not. My mindset used to be, that I have an audition and I’m going to work. Now my mindset is, I’ve booked the audition and now I want to book the room. After the audition, its out of your control but before the audition, what’s in your control is doing the preparation, doing the work, going in, being confident and giving your take on the character. After you leave they might not think you’re right for the part but they’ll remember you.  It’s important nurturing relationships with Casting Directors because they have a thankless job. They call you in because they think you have the potential of booking it. I think the mindset is one of the most important things. You have to do the work, even if you have a 2 liner; those are very challenging to audition for. Can you show them what this character is about in those two lines and paint that picture for them? Use your imagination to get into their imagination.”

 

“Do you find it more difficult to send in audition tapes as opposed to auditioning live?”

“No, I enjoy both. A couple years ago I noticed that the industry was changing more towards self-tapes. Every time I’d get a self-tape request I’d go into a frenzy because I’d do the work, find a studio that’s available and find a reader. It became quite costly so I looked into setting up my own studio. I invested in lights, a good camera, research on the right look and figure out how to set it up on my computer. It’s been amazing. When you have the luxury of doing it at home, you can do it over as opposed to 2 minutes when you go into an audition room. This one particular time I’d gone into an audition and the scene had a knock in it. I’d asked the reader to give me the knock as a cue. Maybe 9 out of 10 wouldn’t ask for it, but I wanted it. It’s very important to ask if it’s going to make your performance better/stronger. There’s an incredible amount of collaboration throughout the entire process, before the audition till the very end of the project. It’s all about collaboration so you have to be a team player.”

 

The Handmaid’s Tale airs June 5th but Katerina Taxia won’t be seen until the 2nd or 3rd episode.  She represents what every Canadian actor can bring to the table. Finesse, dedication and incredible passion. We are looking forward to her Emmy and Oscar nomination!  

 

 

 

 

 

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