(The DreamYard Project)
My name is Atiya Yanique Taylor and I was born and raised in Kingston Jamaica! I moved here when I was about thirteen years old. I have a lot of memories from Kingston—I started school there, which they call basic school, and then I did primary school and one year of high school before I came to the States for good. I definitely have a Jamaican accent, but when I first came here I got bullied a lot for my accent. Kids are crazy. So I felt like I had to try to get rid of the accent. But sometimes when I say certain words the accent still comes out!
I started doing theater from when I was in the 4th grade in Jamaica. When I first came to the States, I thought it was going to be like what I saw on the Disney Channel. We came here and went to the Bronx and I was like, “This is not what they show on Disney.” Also the schools didn’t look like what I saw on television. And then being bullied when I was in 8th grade, I found myself alone most of the time and became very anti-social. I didn’t really talk to a lot of people. But it got better once I hit high school. I went to Marble Hill High School for International Studies. It’s a very good school, and the whole point of the school is to have a really integrated multi-cultural student body. So I was really fortunate that I got to go there, and that’s where I opened up and started doing theater again! I started talking to more people, and I became more active in the student life aspect of the school. And that’s how I first got in touch with DreamYard, because DreamYard taught extracurricular art classes in the school. I did that from 9th grade to 10th grade, and then in 11th grade I found out about DreamYard’s out-of-school programs, the OSP’s, and that’s how I started doing BAE—DreamYard’s Bronx Acting Ensemble. Everything just continued to spiral on up from there. Coming from the rough time I had when I first moved here, DreamYard helped me remember how much I love performing and what theater means to me. It inspired me to start focusing. DreamYard became a space where I could find out what type of person I want to be, what type of artist I want to be, and just explore my feelings. Theatre allowed me a place to take all the things I was feeling and make something out of it.
After I graduated high school I enrolled at City College of New York, majoring in theater. I feel like every actor, or whatever type of artist you are, needs training and discipline. Now I’m entering my third year at City College and I work at DreamYard as a theater intern. I’ve always made it a mission to keep in contact with DreamYard because I feel like I owe a lot to the institution and the people there. So that’s why I’ve made an effort to always try to be involved somehow there, even though I’m in college.
I’m grateful for Tiffany and for the time she spent to teach us in the Shakespeare Summer Intensive, because I didn’t know before how to interpret, analyze and breakdown Shakespeare. I’ve read Shakespeare before in the past but I never took the time to try and decipher and personalize it way she taught us. All the exploration she made us do to find ourselves as people and as artists was really great. I feel like I’ve made tremendous leaps and have grown so much over this one summer. Even right now, I’m more confident than I was three months ago! Just to audition for this show—I was so terrified, but now I feel like I’m facing all the fears that I had before about theater and doing this work. I was terrified coming in for callbacks because I knew I’d have to read for the girl who falls in love—and that’s just SO not me. The fact that I got the part is crazy to me. So now I have this newfound confidence and I’m just looking forward to playing Miranda. I know the vision that Lear has for Miranda, and I love the idea of what she’s trying to do. So now I’m just excited! I’m excited to connect with the other actors, get the relationships going between the characters…and see what happens!