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Jackie Taylor speaks to students at Queens Dinner
“You have to believe in yourself—You’re going to fail, you’re going to have a whole lot of ‘no’s.’ It’s just going to be that way … You just
These words were part of the story of actress, playwright and former Columbia faculty member Jackie Taylor, the keynote speaker at the Queens Dinner, a celebration in observance of Women’s (Her)story Month, hosted April 4 in the 618 S. Michigan Ave. Building by the office of African-American Cultural Affairs. The event theme was female entrepreneurship in male-dominated careers, according to Kimberly Weatherly, director of African-American Cultural Affairs.
Along with appearing in films like “Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” “Cooley High” and “Hoodlum,” Taylor is also the founder of the Black Ensemble Theater Company, 4450 N. Clark St., and has written and produced more than 100 plays and
“This year’s theme is our women managing to successfully compete in what is still a man’s world,” Weatherly said. “Taylor was a wonderful selection because she founded, created, seized money, got grants and did everything necessary to open an entire theater.”
Taylor, who taught in the Theater Department in the 1980s, spoke about her childhood and career in theater and film. Though she said she encountered some racial prejudice in the film industry, she said she continued auditioning for roles that directors said were meant for white women
“I’d go everywhere and audition, and everywhere was not open to us,” Taylor said. “I never limited myself to just being black.”
After telling guests about her life, she opened up the discussion to questions. When beginning entrepreneurial careers, Taylor advised students to tackle tasks one at a time and to put their personal and business needs first.
“People say, ‘How do you do everything that you do?’,” Taylor said. “I’d say one thing at a time. When I’m acting, I’m acting … Then you make time for yourself where you do none of it.”
Guests of the Queens Dinner were offered a light meal and listened to junior theater major Ashley Mondisa sing “I Know Where I’ve Been” from the musical “Hairspray” prior to
Weatherly said the event was the first of what she hopes will become an annual affair involving others in the Multicultural Affairs Office. After listening to Taylor’s story, Weatherly said she hoped the attendees will gain insight into becoming an entrepreneur and succeeding in male-dominated careers.
Jovan Landry, a junior film & video major, said she found Taylor’s discussion very inspiring.
“I just like how powerful and aggressive she is, just to get what she wants done,” Landry said. “I remember several quotes from her like, ‘If you’re not the problem, then you’re the solution.’”
Taylor said she liked the event theme because it encouraged communication among women entrepreneurs, and she hoped the attendees will be motivated to pursue whatever they want in life.
“I want them to be inspired to look inside, find their greatness, pull it out and use it,” Taylor said.