Today's guest blog is one hell of an inspiring story and comes from Stage 32 member, actress Taylor Hay. Living and working in Southern California Taylor got an early start in acting. She booked her first feature, The Blue Rose, at the age of six alongside Danny Baldwin, Danny Trejo, and Dee Wallace of E.T. fame. Then, an unexpected diagnosis at the age of nine turned Taylor's life upside down. Now, at only fifteen, she already has such a unique story and inspiring perspective on persevering through hardships.
Today, Taylor shares her incredible journey as well as how it shaped her opinion on positivity. I thank Taylor for her contribution to the Stage 32 Blog.
My name is Taylor Hay. I am fifteen, an actress, and a cancer survivor. I am telling my story to attest to the fact that anyone, at any age, with whatever hardship life has thrown at them, can still be happy and successful.
My story starts at a young age. I started acting when I was four, after literally bugging my mom to death after watching her work in the industry. I begged her for an agent, classes, or anything that would help me be more like her. After pestering her for months, she finally relented and sent my pictures to a local San Diego agent to see what they thought. The agent liked me and signed me, and I booked the first job I was sent out on- a Peter Piper Pizza commercial who needed a young birthday girl. I was hooked from then on.
Since we weren’t in the LA market and she wasn’t willing to constantly pack me to LA at that age, I worked sporadically for the next year or two, but once I turned six and could follow direction, things picked up. I booked my first feature film, Hurricane Hunters, playing the daughter of the female lead. The film was very ambitious and ran out of funding about halfway through, but it was an amazing experience and it was a blast working in the period style wardrobe.
My next feature was The Blue Rose with Danny Baldwin, Danny Trejo, and Dee Wallace from E.T. fame. Again, I played the daughter of the female lead, but this time, the movie was fully produced and released. It was my very first front credit role and I was so excited! I worked pretty steadily for the next few years and secured an LA agent.
That’s when tragedy hit. Just a few months after my ninth birthday, I was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer for someone my age. Needless to say, my entire career, that I had worked so hard to build up, instantly stopped. I went through over two years of chemotherapy and was hospitalized sixteen times. In the end I decided to not let a negative situation give me a negative outlook on my future. I vowed to keep my chin up, keep fighting, and to never, ever give up my dream of acting.
After losing my hair twice and spending more time than imaginable in the hospital, I was finally pronounced cancer free. Only someone who’s been through it can imagine what a relief that was!
Going through treatment was tough, but it taught me the importance of giving back and never giving up. During treatment, rather than just sitting in the hospital, waiting to get better, I decided to do something positive with what was happening. I became a spokesperson for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Make-A-Wish, and Rady Children’s Hospital, using my love and experience in front of the camera to bring awareness and interest to helping sick kids, which was my new passion. I appeared on TV and was interviewed on the radio, talking about my experience, how it affected me, and how others could make a difference, and I was thrilled when people actually listened and I was able to raise funds for the organizations that were helping me.
Now I’m in remission, I’m fifteen, and I’m fighting to get my career back on track. When I was diagnosed, I never heard from my LA agent again. Thankfully, my San Diego agent stuck with me and I’m still with her to this day. Every time I walk in the room to meet with a possible new theatrical agent, I face the reminder of never, ever giving up… of taking what could be a negative and turning it into a positive. When I audition, I now hear I’m too tall for a lot of the kids roles, I look older than my age, I should have more network credits, blah, blah, blah. I can’t change the past and I wouldn’t want to if I could. It’s made me who I am. So rather than buy into all that, I just look at why I wanted to act in the first place and I just keep trying.
And that is what brings me to the purpose of writing this piece. We all have things that happen to us in life. Some people might be hit harder than others, but we all experience highs and lows and we all have a choice to make on how to handle it. We can either grumble and complain about our troubles, wallow in our sorrows, and make others around us feel our pain, or we can pick our chins up, stare challenges in the face, and vow to not bow down to those negative pressures. I am definitely an advocate of the latter, and I encourage you all to be too.
Sure, it’s hard. Sometimes it’s really hard, but it’s never impossible. In the end, it is our passion for acting and filmmaking that is what keeps all of us walking back in the room when we’ve been turned down the past twenty times, or pitching a film that’s close to our heart to the next potential producer when we’ve already been shot down for the past six months. That next open door may be the only one we need to move us up to the next level. So don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t EVER give up on your dreams. Because your dreams will keep you going when everything else seems to be going against you. Every day is a new chance and a new door to open. Make it count!
Like this blog post? Please share it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email etc) by using our shiny new social media buttons at the top of the blog. Or post to your personal blog and anywhere else you feel appropriate. Thank you.
Feel free to share your thoughts - Taylor is available for remarks or questions in the Comments section below...
|Stage 32 and U + Trailer Film Festival|
|Please Vote for Stage 32 at SXSW 2014|