Teyana Taylor Unpacks Powerful Performance in ‘A Thousand and One’

    Teyana Taylor in “A Thousand and One”

    *Teyana Taylor is receiving high praise for her performance in the new drama “A Thousand and One,” and the singer/dancer/ days she feels like she was born to play this role. 

    Per the synopsis: “A Thousand and One follows unapologetic and free-spirited Inez (Taylor), who kidnaps her six-year-old son Terry from the foster care system. Holding onto their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability, in a rapidly changing New York City.

    “I was instantly just in connection with her. There was a connection there, there was an energy there,” Taylor tells EW of Inez. “I’ve met her before and I’ve seen her before. I’ve met her through my mom, I’ve met her through my aunts. I’ve met her through a lot of the other women in my life. Including just seeing some of her in myself. And it was something that I felt like I wanted to be a part of and that was so beautiful.”

    She adds, “I almost feel like this s— was written for me.”

    READ MORE: Teyana Taylor is Already Part of the Oscars Conversation for ‘A Thousand and One’ | VIDEO

    Directed by A.V. Rockwell in her feature directorial debut, “A Thousand and One”  is  “a farewell to New York,” said Rockwell. 

    “I think for our community, which has been fighting for so long just for a level of stability and prosperity in this country, I think neighborhoods like Harlem mean not only so much to New Yorkers but just to Black history and culture, period,” Rockwell tells EW. “The idea that losing that piece of Black identity and heritage to gentrification just seemed devastating.”

    Taylor said she had something to prove by taking on this project.

    “Inez is just something that I felt and I knew that I had a point to prove,” she said. “So I wasn’t going to go in and do anything less than be great. I didn’t go in nervous or feeling like, ‘Damn, I don’t have what it takes.’ I knew I had what it took, and I knew that I wanted to do the work, and I knew that I was willing to put in the work.”

    Teyana Taylor attends the New York premiere of Focus Features’ “A Thousand and One” at AMC Magic Johnson Harlem on March 27, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)

    Taylor continues, “So I went in it with that mentality. I went into it to win the Super Bowl. You know what I’m saying? I went into it to be my quarterback’s wide receiver. I went into it for [Rockwell] to trust me and to know that she chose the best person.”

    “In the casting room, I was looking for somebody who felt like one of one,” Rockwell recalls. “I was really looking for somebody that gave me that sense of individuality and charisma and vitality that makes [Black women] unique and special as a group. And I felt that in Teyana.”

    “A Thousand and One” is now playing in theaters.

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