Last year, Taija Bryan could be seen on screen in her first TV role playing Jada, the granddaughter of main character Anthony Bryan, in the BBC One feature-length drama Sitting in Limbo, about the Windrush scandal. During her acting career so far, Taija has been involved with web series Thor, filmed a number of commercials, appeared in short film Vigils as Ashleigh and has finished work on another film for a charity. Taija has been a catwalk model for Kids Fashion Festival and she currently trains at Pauline Quirke Academy. We recently spoke with Taija who tells us about filming as Jada in Sitting in Limbo, working on commercials and being involved with web series Thor.
You filmed as Jada in Sitting in Limbo, how did you feel booking the role and what do you remember from your first day on set?
Booking the role I felt very excited as it was my first TV role and to be able to work with such a talented director, actors and production crew was an amazing opportunity for me to grow.
My first day on set was both exciting and slightly scary but the energy on set was very positive and motivating, the cast bonded really well, so lots of laughing too and I couldn’t stop smiling all day.
Can you tell us about the character and what was the story of the Windrush scandal like to film?
Jada was the granddaughter of the main character Anthony and she was very strong-willed and active. Filming as Jada was very exciting as I related to her in many ways but also contrasted her character at the same time. It was quite emotional to film the story of the Windrush scandal as it’s something that effected, and still effects, real families and people.
How much did you know about the Windrush scandal before reading the script and how much did you learn from being part of the film?
Before reading the script I was slightly aware of the Windrush scandal as I saw an interview on it with Piers Morgan. However, when reading the script, it really gave me an insight on how it really effected his day to day life.
What was it like being part of the cast?
It was a privilege to be a part of a cast full of so many talented actors as I could learn something from each of them and they all had their own style and qualities.
You have worked on web series Thor, how did you find the experience?
I found the experience of working on Thor very exhilarating as I got to film in many different locations. It was my first time working with a US-based director as well so that was different.
Having worked on commercials including Persil and Cravendale, what are commercials like to do?
Commercials are very fun to do as they can be very creative and over the top, there’s not often dialogue so you have to use your facial expressions well.
What did you enjoy most about being a catwalk model at Kids Fashion Festival?
I enjoyed making friends behind the scenes at the Kids Fashion Festival the most, also how hectic it can get, the best thing was that I was helping to raise money for charity.
Can you tell us about training at Pauline Quirke Academy and when did you start having an interest in acting?
I started having an interest in acting at a very young age (around six/seven) and I started training at a local stage school at nine. I joined PQA at eleven years old and it’s very fun to attend the school and make new friends with the same interest as you. PQA has a specific focus on screen acting and teaching you behind the scenes tools too, like production/editing.
Do you have a favourite aspect of being an actor?
My favourite aspect of being an actor is when I first read the script and imagine how I can develop the character. I also like seeing the finished product and working with other actors on set.
What can you tell us about short film Vigils where you played Ashleigh?
Vigils was a film made through a montage of powerful pieces that were based on text taken from the director’s diary she wrote as a child. It was a very moving piece to film.
Can you say about some of the other projects you’ve worked on?
I was involved with the Get Into Teaching ad campaign which was fun to shoot over a few days, there were so many of us young people, around forty of us, so we laughed a lot.
More recently I was involved in filming a film for a charity called Clarrisa, which has a very powerful message. It’s still in post-production so I’m looking forward to seeing the final edit.
What TV shows do you enjoy watching?
I enjoy watching The Vampire Diaries, The Crown and Brooklyn Nine-Nine in my free time.
We understand you enjoy dance and gymnastics, where does your love of these come from?
My love for dance and gymnastics stems from being put into these activities at a young age following the steps of my older sister, I’ve always loved to dance.
What have you been working on during the pandemic and what are you hoping 2021 brings for your career?
During the pandemic I have been attending online classes and doing auditions online through self tapes. I hope 2021 brings more in person auditions – if it’s safe. I was lucky to shoot a few scenes last year before the second lockdown, it’s a lot different on set with everyone wearing masks and social distancing.
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