Breaking into the film industry is notoriously challenging, as even a talented actress such as Talia Jackson has had her fair share of challenges and setbacks. Through hard work, perseverance, and a push in the right direction from her mother, Talia soared to her current role as Jade on Netflix’s Family Reunion. At a mere nineteen-years-old, Talia’s reputation precedes her; not only is she an accomplished actress, but she is also a gifted singer, songwriter, and is currently recording her EP. Outside of the entertainment industry, Talia can be seen hiking and spending time in the great outdoors, or advocating alongside the Global Lyme Alliance. The organization is close to Talia’s heart, as she has suffered at the hands of Lyme disease since her adolescence. The disease can be alienating, but Talia explains that her mother and brother, who was diagnosed last year, also suffer from the illness and are there to help her through tough times.
Rebecca Erlich: Did anything/anyone, in particular, inspire you to pursue acting?
Talia Jackson: I would say my mother for sure. I had always loved performing for my family growing up, and she was always so encouraging in helping me pursue my craft. That's one of her main reasons for moving my brother and me out to Los Angeles after my parents got divorced.
RE: Can you give an overview of your past in the entertainment industry and how it led you to where you are now?
TJ: Long and discouraging. I had worked ten years before I ever got a role on TV or film that actually played somewhere. Just audition after audition, always getting callbacks or producer sessions, but never booking the role. I thought it would never happen and had mentally given up right before I booked Family Reunion. My mom forced me to get on a plane to come back from my summer vacation to get back auditioning and 2 weeks later I booked Family Reunion and a Pantene commercial on the same day. Two weeks after that, I booked a recurring role on ABC’s, Station 19.
RE: Do you have any hobbies you enjoy partaking in when you’re not acting?
TJ: Songwriting has become my new favorite hobby, although it also helps in a career aspect. I’m also into hiking these days, really anything outdoors. I think after months of being locked inside, my body is just so happy to be outside.
RE: You play Jade on Netflix’s, Family Reunion. What has your experience been like filming this series and working with the cast?
TJ: More than incredible! I’m so blessed to be able to make amazing content with such experienced and talented people. We all have so much fun together that sometimes we forget it’s work.
RE: Was there anything, in particular, your character, Jade, taught you thus far throughout the series?
TJ: My character, Jade, goes through a little self-discovery journey throughout part one and part two, and I think I also went through that with my character while filming. Playing Jade helped me find the confidence that I didn’t know I had and also allowed me to finally use my talent for people around me to enjoy, which changed me immensely.
RE: Is there anything, in particular, you look for when reading new scripts?
TJ: I love realism. That feeling where you’re reading a script and think wow this is something I would actually say or somebody I know would say. That’s the most important thing to me. I also look for stories with meaning, something that’s going to matter to the outside world.
RE: You’re also a successful artist in the music business, how did your journey with singing begin?
TJ: I’ve always been a singer, but it was something I only did around family and friends, with the exception of going on tour with Andrea Bocelli when I was young. I didn’t do much with music, mostly because I was scared to sing for anyone. Eventually, my mom had me work on cover songs with Joseph Itaya, followed by a whole episode on Jade getting the confidence to sing. At the same time my character, Jade, was getting confidence, I was getting the confidence to sing. That episode helped me tremendously because now I knew the world would see me sing. Netflix also shot a music video for it. I started out singing two songs that were primarily written for me and then a few months ago I went through something that hurt me and I needed an outlet to express how I felt. So, I started writing most of my songs myself and discovered my love for songwriting through the pain.
RE: You recently just released a new song, Piece of Me. Where do you draw inspiration from when writing new lyrics?
TJ: Real experiences, unfortunately, everything I sing about has happened to me. I’m so thankful for the people who hurt me because it allowed me to make some great music, in my opinion of course. I hope that anyone who hears my songs and has been hurt the same way feels a little less alone.
RE: Do you have any new or upcoming projects that you’re particularly excited about?
TJ: I’m doing a Cartoon Network voice-over pilot and working on a lot of new music; I’m currently working on my EP. I'm also excited about signing shortly with a big music management team.
RE: You’ve previously spoken out regarding your ongoing battle with Lyme disease. Can you put into detail how you initially discovered you had it and your ongoing experience with the illness?
TJ: I was officially diagnosed a few years ago, at the same time my mom was diagnosed. But, I had been suffering from symptoms for a while. It felt like I constantly had the flu, it was miserable. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure, but we have a strict regimen to help relieve symptoms. Sometimes I will get what's called herxing, which feels like the flu when I have worked out or have done some form of detox remedy or treatment. My family and I get regular IV therapy that consists of laser IV's and immune booster IV's to keep from getting sick. We go to an incredible Integrative doctor named Dr. Michael Hirt in Tarzana.
RE: Have you ever experienced any notable challenges throughout your career?
TJ: So many, for years I would never get auditions because there were no biracial families on screen. The only roles I would get were for African Americans and they never thought I was dark enough. It was so difficult to constantly lose roles over my skin being too light and then not having biracial families portrayed in tv or film.
RE: What is your biggest accomplishment thus far?
TJ: Finding myself. It has opened my mind up so that I can focus more on the things I love and enjoy. I’ve been writing so much music and being so creative recently. I attribute that all to finally really loving myself. That's been the silver lining of this year.
RE: Do you feel you have a social responsibility with your growing platform?
TJ: Definitely, I think we all do. I think and hope we have the capability of actually bringing change to a world that has stayed the same for so long. I think, unfortunately, some people with huge platforms don’t believe or fight for the good, which can sometimes be dangerous, especially with how young viewers are now.
RE: What does an average day for Talia Jackson typically look like?
TJ: Typically, I wake up and workout with my trainer. Then, I get ready for a press interview or a photo shoot for a magazine, hop on a Zoom call for a meeting with our show or brand manager, go to dinner with my best friends (and brother), and eventually go to the studio to write and record.
RE: What would you say your personal style is like?
TJ: It’s so mixed. I love streetwear and sneakers, and I love dresses and sneakers. If you catch me in heels I’ve probably been kidnapped.
RE: Who is your ultimate style icon?
TJ: My mom when she was young, she has the best style. She was a model her whole life and traveled and lived everywhere, so I think she picked up a great sense of European style. I always look at her old modeling photos and wish I could just buy the outfit off of her.
Photographed by Kin Cordell
Written by Rebecca Erlich
Creative Direction by Megan Morgante
Styling by Victoria Jackson
Makeup by Amber Perry
Hairstyling by Nina Pott