Wesley Taylor pivots between award-winning web series development and Broadway success

It’s safe to say that School of Drama alumnus Wesley Taylor '08 likes to stay busy. His Broadway credits include the original casts of “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Addams Family” and “Rock of Ages.” He has co-created and acted in three different web series. In between projects, he writes and develops new content. He has also returned to UNCSA as a guest artist, both in-person to work with current students and virtually, talking with admitted students alongside his fiancé and fellow alumnus Isaac Powell.

In 2017, Taylor collaborated with friend Alex Wyse to develop “Indoor Boys,” a web series that “follows two homebody roommates figuring out the boundaries of their no-boundaries friendship.” Taylor and Wyse also co-star in the series as roommates Luke and Nate. 

Wesley Taylor in the Season Three trailer of "Indoor Boys"

Watch alumnus Wesley Taylor in the season three trailer of "Indoor Boys."

WATCH ALL EPISODES OF "INDOOR BOYS" FOR FREE

The third season of "Indoor Boys" won six 2020 Indie Series Awards, including Best Comedy Series. Additionally, Veanne Cox (“Cinderella,” “Erin Brockovich”), who plays Luke’s mother, received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actress in a Digital Series category for her work on the show.

We caught up with Taylor to learn more about his time at UNCSA and to discuss how he’s continuing to create art during a global pandemic. 

COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed your industry. How have you been staying creative over the last several months? 

At the start of the shelter-in-place orders, I started FaceTiming with my writing partner, Alex Wyse, and we ended up meeting daily over Zoom. We eventually completed a full-length play that we're now doing virtual readings of and sending around town. 

Tell us about any current and/or upcoming projects you’re working on:

Before everything shut down in NYC, I was in my second week of rehearsals as Zangara in Sondheim’s “Assassins” at Classic Stage Company. Our director John Doyle says we will resume in 2021 when it's safe to do so. I’m also playing Prince Darling in season three of the scripted musical podcast, The Two Princes, for Gimlet. 

How do you apply what you learned at UNCSA in your career?

The technical skills are in the daily toolbox: phonetics when learning a new dialect, voice and speech warm ups, combat/singing/movement/alexander technique. But also there's that way of working that I never would have had pre-BFA. The only way I know how to open up a script and dive in, or start preparing for a role at all, is from what I learned at school. 

The only way I know how to open up a script and dive in, or start preparing for a role at all, is from what I learned at school.

Wesley Taylor

Why did you choose UNCSA?

I knew of the school's reputation. I went to a performing arts high school in Florida, and we took a college tour visiting places like NCSA, Juilliard, NYU, etc. When we toured the campus, I just fell in love. I knew I needed a conservatory-style program, but couldn't go to school in NYC or Chicago or even LA... I know myself. I would've gotten distracted or auditioned for things and probably wouldn't have finished the four years. In the middle of the woods felt like a good place to stay focused.

Taylor in the 2015 Signature Theatre production of "Cabaret" where he starred as 'The Emcee.'Taylor as villain 'Sheldon Plankton' in the original Broadway cast of "SpongeBob SquarePants." Taylor appeared in both seasons of NBC's musical drama "Smash" as 'Bobby.' Taylor starring in the original Broadway Cast of "The Addams Family" as Wednesday Addams' love interest 'Lucas Beineke.'

What advice would you like to share with current or prospective students?

Sometimes it's hard to see the forest through the trees, to trust and have patience. I've always been result-oriented and ambitious, so this was a hard one for me. Sometimes the training can feel infuriating, and the ego required to be a confident actor who's comfortable in their own skin also makes it hard to stay vulnerable and receptive to criticism at all times. But challenge yourself to soak it all up as much as you can. 

What have been the highlights or most significant moments of your career so far?

Significant moments from my acting career so far include the opening night of my Broadway debut, “Rock of Ages,” performing at the 2009 Tony Awards and shooting my first episode on "Smash."

A few of my writing career highlights would be the New York Times piece about my web series “It Could be Worse” getting acquired by Hulu, getting my first short play published and pacing in the back of a theater where Stockard Channing and Nathan Lane performed my short plays in front of a sold-out audience.

Did you have an influential faculty or staff mentor at UNCSA?

Gerald Freedman's impact on me was profound. I wouldn't even know where to begin with what I gained from Bob Francesconi. I had some crazy breakthroughs in Mary Irwin's Shakespeare class. Matt Bullock and Tanya Belov were monumental.

Wesley Taylor in West Side Story

Taylor (second from left) as a member of the Jets in the 2007 UNCSA production of "West Side Story," directed by Drama Dean Emeritus Gerald Freedman.

 

by Melissa Upton

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July 21, 2020