It’s safe to say that School of Drama alumnus Wesley Taylor (B.F.A. '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 numerous web series and feature films. He has even returned to UNCSA as a guest artist, both in person to work with current students and virtually, to talk with admitted students.
Most recently, Taylor joined the cast of the Emmy-winning Hulu original series "Only Murders in the Building" alongside original cast members Selena Gomez, Martin Short and Steve Martin, who play a trio that solves crimes while podcasting. Premiering August 2023, the third season features the trio as they work to learn who murdered Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd).
Additionally, Taylor and longtime creative partner Alex Wyse recently premiered their feature-length film "Summoning Sylvia," which currently boasts a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film follows a group of friends on a gay bachelor party trip who accidentally summon a sinister spirit.
Taylor and Wyse have collaborated on a number of other projects in the past, including the Indie Series Award-winning web series "Indoor Boys," which "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. 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 discuss how the newest chapters of his career.
While I actually hadn’t been watching the series until I got the offer, I then binged the first two seasons and I found myself extremely aligned with the show’s tone and sensibility. The audition sides felt like I wrote them, and my audition for the team was thrillingly fun. This is uncommon in my experience, so I wasn’t very nervous. I was just excited and ready to enter this new world.
The pandemic gave Alex and me the time and focus to meet virtually daily and write. We churned out a couple of full-length scripts before "Summoning Sylvia," but we were trying to finance them by attaching name talent, which can take a long time, and we are impatient. We had been watching a lot of horror and disaster-type movies during the pandemic. We started asking ourselves questions like, "While we wait for these other projects to see the light of day, why don’t we do something low budget and under the radar similar to 'Indoor Boys?' What would our characters look like in a horror movie?"
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 would never have had pre-B.F.A. 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
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 I couldn't attend school in NYC, Chicago, or even LA... I know myself. I would've gotten distracted or auditioned for things and probably would have needed more time to finish the four years. In the middle of the woods felt like a good place to stay focused.
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.
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." The recent addition of working with Martin Short, Steve Martin and Meryl Streep on "Only Murders in the Building" has also been significant.
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. Additionally, having my first feature film as a writer/director be at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes three months after release.
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 Bulluck and Tanya Belov were monumental.
Originally published July 16, 2020
Updated June 21, 2023
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