Meet Upstander Mya Taylor

An exclusive interview with the award-winning actress who shares her thoughts on staying strong in the face of online and offline bullying.

Upstander Mya Taylor
You appear to be a confident, strong person. Have you always had such confidence?
No, I have not always been so confident. I’ve had so much abuse in life that my confidence level was poor, but one day I had to realize that I’m a very special person.

What do you do on the days where you need extra support?
When I need extra support, I turn to my fiancee. He’s always there to keep me going.

In your wonderful acceptance speech at the Independent Spirit Awards, you encouraged Hollywood to recognize the diversity of transgender talent and most importantly to include them in their projects. Why would you say it is important to approach media representations with an eye toward diversity and inclusion?
In life, you never know what you’re going to get until you open up and take chances. Give everyone a chance no matter what that person’s background is. You never know what you’ll get.

One-third of LGBTQ students skip school to avoid bullies. Did you ever encounter an experience where you or a friend of yours was bullied? Can you share a little about that?
In school, there was one guy that didn’t like me because I was gay at that time. I found that when you are open and honest about yourself with people, then there’s nothing that they can do or say to hurt you.

The last few years have seen a number of transwomen of color enter the public conversation, from Laverne Cox to Janet Mock. How do you feel that has affected young transpeople outside of the urban cities? What areas of the community do we need to spend more time developing resources and support?
Yes. Visibility is the most important thing. Opportunity is what we need to work on across the country. Not just in film and TV but in all jobs.

How do you feel the words we use play a role in building or inhibiting community?
I think it’s always important to be respectful, kind and generous. Just ask people how they would like to be addressed.

With all your recent success, it means a lot more media attention and social media attention. How have people online been mostly supportive to you? Did you ever experience cyberbullies (or trolls) trying to muck up your communications with your fans?
Yes, I have experienced cyber bullies, but it doesn’t bother me. Some things can be hurtful, but I feel that if they have enough time to sit and be mean to me online then their life must not be that great.

How do we stop contributing to negativity on the internet?
Ignore it.

What do you think we all should be doing to create safe space for people of different cultural, sexual or religious identities? What can we change the culture to do better?
Look at each person as an individual and treat them as an individual.

If you could say one thing to anyone who is the victim of bullying, what would it be?
Reach me on Facebook, and I will help you through it. We react to bullying by pulling together.

Mya Taylor is an award-winning actress for the film Tangerine. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The views or experiences expressed are solely those of the contributor or interview subject and do not represent the views of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, its staff or board. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the material, please contact the Tyler Clementi Foundation, and we appreciate your support and commitment to end bullying starting on #Day1.