Kirk Taylor is an actor, singer, acting teacher, and composer. He is best known for his work in the movies Full Metal Jacket, Death Wish 3, School Daze, The Last Dragon, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, and the Broadway Tour of Five Guys Named Moe.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut. My dad was a dentist, my mom a realtor. We were fortunate to have a comfortable, well-provided life. Every summer we would drive down to Washington D.C. to see my maternal grandmother Lillian R. Weeks, who also became a centenarian, living to be 101 years old! Her gentle kindness and deep spirituality really had a big effect on me. You could feel an otherworldly love emanating from her. During our visits, she would sit me down and say: “Son, ‘Honor your father and mother. The first commandment with a promise, that it will go well with you and that you will live long on the Earth.’” I didn’t understand what she was talking about at first, but she continued to sow those seeds year after year. I eventually recognized the power of those words and how they influenced my treatment and my attitude towards my parents. I learned that I could disagree with them but still treat them with honor and respect as the vessels who brought me into this world. This has opened the doorways of many blessings in my life as a direct result.
Also, an experience when I was fifteen years old helped set a course for my career. In my sophomore year of high school, I was cast in the musical “Cabaret” as the M.C. At the conclusion of my very first performance, I came out for my bow. The audience stood and gave me a rousing standing ovation! I was so overwhelmed and filled with emotion; I didn’t know I could even feel that way. I realized then that I was hooked and would never leave the stage and bright lights. I found my calling.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I had realized sooner the power and peril of the company you keep. Growing up, my mother had a phrase she often repeated: “Birds of a feather flock together!” She disapproved of some of the people I was hanging around with because she knew the influence they were having on me. Because of one of my sketchy friends, I slowly drifted from what I knew was right and ended up in some seriously hot water. By the grace of God, I was given a second chance, and I never looked back. I now surround myself with people of good character and morals who have a positive effect on my life.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
During my actor training at New York University under the watchful eyes of both Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler, there was a great emphasis on personal freedom, emotional expression, and exploration of yourself and the world around you. These ideals enhanced my life and career, and I am grateful for those lessons. On the flip side, however, unbridled freedom and expression can easily turn into destructive indulgences. Without boundaries, a river turns into a marsh and eventually a swamp. Boundaries and standards will help to develop the moral compass you will need to truly succeed and remain stable. Developing strong moral, spiritual, and behavioral boundaries can be a literal lifesaver. Freedom for freedom’s sake can be dangerous.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I lost my dear mom, Rose Marie Taylor, to cancer in early 2017. This was a devastating loss for me. We were very close, and the world didn’t seem to make sense without her in it. The level of grief was so intense that it made me question not only if I could go on, but if I even wanted to go on. “Time is a healer” is a phrase filled with wisdom and truth. With time, patience, and the love of God and family, I was rescued. During this process, I learned to never make important decisions based solely on my feelings. I remember hearing someone say: “If you’re about to make a decision, H.A.L.T.!” Don’t do it if you’re Hungry, Angry, Lonesome, or Tired. Things will get clearer when you pause and apply a little self-care.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Without a doubt, it has been having faith and trust in the Lord! He has sustained me through the many ups and downs in this industry and life itself. I have been acutely aware of being led and protected on my journey. Listening and cooperating with that still small voice on the inside has opened many doors and helped me avoid many pitfalls. When you add in hard work and dedication to your craft… you become unstoppable.
What is your morning routine?
My wake-up time varies depending on whether or not I have stayed up late working on music and such, but my target time is 7 am. I roll out of bed and right onto my knees to greet the Lord and offer Him my day. Next, 3 cups of water with fresh lemon juice and some inspirational music to get me going. Then to the dirt track across the street for a 2-mile jog, finishing up with stretching and calisthenics. After breakfast, I shift into work mode for my acting and music chops. A brand new day lies ahead!
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Developing my tenaciousness and determination even in the face of obstacles, difficulties, and delays. Actively applying faith in the midst of doubt. These practices are yielding much fruit in my life.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
It’s important for me to have a clutter-free, organized environment. It really helps foster creativity when my workspace is in order. It’s also easier for me to focus on my projects when there are clear deadlines, which come through careful planning. I also keep myself encouraged with affirmations and reminders of who I am, where I come from, and what I have been called to do. This kind of self-talk pushes back the distractions, fear, and doubt that can subtly creep in.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Without a doubt, it continues to be The Holy Bible. It has been a major positive influence in my life and career. There was a time however that I put the scriptures and even my Christian faith aside, investigating other faiths including Buddhism, Islam, Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and I even had an Indian Guru! My earnest search for Truth led me back to the Bible and the claims of the Messiah. I found Truth, miracle-working power, and deep wisdom. That wisdom is crucial to working in Hollywood. You need a strong foundation and faith to navigate the often treacherous waters of our industry. If you don’t know what you stand for, you will fall for anything. Being a real Truth-seeker saved my life.
Another book that really impacted me is called “Visions Beyond The Veil” (alternately titled “Visions of Heaven”) by A.H. Baker. It is a true story from 1920’s China, about the lives of young orphans who experienced a supernatural visitation. A riveting account.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
My great grandmother, Bessie Eaton, lived to be 106 years old! When she was 105 I sat down with her to ask questions not only about our family but about life itself. I asked her what advice she would give me for my life. With a grin and her lilting Virginian dialect, she said, “I’ll tell you what my friend Flossie use to tell me: ‘Keep your eyes and your ears open, and your mouth shut!’” Listen more, talk less. That was a gem.