Interview: Robert Piper

Robert Piper: What inspires you?

Erica Tazel: I am inspired by great food, theater, books, the beach, black-and-white photography, and great vocalists, like Dianne Reeves, Alice Smith, and Shirley Horn. I am inspired by my mentor Diana Castle, who is guiding me towards a truth and honesty in my life and work that I have always longed for. I am inspired by my mother’s faith and the teaching I receive under the leadership of Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer. I am also inspired by hard work and powerful people who have maintained a sense of integrity, decency, and kindness. Love really inspires me.

RP: What is the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome in your life?

ET: There was a period of time between 2005 and 2008 that was pretty challenging. I had taken a leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles from New York, which had been incredible to me professionally. I couldn’t get arrested in this town. There was a lot of doubt and fear that crept in, and boy, did insecurity stick her foot up in it. There were many obstacles that were overcome during that very dark period—creative, financial, emotional, and spiritual—and I’m here, standing, stronger than ever.

RP: How do you stay healthy?

ET: For mental and emotional health, quiet time is very important to me. I need a point in every day that I disconnect from all electronics and reconnect to my center. I pray and meditate. I drink a ton of water and believe in a good night’s sleep. Because of old sports injuries, yoga has become a physical lifesaver. I also have an honest, loving, and caring circle of friends. A little bit of laughter and an occasional adult beverage never hurt nobody.

RP: How do you deal with overcoming failure?

ET: In recent years, I have begun to regard everything as more of a process so that the sense of right and wrong diminishes in my psyche. That’s been healthy for me and makes everything so much more fun. If something does not quite work out as expected or planned, I simply look for what did work, what I learned from the situation, and really try to keep it moving forward.

RP: What projects are you working on?

ET: I am finishing up the final two episodes of Justified on FX. I have a movie hopefully coming out this year called Mr. Right [in which I have a role] opposite Columbus Short. I also have been reading scripts and taking meetings around town. So we will see.

Erica Tazel is an actor whose credits include Mr. Right, Justified, House of D, The Office, and ER.

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