Teyana Taylor says postpartum depression and loss fueled her in 'A Thousand and One'

Jonah Valdez, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Women

Teyana Taylor is already getting heaps of acclaim for her gut-wrenching performance in “A Thousand and One.”

She plays Inez, a mother protecting her son amid the hardship of systemic poverty and a gentrifying Harlem.

Behind the acting, the hurt was real for Taylor.

“I was actually six months postpartum when we started working on ‘A Thousand and One,’ so I was dealing with literal postpartum depression,” Taylor said in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment.

Months before filming, the singer-actor-dancer had given birth to her second child with husband Iman Shumpert. Rue Rose Shumpert is now 2. While the couple raised their kids, including 7-year-old Iman Tayla Shumpert Jr., Taylor felt very little space to process the pain of postpartum depression.

“That made Inez very therapeutic for me because I was able to cry out loud for once,” Taylor told Yahoo. “I think I hadn’t been able to do that because when you’re a super mom, that’s all your kids see you as, you’re a superhero all day, every day. So going to the set every day, I was able to put my cape to the side, have my therapy session and just cry out loud.”


And on top of postpartum depression, Taylor said she was mourning the recent deaths of childhood friends, as well as dramatic changes in her childhood home of Harlem, where the film is set.

“[I was] back home to film and then come to find out that a lot of [my] childhood has been erased,” she told Yahoo, echoing other recent interviews, including with the L.A. Times, in which she talked openly about gentrification in New York City and the ways the film “A Thousand and One” lays such transformations bare.

“They romanticize the ‘new’ New York, but if we’re getting kicked out of it, there ain’t nothing cute about it,” Taylor recently told the L.A. Times. “Y’all are dressing it up to get us out to put the other people in. There’s nothing beautiful about what’s going on. It’s almost like your childhood is being taken away from you, like history is being erased out of the textbooks.”

The film’s director, A.C. Rockwell, told the L.A. Times in January that talking about gentrification was one of her goals in making the movie, which won the U.S. dramatic grand jury prize at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.


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