Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, At 20 years old, after graduating from the University of Miami with degrees in Journalism and Anthropology and headed to Europe for a three-month backpacking and photography trip. Upon her return, she was approached to host a show, inevitably leading her back to Los Angeles to pursue a career in television hosting, acting, and writing.
Although she was first introduced to the public in 2004 when she made American Idol season three's Top 50, she also became the face for Cosmopolitan.com, and starred in series and specials for CBS.com, MySpace, and MSN. On her own time, Taryn continued writing and producing videos, including a spoof of THE GOLDEN GLOBES for TVGuide.com, NOT MY SOCK with Jamie Kennedy for T-Mobile, and more.
In the film world, she played a supporting role in Senior Skip Day opposite Jackson Rathbone. She also was one of the leads alongside Jessica Lee Rose and Mikaela Hoover, in Warner Brother’s first ever web series, Sorority Forever. The series debuted on September 8th, 2008 on theWB.com.
In November 2008, Southern and her producing partner, Jessica Rose, launched Webutantes, a new media studio.
Also in 2008, Southern wrote/produced her first comedic musical web series, Private High Musical, which was released across various viral platforms. The project was produced in association with 60Frames' Red Band. In 2009, Taryn sold "Private High Musical" to MTV and teamed up "Family Guy" executive producer David Zuckerman to write the half-hour comedy script.
How are you doing?
I’m great, thanks! Just had my morning latte.
Can you let our readers know what you do?
I still don’t quite know exactly. By definition, I’m an actress, writer, producer, and TV host – but most days I just feel like I’m playing a giant game of Hollywood chess.
Describe/outline your typical day?
Sometimes I wish I had a “typical” day! Every day is different. Some days I’m filming, which means crazy call times and long hours on a set. Other days are spent auditioning (which in LA, means hours in a car), pitching TV or web series concepts for financing or distribution, writing, reading scripts, and lots of general meetings with studio execs, actors, writers, and producers.
You’re one of the co-hosts for the official American Music Awards pre-show that pretty cool right? I hope I’m getting some backstage tickets *Laughs*
Haha, I’ll let you know if I get any extra tickets! Yes, I’m extremely excited about co-hosting this year’s AMA awards. I co-hosted the red carpet of the Golden Globe Awards for Dick Clark Productions back in 2007, so I was so excited that they asked me back to be a part of their official AMA pre-show. The best part about this year’s show is that it’s completely interactive. So no matter where you are in the world, you can watch the pre-show live from my Facebook page – www.facebook.com/tarynsouthern , as well as tweet me questions you want me to ask your favorite celebs (Direct questions to @tarynsouthern -). Being able to connect fans to celebrities on the red carpet, LIVE, isn’t something I’ve ever been able to do before!
I mean you’ve worked with a lot of celebrities, you’re kind of considered a celebrity yourself, How does it feel? How has the journey been so far?
Ha, well, I definitely don’t consider myself a celebrity. I’m not exactly sure at what point someone is considered a “celebrity” - perhaps when they can’t leave the house without being pestered by paparazzi? That’s definitely not me.
Regardless, my journey in entertainment over the past few years has been an absolute adventure. I feel blessed to have been able to do so many different kinds of things. One day I’m in Washington DC talking to Chris Matthews about politics on MSNBC, the next day I’m playing dress up in a ridiculous comedy film, the next day I’m travelling to Europe to host a travel show. I never know what’s around the corner…every day is a surprise.
What is the name of the most interesting place you’ve been to and why?
I think Istanbul tops my list. Not only is it one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, but it lies on the border between Asia and Europe, so the culture draws from so many different influences. The town of Iquitos, Peru comes in at a close #2. One of the most incredible months of my life was when I was working on my senior thesis along the Amazon River. I stayed with locals in the rainforest and learned about all kinds of indigenous plants and rituals. It was fascinating.
I was actually watching Senior Skip Day and was thinking “Do you actually swear that much?” How was the experience being in the movie?
Senior Skip Day was actually my first movie – and so much fun! And no, I definitely don’t swear like Isha does. She really liked the F word.
My favorite part about Senior Skip Day was the cast. We were all such goofballs together. Now Jackson Rathbone’s in Twilight and Kayla Ewell is on the CW’s hit series Vampire Diaries. I love seeing my friends succeed. I’m like a proud mother.
What’s your biggest distraction?
My biggest distraction is not having a schedule. Since I don’t work for anyone, I only answer to myself, which requires a lot of focus and optimism. The hardest part of my job is that you just have to work really hard and then wait for that “pivotal moment.” Sometimes it’s a phone call that you got the part, other times, it’s the anti-climatic close of a six-month long negotiation. Every few months I have to take a step back from the minute details and appreciate the creative freedom I have.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
As long as you put forth effort, and do your work with passion and love, then I believe there is no such thing as failure. Everything is a learning experience. I’m a highly critical person, so I’m always critiquing myself. The growing never stops, the ideas never stop; it’s all cyclical.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
The older you get, the tougher it can be to find work in Hollywood, especially as an actor. I used to wish that I had started pursuing my career at a younger age, to have the “head start” that so many others had. Now, I’m so glad I didn’t! Without my experiences studying anthropology in college, I wouldn’t have the other passions I do now – for music, travel, cooking, culture. It’s never too late to do what you love. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
What has been your most satisfying moment so far?
Hearing from someone that I brightened their day, made them laugh, or inspired them to do something outside of their comfort zone – those letters and emails make it all worth it.
What is the most crucial decision you’ve made so far regarding your career?
When I decided to ignore the critics. My first year in LA, I found a lot of work as a TV host and even produced my own TV show. I was immediately placed in the “host/producer box,” but I wanted so badly to act and write. So instead of listening to all the people who told me that I should just focus on hosting, I started writing, producing, and acting in my own online material, which led to several roles in films and selling my first scripted TV show. There’s always going to be people telling you that you can’t do something…so you just have to go do it. Prove yourself. Now I am fortunate to have a team of people who support me in all areas – writing, producing, acting, hosting. Three years ago I would have never imagined that I’d have that.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
Coffee? Ha. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. Seriously though, most days, it’s an idea I have that inspires me to wake up every morning. A little voice inside that says you have to tell this story.
Describe yourself in 5 words?
Intuitive, joyful, sensitive, driven, practical
What do you in your non-work times?
I love the arts – writing music, painting, photography – and long hikes in the Los Angeles hills. I also try to take about 4 weeks off every year to travel. Last year I took an extended holiday vacation and went to New York, Dubai, Jordan, Istanbul, and Mexico. It was such an odd trip but amazingly refreshing. I really want to see Africa and Cambodia next.
What music artists do you like at the moment?
I’m inspired by so many different types of music. The Jackson 5, Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon, Michael Buble, and the Rock of Ages Broadway soundtrack are on my current work out playlist.
What is your favourite film at the moment?
What are you currently working on now?
A bunch of different projects (as usual!) I’ve got the American Music Awards coming up this month, but I’m also consulting for a web site launch in November and writing two web series that I plan to produce next year. I just finished acting in a movie in September, so hopefully I’ll see a cut of that soon. And in December, I’m producing my first feature – it’s a passion-project thriller that I co-wrote with a friend.
Wow, That’s great Taryn.
Where do you see in yourself and your career in the next 5 years?
I have very specific goals - I want to make a movie musical. Publish a book. Run my own new media content studio for up and coming talent to test out ideas. Learn aerial acrobatics. I’m not really sure what all this adds up to. I’m not looking to win any awards - as long as I’m having fun, that’s all that matters.
If you were conducting this interview, what question would you be dying for someone to ask you?
That’s a trick question! Haha. I’m a pretty open book, so if anyone has any questions for me, they can just send me a twitter message – www.twitter.com/tarynsouthern - or post a message on one of my blog forums at www.taryntogo.com.
Thanks for your time Taryn, we wish the best in the future.
Connect with Taryn on twitter - www.twitter.com/tarynsouthern
Find out more updates on her website - www.taryntogo.com
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