• Hector Gutierrez

All Hail the Queen, Talia Jackson

The rising star appears on the cover of the tenth issue of Mud, where she talks new music, creativity in quarantine, and what it's like to be part of Netflix.

Cover Photo: Cliché (@mynameiscliche)

For the past few months, Talia Jackson has been keeping herself busy. Posting fire Insta pics. Eating apples and caramel (with a sprinkle of salt, of course). Binge-watching Criminal Minds on Netflix. And releasing dope music left and right.


It takes a lot of determination and work ethic to be productive during a pandemic, but ultimately, it takes talent for the product to be as cool as everything Talia is doing.


While lockdown orders suspended filming for a lot of actors–Talia currently stars as Jade McKellan in Netflix's Family Reunion–it also brought new opportunities.


"There is no filming, no castings. Everyone in the industry feels like their life was put on hold," said Talia, whose role on the newest season of her show was also interrupted as a result of Covid-19.

Quarantine has been tough on everyone, and it did not spare the people we love to watch on screen. Once the pandemic fully took over our lives, Hollywood was not immune. Fortunately for those of us who love dope music and NEED it to survive in quarantine, Talia didn't let her creativity end with the interruption of her acting.


“All of a sudden, I have a lot of time to focus on music,” said Talia.


Photo: Talia Jackson

2020 has been pivotal to the young artist's career. Once a touring singer along some pretty impressive names, now Talia is focused on finding her own sound. Her first single, "I’m Not Jealous" is incredible. “Complicated” comes from a past relationship, which as fans, I think we can all agree that knowing that an artist speaks from a place of truth will always make their music better. Talia then released "5FIVE" early into quarantine–a total bop, btw. She followed up recently with "Piece of Me," which is the perfect song for a socially-distant, late night drive under LA lights. All her music gives off main character vibes.


"[Quarantine] has helped, but also hasn't. I've been feeling a lot of creative things as a way to not be bored. It has given me a lot of free time to write and focus on music, which I'm thankful for," Talia said. "Now, I have a lot more time to focus on music, which has helped my creativity. It has helped my music, but not my acting."


It wasn't until recently that the eighteen-year-old creative genius decided to focus her creativity on music. Her style? One that stems from a wide array of genres, but surprisingly, is not too hard to recognize.


"I'd say I lean towards Indie, Pop, and R&B, but in all truth, there are no set genres anymore," said Talia about her music style. “I’m making my own sound.”


It's true. With her dope taste in music, which includes sensations like Kehlani, SZA, and H.E.R. but also more obscure bands like Silver Sphere, the artist can't be pinned down to a particular genre. In fact, as her latest Instagram caption says, "everything changes, constantly evolving."


Photo: Talia Jackson

After moving to Central California with her mother and her brother Armani (who is also in the industry), Talia struggled to find some footing. For ten long years she did audition after audition with no luck. At one point, the young artist confessed that she thought her dreams of acting would never happen. When she auditioned for Netflix, Talia shone. She landed a starring role as the daughter of Tia Mowry on Family Reunion, a show about a family dealing with a drastic move from Seattle to Georgia. Much like the real Talia underwent an important personal journey to figure out her goals, music, and style, her character in Family Reunion, Jade, also experienced her own self-discovery transformation.


"I LOVE being part of the Netflix family. These shows speak their opinions and are true in depicting how life really is," Talia said about her experience playing Jade. "It's taken too long for people to talk about these issues."

Centered around characters that feel true and authentic, Family Reunion is a heartwarming show about love, relationships, and growing up. Especially when seen through the eyes of Jade. However, early in the first season of the show, Talia's character faced a lot of negative comments and hate from fans on social media for wearing a wig. Without skipping a beat, Talia took to Instagram to address the backlash.


Real queen shit, if you ask her 400k plus followers. Her caption even received love from her on-screen mom and Hollywood legend, Tia Mowry, who commented, "You are a gem. A star. I’m so proud to know you and I’m so proud to play your momma! Continue to ride and shine bright my love :) ❤️💕."


This might not make sense to a lot of you, but Talia Jackson showed me the “right way” to be young. She navigates life having plenty of fun (follow her @taliajacksonofficial and be the witness). But she also exudes a sense of ground-ness that can only be appreciated when you meet her.


During our conversation, we talked about a ton of things. We discussed our favorite Kehlani songs. Life in LA and New York, which she says is a matter of timing. “I can’t do New York currently in my life. Maybe when I’m older and more mature. It’s too hectic. I’d get lost all the time,” she said. From her early beginnings in California to her swift stage as a horse girl (“In the good way, I swear,” she added in between laughs), Talia finds comfort in being who she is unapologetically. To her, being young is one of the best things in the world.


“In the past, people didn’t listen to us cause we were young. It never occurred to anyone that we had important things to say. Now with social media, our generation has a voice and we can say what we want to say and no one can stop us,” said Talia.


Photo: Talia Jackson

Our tenth issue focuses on the experience of growing up today, and it's clear that since the quarantine hit, Talia Jackson has been focused on growing. As an artist. As a musician. As a creative. Her ambition has no limits. Her confidence jumps out of every single Instagram post and video that graces her feed. Her genius is ever-expanding, especially in times of uncertainty. Asking her, "what's next?" felt like shouting at the universe for a glimpse of tomorrow. "The possibilities are endless," I think it would shout back, and the same applies to Talia's bright, ever-growing future.


While this year is filled with uncertainty about the future of the world, especially with the pandemic taking over our lives, I have found a sense of comfort in the creative projects of artists that are helping me keep my sanity alone. The one thing I know for sure is that Talia Jackson is not done. If anything, she's just getting started.

This story appeared on the tenth issue of Mud, "Growing Pains." You can buy a print or digital copy and support young creators here.

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