Julian Rojas Taylor describes himself as a first generation American, and was born and raised in New Jersey. His father was tragically killed while visiting his homeland of Peru when Julian was very small. Julian’s mom remarried, his stepfather adopted him, and Julian, who most often goes by James, took his stepdad’s last name. Both his mother and stepfather served in the US Army, and James laughs as he describes their shock when he decided to become a Marine. That friendly rivalry and banter continue to this day. James’ family had ties to Alabama, and moved here 26 years ago to work at Redstone Arsenal. He graduated from a private Christian school in the area.
After his stint with the Marines and an honorable discharge as a Sergeant, James found himself following an unusual path, and used the discipline he developed in the Corps to immerse himself in the educational and developmental rigors of the complicated world of the performance arts. He studied in New York as well as Los Angeles, and has performed in more than 50 films, in music videos, on stage, and has written plays, as well as a substantive 350 page autobiography. His work ethic is daunting, and he has a unique business here in Athens called Hole in the Wall Educational Studio, located in a loft above Grand Central on Jefferson Street. “Actually,” he said, “it is more accurate to call it an educational studio, rather than an acting studio, because much more is taught there than acting.” Hole in the Wall is a division of James’ umbrella organization, called TBC Enterprises, which has a division that supplies local theatres with set production, a film production company, a writing service, and more.
His vision for Hole in the Wall is to take kids and young adults who have had no previous acting experience from what is called, “page to stage.” Rather than produce plays, which for most young actors function as the equivalent of recitals, he wants to operate as a conduit to supply other production companies with young, well-trained actors who can both soar with creativity as well as function in the required realms of discipline that are necessary to succeed in the art of performance.
James says, “I am a Marine, and that makes me a no-malarkey kind of person, but that doesn’t mean I am rigid and rule-oriented. What I am teaching is an art form, and art does not follow rules, but rather guidelines.” I can say from having talked with James at length that he does indeed possess a great sense of humor, and as a person myself who has always enjoyed from a distance the craft of film making in particular, I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him and hearing his story.
He wants to bring the quality of training and production found most notably in New York and Los Angeles to Athens, but without the pollution. By “pollution,” he means far more than the portrayal and/or practice of poor morals, he means the lack of personal foundation in general that results in the overthrow of one’s soul.
I asked him to pretend that I was a single mom with a son who is starting to go down a wrong path and was considering having my son come to Hole in the Wall as a means of interacting with a healthy role model. For my $20 per session, which is more than reasonable, what could I expect? “To learn that acting is about psychological and emotional control,” he said. I replied with a chuckle, “You mean discipline, Marine?” He responded with, “Exactly! Most people think that acting is just about letting your emotions out and doing a convincing job with your lines, but it’s not. It is so much more than that.”
I then asked him to imagine the end of a perfect day at Hole in the Wall, and he described it as, “A timid, red-haired young woman just had a breakthrough, the ‘scene work took root,’ it was like jazz--there was 'improv' as well as structure.”
This summer James had a presentation at the Athens-Limestone Public Library as part of their Summer Reading program. Its purpose was to introduce acting, Hole in the Wall as well as TBC Enterprises, to the community. He used the topic of sports for his platform. His next session at the Library will be on September 6th at noon, and his topic will be “The Art of Acting, the Human Spirit, and You.” TBC Enterprises, LLC is currently in talks with the Athens City School System about a possible future partnership to help grow the Arts in Athens, and the students of the school system are likely to get to know James better as the new school year progresses. For more information on classes which are now forming, as well as other ways James can serve you, go to www.tbcenterprises.com, or contact James at 256-874-2795.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner