Newcomer Talia Jackson is ready for her close-up. After a decade of auditions, the 18-year-old actress/singer landed her breakout role on Netflix’s Family Reunion, where she stars alongside Tia Mowry and Loretta Devine as “Jade McKellan.”
The family-friendly show follows Jade and her family as they adjust from big city to small-town living — including a scene with Jade learning to love her natural curls and beauty.
“No spray tans, butt pads, or afros will make her any Blacker,” says her mom (Tia) in a defining pageant scene for the young star in which she ditches her wig and other accessories to show off her natural beauty.
Like her character, Talia is all about embracing her personal journey — and she’s not letting a social distancing stop her progress. Since production has paused on the show, she has been writing and recording new music. She released her debut single “5FIVE” in March and is back with the follow-up pop tune called “Complicated.”
Here, we chat with the beauty about her new role, her own relationship with hair, and what we should expect once we’re able to go back outside.
HYPE HAIR: What has been your experience working on Family Reunion?
TALIA: We are currently in the middle of season two and I’ve been so fortunate to be able to work with such a hard-working talented cast and crew. The success of our show and our NAACP Image Award is a result of a very talented and hard-working creator Meg DeLoatch who has assembled the best talent, writers and crew in every area of this production. The whole set has become my second family, we have so much fun together all day long joking between scenes and just having lots of fun. I think it’s pretty transparent that everyone loves each other when you see not only the episodes, but all the behind the scenes photos taken. We are a very cohesive TV family.
HH: This was your first major role and then you booked Station 19. How does this feel?
TALIA: After 10 years of auditioning, I honestly was starting to think it may never happen. I tried to quit a few weeks before I booked both shows, but my mom convinced me to come back from my Wisconsin summer break to start auditioning again. I had lost three major network pilots a few months earlier and really didn’t have much hope for booking again. Obviously, I was ecstatic and was so grateful my dreams were coming true. I cried when my agent and manager called to tell me I booked Family Reunion. I felt like I would never hear those words.
HH: You had some, ahem, hair issues in the first half of the show, especially during the pageant scene. Do you have any real-life horror stories?
TALIA: Probably the worst one was on the set of Family Reunion which is why I ended up wearing a wig. The character called for straight hair for the first seven episodes and they tried to straighten my hair with a high heat straightening iron, water, and blowdrying. After that episode, my natural curl pattern was gone and my hair fell limp in my face. It took a good year to get some of my old life back in my hair.
HH: Did that have any connections to you in real life?
TALIA: I used to wish and pray I had straight hair, but now I couldn’t love my natural hair more. I take good care of it by getting it cut by Shai Amiel, the Curl Doctor, and other great stylists at his salon who specialize in natural hair. My hair has become so much healthier since they have taught me how to care for my natural hair.
HH: So, now you are pretty much die-hard ‘I can’t live without my curls?’
TALIA: DIE HARD! I can’t imagine my life without my [curls].
HH: Do you know the moment that you first fell in love with your hair?
TALIA: Honestly, last year. After working with the Capella Salon and learning how to style and care for my hair is when I learned to love my natural hair. My curl pattern is not very defined and it looks like an unruly lion’s mane when I didn’t know how to care for it! The haircuts that I get also help with my hair being more manageable.
HH: What role, if any, does hair play in your personal identity?
TALIA: It’s everything. It always has been. It’’s adapted and changed so much over the years, but I’ll say its finally in its prime.
HH: What is your hair regimen like?
TALIA: Most nights before filming, I do a two-strand twist with Camille Rose Almond Jai and then take it out in the morning. My hairdresser or I will add a few curls with the Chi Lava Ceramic curling wand. On days off from filming, I use Innersense Hydrating Conditioner and then put some I Create Hold in my hair while it is wet and let it air dry.
Any other must-have products?
TALIA: Kenra Shine Spray.
HH: What is a good hair day for you now?
TALIA: When it has just the right amount of fluff and definition. I like it to look full without all of the frizz.
HH: We see you making moves on the music front, as well. Congrats on the new single! What should we look forward to?
TALIA: I’m working on more music with some great producers and artists via Skype during this quarantine. It’s been so therapeutic for me to write lyrics that resonate with my own life experiences and those around me. I hope that writing about my personal experiences will resonate with others while also helping myself deal with my own personal struggles.
HH: What are you looking forward to next?
TALIA: Well, we’re currently all on quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I’m really looking forward to getting back on set since our season two production has been suspended. I’d love to book a cool edgy independent film during the offseason.
Press play below to hear the singer’s new single “Complicated.”