with TAYLOR THORNTON
Images by: Annika Briggs
“IT’S… Legitimately the hardest thing I've done in my life... But I always ask myself what would I do or what would I be doing if I weren't here. So far, I've always stuck it out… I just have to keep fighting.”
My FIRST call with Taylor Thornton was scheduled for an early Friday morning just before the end of the YEAR…
I had stumbled upon her Instagram page before and heard about her athletic prowess from her equally as athletic brother. Still, I didn’t know much about her, and I wanted to learn more before we spoke. So, I did what anyone would do before a blind date. I Googled her.
A simple “Taylor Thornton” Google search pulls up multiple results. Most notably, there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to her, an interview with US Lax Magazine and a YouTube video highlighting her Northwestern 2018 Hall of Fame induction. Her 2012 player bio highlights the game winning goal she scored her Junior year to claim Northwestern’s seventh National Championship amongst other honorable awards (including the Division I 2012 women’s lacrosse player of the year).
Utterly impressed with the accolades surrounding her name, I texted my college roommates (who all played college lacrosse) to see if they had heard of her. Within seconds, I received a response… “Ah! She’s like a celeb.”
From the moment I got on the phone with Taylor Thornton, I could feel her effervescence. She was giggly, bright and so enthusiastic about getting involved with our women’s line. I could envision her on the other end of the phone, standing in the LA sun, probably wearing sneakers, and her hair pulled back in a ponytail - ready to activate. Immediately, I could tell her synergy was directly in line with the woman we envisioned when the team first decided to launch a women’s line.
I was also impressed to learn that since graduation she has continued playing lacrosse in the Women’s Professional Lacrosse League, and more surprisingly, that she moved to LA to pursue a career in acting. It’s something she’s “always wanted to do.”
As someone who has had so much success in her athletic career, I assumed she must have glided right into acting. But it hasn’t been that easy. Something tells me though that Taylor’s dedication to facing adversity and proving people wrong will bring her out on top. I’ll let her tell the rest of her story - read below for our interview with Taylor Thornton.
WE START OUR INTERVIEWS LIKE WE DO OUR WORKOUT, with a warm-up.
My active Way of Life is moving my body every single day to help me be stronger physically and mentally.
What time do you wake up in the morning? 6 am.
What gets you out of bed? Knowing I get to release stress and anxiety by working out or running right when the day starts. It’s very calming for me.
Do you have any routines? And if so, what is your favorite? I truly mix up my workout routines. I'll run probably 3 times a week mixed with studio workouts like FlyWheel, Pilates, and Bootcamp classes.
In the morning you can find me at the gym and drinking a post workout coffee savoring every minute of the quiet LA streets in the a.m. My favorite time of day is early morning.
At night you can find me usually tucked in bed watching Grace and Frankie or old episodes of the Office.
Best workout you’ve ever had was at Title Boxing in Dallas. It is an authentic boxing class...old school drills and all punching on the heavy bag mixed with abs and cardio. I was legit DEAD after.
What’s a goal you would set for yourself tomorrow? Be better and even more positive than the day before.
What was your last “epiphany”? I'm the only one that can control my emotions or happiness. By letting others dictate my mood will forever be an uphill battle.
What’s one way you like to care for yourself?
“I’ve played team sports since I was four and without even knowing it, I was learning how to be committed to something”
NOW FOR THE ENDURANCE ROUND - LET’S GET PERSONAL.
WOLACO Women: Let’s start back a couple of years ago… after you graduated from Northwestern as D1 Lacrosse Athlete, how did you adapt an athletic lifestyle while no longer being an “athlete”?
Taylor Thornton: After graduation, I was eager to get into a workout routine that I was excited for and to get my body back to its natural frame. I was appreciative of my body during my four years, I knew I needed it to be strong, but I had gained about 15lbs of muscle that needed to come off. I used to really dread running, but I’ve learned to love it. It has become almost therapeutic for me. I probably took two months post college to allow my body to rest and relax after the tremendous amount of stress it was under for four years. After that, I truly hit the ground running making my own workout routine, and I haven’t stopped since.
WW: Your workout routine now includes a run three times a week. What does running look like for you? Is it a long run in the morning always? Do you mix in sprints? Music or no music?
TT: Running for me is usually a 3 - 5 mile run at a moderate pace. Some days I'm just looking to move my legs and others I will increase the speed throughout so by the end of the run I am sprinting. It all just depends on the day, my mood or truly just how my body is feeling. I always have music while I run. I’m known for being a HORRIBLE pacer LOL. If a song that I love comes on I’ll sprint and if the tempo slows down I will too...Hahah.
WW: I’m really interested in your transition from being a competitive tennis player to lacrosse player in your adolescence. You’ve told us that you stopped playing tennis at the beginning of high school and later fell into lacrosse. You ended up having an incredibly successful career as a college lacrosse player and beyond graduation. What was the difference for you in finding success between the high level of competition in tennis vs lacrosse?
TT: I don't really think there was a major difference. Both sports involved a high level of hand-eye coordination. I had that pretty solid coming from tennis. Lacrosse was a good sport to transition to coming from tennis. Honestly, with both I had natural raw talent and over time with practice and reps became progressively better.
WW: Do you think your childhood established habits that you’ve carried through the rest of your life?
TT: For sure. I’ve played team sports since I was four and without even knowing it, I was learning how to be committed to something, team work, and enjoying the camaraderie that my team built with that. Of course, you're not thinking of all these things when you are young, but when I look back, I realize what an impact it had on me.
WW: On paper, it almost seems like the active way of life comes easy to you. Would you say there is any truth to that?
“The desire to want to be better and stronger never fades…You have to want to be better for yourself and not others.”
TT: It 100% comes easy to me. Naturally, I want and need to be active and healthy. But everyday isn’t the same. Some days I struggle. I think a 5.0 speed on the treadmill is FLYING LOL, and there are other days where I'm just truly in the ZONE and can crush anything that comes my way. The desire to want to be better and stronger never fades. Like I said, people who look at fitness as a quick fix or crash diet to fit into something or go on a vacation will always have an uphill battle with working out. To want to get better each day ultimately has to come from yourself. It's a lifestyle not a fad. You have to want to be better for yourself and not others.
WW: Do you ever fall off the wagon, and if you do, how do you inspire yourself to get back on? If you don’t, how do you keep yourself going even when you’re exhausted, busy, sad, etc.?
TT: I truly don't ever fall off the wagon. I definitely give myself rest days, but I have never gone through a period of time when I don't workout. Working out will ALWAYS be a top priority in my life. I truly need it. Even at my lowest, saddest and busiest times, I always find a way to do something active. My body responds well to it and sometimes the feeling of just a good sweat is all the release I need. I can clear my mind of anxiety, sadness or stress...it’s healing for me. Of course, they don't all go away with a workout but it is most definitely a step in the right direction towards feeling better.
WW: How has staying committed to an active way of life made you better in your pursuit towards a career in acting?
TT: Staying active has 100% helped me in my pursuit of acting. The comments that get said to me on a day to day basis can get to be a bit daunting. It's hard not to take a negative comment personally, especially when it’s about your appearance. Sports in general have helped me build a strong sense of self worth and confidence. I definitely have my insecurities, but at the end of the day, I know when a nasty comment is said about me it’s more reflective of the person saying those things than of me. Easier said than done not to listen, but it just takes practice over time to develop a thick skin. When I first moved out here I would get SO MAD if I didn't book or get feedback, especially if it was an athletic role. Over time, I have developed and, let’s be honest, I’m still trying to develop, a coping mechanism to just let go. There is truly no rhyme or reason as to why they cast people in certain roles half the time. That's not to say I don't get down on myself, I do, but just trying to figure out ways to keep looking forward even if I have a really low day or week.
Easier said than done not to listen, but it just takes practice to develop a thick skin…I would get SO MAD if I didn't book or get feedback, especially if it was an athletic role. Over time, I have developed and, let’s be honest, I’m still trying to develop, a coping mechanism to just let go.
People like to give their opinions that are painted to their own picture. Don't let someone else's experience deter you from trying something. Because helloooo you are not them!
WW: You mentioned that you feel the lessons you learned both on and off the field has helped you approach the rejection that inevitably comes in any actor’s career. Do you have a specific moment in your mind when you were able to pull from an experience in your sports career that helped you get over a setback in your acting career?
TT: Ultimately college lacrosse, especially Northwestern’s program, taught me the biggest lesson of mental toughness. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that this is a HUGE life skill that not many people have. It translates perfectly into the grind of trying to act because at the end of the day it's a numbers game and who can hold on the longest. You get told hundreds of “nos” hoping for the one “yes” that will make it all worth it. The toughest part is just believing that it will eventually come. You have to keep grinding and keep planting seeds just to “hope” (NOT a guarantee) that the one “yes” will come along. IT’S HARD. Legitimately the hardest thing I've done in my life. It's not easy staying up or having to be your biggest hypeman day in an day out. It would just be easy to say, “you know what this is too much.” And some days IT IS TOO MUCH. But I always ask myself what would I do or what would I be doing if I weren't here. So far, I've always stuck it out. And until I get to that point, I just have to keep fighting.
BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S A QUICK COOL DOWN.
WW: I loved when you told us that you were fueled to succeed at Northwestern because many people didn’t expect anything from you being a lacrosse player from Dallas. You ended your collegiate career as somewhat of an icon. Any female lacrosse player near your era gives a quick gasp when I mention your name, so I think it’s safe to say you’ve become a role model for the female lacrosse community. Any piece of advice for anyone reading this with an aspirational mindset?
TT: My advice would just to be to stay your course. Put your blinders on and focus on what YOU want to do, not what you “think” you should be doing. It's really easy to start comparing yourself to others - especially with social media. One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is the thief of Joy,” and that couldn't be more true. TAKE RISKS. You learn from them and more importantly, you grow! Settling is one of my biggest fears in life, and I never want to feel that I’ve settled. Take other people’s comments with a grain of salt. People like to give their opinions that are painted to their own picture. Don't let someone else's experience deter you from trying something. Because helloooo you are not them!
Interview by: Linley Shaw