Q&A with Taylor Rogers

APO's Graham Bell spoke with TV presenter Taylor Rogers (also known as Jojo from TVNZ’s Toi Time) ahead of the upcoming concerts APO 4 Kids: Move and Groove.

Q. We’re so thrilled to have you as part of our APO 4 Kids concerts, thank you for taking the time away from presenting Toi Time on TVNZ! As a Toi Time presenter, can you tell us about your process in preparing for a show?

Kia ora, thank you for having me. Toi Time is a wonderful lollapalooza of a show where we sing, kanikani, tell stories, learn, make things, go on adventures… so there is plenty to prepare for! Before we film in the studio the presenters and I learn and rehearse our choreography, explore the scripts and record the waiata with our good friends at Big Pop Studios. These prep weeks are crucial for making key elements of the show but they also allow me to get into the headspace of Jojo before we shoot.

Q. There’s a lot of dancing and singing on the show, do you have a background in music yourself?

Āe! Music was a huge part of my childhood from kapahaka, to playing in the school band, to performing in musicals with local theatre groups. I have explored a range of instruments such as guitar, piano, saxophone and of course my voice. Throughout my studies at Te Kura Toi Whakaari o Aotearoa music was woven into many of our kaupapa.

Q. What is your earliest musical memory?

Barney the dinosaur, as well as my obsession with dancing in front of the TV to the Wiggles and Hi-5 – we have the whānau videos to prove it!

Q. Can you tell us a bit about what drew you to focus on performing for children? 

I’ve always felt it’s important for our tamariki to have positive, fun, informative content to watch. As an actor it’s a privilege to work in these spaces as they are so playful and imaginative. Also kids are straight up, so if they don’t like it – they’ll tell you!

Q. Who would you most like to collaborate with?

It depends, I’m always looking for something new that hasn’t been done yet so I’ll jump on board with artists who are on the same waka. In general though, people who have lots of aroha for creating and want to make a difference with their mahi.

Q. Can you describe the most challenging or exciting project you’ve worked on? Is there a project that’s particularly special to you?

Last year I toured around Ōtautahi performing Rutene Spooner and Holly Chappell-Eason’s beautiful iteration of Maui me te Ra in primary schools (Co-directed by Tom Eason and Vanessa Gray). It was a bilingual te reo Māori show with a blend of live music and puppetry. The show was incredibly interactive which always makes the show extra special as you will never perform the same show twice.

Q. Do you sing in the shower?

Who doesn’t?!  I sing wherever and whenever I can. One because I love it, and two because it’s great practice – also showers have the best acoustics.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received was during my drama training and that was to truly challenge myself. That’s for all things in life I suppose, you are never going to grow if you're too comfortable. Plus, like Jojo, I’m really competitive so I love a good challenge.

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