Bangkok’s cultural scene never fails to impress us with its new talents and thought-provoking arts. The city has become a hot haven for dynamic up-and-coming artists, welcoming innovative ideas and talents with open arms. Dedicated to all these creatives in town, this series explores the journey and the edgy personalities of some of the most notable rising stars in the country.
For this month’s edition, we got candid with the multi-talented, and inspiring half-American half-Thai actress and host, Taya Rogers. Many of us know her from the movies, whilst to others she is a true fitness inspiration given that she’s quite the gym junkie. Her bubbly, charming, and down-to-earth personality makes her one of the most beloved personalities and artists in our industry at the moment.
Born and bred in California, Taya kickstarted her career early at the age of 11. Whilst she decided to focus on majoring in law in her university, her love and passion for the entertainment industry lured her back to work. After she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola Marymount University, she came back to Thailand to continue doing what she loved: acting and hosting.
After opening Sarnies Bangkok, flying the uber-popular Sarnies flagship store from Singapore to our city, Taya is now onto being the brand ambassador of the newly launched gym playground, Jetts Black. Taya’s brave and enthusiastic nature sees no bound, giving herself a shot in trying out everything and anything.
Here’s a snippet of Taya’s vivacious personality for our monthly #NoFilter column.
Adventurous. Positive. Energetic.
I like a challenge and I always knew I wouldn’t be good at a 9 to 5 job. With acting and hosting, there’s always something new, there’s always a different character, it’s always a different situation, and I get to do things that I never thought I would do or be someone that’s super out of character for me. It’s just a challenge in itself so it’s always been really fun and challenging, which makes it enjoyable for me.
I’m currently binge-watching Sons of Anarchy. But right before this, I was watching See. It’s on Apple TV and Jason Mamoa is the lead guy and it’s about the earth and the dystopian future and where the entire human race is blind and everyone refers back to a tribal type cultural situation. It was super interesting and it was really well done.
There are so many dream roles! Growing up I always wanted to play Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s because I love her and I just felt like that role would be so much fun. There’s so much depth to her character even though she seems really naïve.
I would also love to play a more villainous character because being in Thailand and the way the Thai industry is, if you’re the good main girl you’re always the good main girl. But I want to be the b****. Like, I want to be the mean, catty character just to see what that would be like.
I would also love to do something like a really hard-hitting Natalie Portman character. You don’t see much in Thailand where people have to go all out for their characters like they do in Hollywood. I mean, granted, here, you are working on a much smaller scale, on a much smaller budge,t so it’s hard to ask an actor to lose 15 kilos for this role or shave their head. But I would love to have to be that dedicated to a role and make that big of a transformation. I think it would be really exciting and challenging.
The Beatles have a song called “Here Comes the Sun” and it’s just a really simple, melodic lullaby kind of song. I feel like no matter the time of the day it is a nice, positive, and uplifting song. This is the first thing that came to my mind.
Acting-wise, I would say Natalie Portman is definitely one of my favourite actresses. I feel like she is extremely talented and dedicated. On top of being amazing in her career as an actress, she is also a really great activist and a really good role model for women. But, there are so many multi-faceted artists out there. Look at Pharrell: he went from being a rapper and producer to doing clothing lines. These are artists who are just so much more than being just a performer.
Taron Egerton. His range as an actor is seriously incredible. Also, Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
I think we’ve been doing a good job recently of recognising more under-recognised people with the #MeToo movement and more non-gender or non-racial specific things. Being someone who auditioned in Hollywood, it’s very limiting. I remember when I first moved back and I was in university, it was like “we needed an Asian girl and she’s going to speak broken English.” It got to a point where I was like, why are we always speaking broken English? There are Asians who are American. There are so many Asians who are so fluent in English and so eloquent.
I really wanted to be a lawyer and wanted to be a detective. I still love a good mystery novel or movie. However, lately it’s gone more in the direction of where I really, really enjoy event planning. Especially, after planning my wedding last year and working really closely with our amazing wedding planners, I was like “wow” this is actually really, really fun.
There are lots! I really like the @i_weigh account which is all focused on body positivity.
I found out that I was starting to compare myself to other girls or feel like “man, she’s so skinny and I’m working out and I’m not getting there yet.” So, why am I doing this to myself? These people that I’m following are 0.5 % of the entire population and it has nothing to do with who I am as a person or how I want to feel about myself.
I just started Daisy Jones & The Six. I really like the author and I read four of her books this year. They just captivate you — it’s hard to put them down. I’m also a super vivacious reader so I read probably a minimum of 34 or 34-50 books a year. I always have a book with me or my kindle with me. Like, I have my kindle right now and a couple of other health and wellness books at the same time.
Stay Gold. Because that’s just been my tagline for years and years. At the end of the day, that always describes me more than any of my other hashtags.
Stay Gold! That’s the number one thing – that’s how I sign off my emails a lot of the time. It’s been my tagline for years and years. I started this book club that was called a “Stay Gold Society” for a while, and I always thought of developing a lifestyle brand based on it.
A really, really good pair of leggings or sweatpants. For me, it’s all about comfort. At some point in your life, you are going through like a lazy day or a long-haul flight so comfort is key.
For me, I have always been very much into fitness and sports. But, after 20 years of working, it’s become really important for me to listen to my body. To know when to push myself and to know when to take a break or when to stop. I’m on the mentality of pushing on and pushing through, so even when I show up for workouts and feel exhausted, that day I end up pushing myself more than I thought — which can be a good thing. But also when my body feels like it needs to rest, sleep, and recover – I need to actually do that. For someone like me, who’s always been pushing, that’s my biggest revelation that sleep is so much more important than we give it credit for.
Bangkok for me is like a choose-your-own-adventure city. What I love most about it is if you wake up and say you want to spend THB 300 and have an amazing day – you can! You can spend that little, eat amazing street food, take a water taxi down the river and see all the temples, and have all these crazy amazing experiences and do it on such a small budget. If you want to go super lavish, and blow THB 300,000 you can also do that in Bangkok and have the most amazing time. Sometimes, when you live somewhere long enough you forget to take advantage of all those different things.
For me, it would be Manhattan Beach Pier. It’s my favourite – I lived literally walking distance from it for years and years. It’s where I bought my first house. I grew up the next beach over so it’s always been a part of my home for me. Any given morning, I would walk down, grab a coffee, take my walk on the beach, and see dolphins playing in the ocean. It’s just super grounding and peaceful. You are still in LA but you are not in Hollywood at the hustle and bustle. What I love about LA is that it’s not just Hollywood. When people think of LA, they think of Hollywood, or Santa Monica, and Venice, and that’s kind of it. LA has so many different pockets and they are all completely different.
It was something that came up organically. Mika and I have already been working at Jetts for over a year, and Jetts has partnered up with the football team Mika plays for – The Bangkok United. So he’s the one who started going, and he was said it was a really nice gym so he started taking me along and I started working out there. When the chance came up and they were looking for brand ambassadors for Jetts Black, they asked Mika, and they were looking for a guy and girl. He went for a meeting and they were looking for a girl, so he was like, my wife is fit, we workout together anyways, and it could be easier. It’s been so far, so good.
The two guys who started Sarnies in Singapore, Ben and Eric, had opened “A Stimulant by Sarnies”, so it was just coffee. They were roasting coffee and serving coffee at the back of Soi 39. At the time, I lived within walking distance and because I love coffee I’m constantly looking for new coffee spots in Bangkok. When we found out about them, we would always walk there and have their coffee. They were roasting right in front of you in a container and serving 6-7 people like it was a bar. Then, we got into talks with Ben and Eric and got to know that they have Sarnies in Singapore, which we hadn’t been to, but they said it was more of a food spot. So we told them if they ever wanted to open something like that in Bangkok, Mika and I would love to be part of it, because we both love coffee and food, and we always wanted to open our own spot but we have zero restaurant experiences.
We always wanted to open something in the Old Town because Sukhumvit is super-saturated already, so one day Mika and I happened to be staycationing at the Old Town and one day, this guy told us about this crazy property that’s an old shophouse. So we drove by, talked to the owner, and within a month we signed the contract. It happened really quickly — we opened in less than 6 months and yeah it’s been two years now!
Mika and I talked for a long time to go to Greece or Australia this year, or both. I don’t know if that’s going to happen or when that will happen. Those two are still on top of my list.
I think the two main things are: be brave and be authentic.
Whether or not you think you are ready, just do it and try it, because you never know. I would have not gotten this far by sitting back and being who I was when I started. You also learn that you are a lot more capable than you thought. So being brave is definitely for anyone looking to join the entertainment industry.
More importantly, just be authentic. That’s something I think got lost along the way for a long time, but it’s starting to circle back around again. I think people started to realise that authenticity is just easier to relate to and it’s easier to be than trying to be someone else. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’m like… I just don’t have the time and patience to try to be like anybody else. You end up finding your own people. You get a much more longer-lasting, deeper, committed relationship with your followers, your fans, and people you are working with; like-minded people. I think that’s two of the most important things I would tell anyone looking to break into the entertainment industry.