By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Dancer and businesswoman Christian Taylor accomplished two of her biggest goals before the age of 30.
“One of my top things was I wanted to go on tour. I [also] wanted to be in a movie. And I did [both],” said Taylor, an Alabama native who graduated from Ramsay High School in Birmingham and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
The movie was “Coming 2 America,” the sequel to 1988’s “Coming to America,” starring renowned comedian and actor Eddie Murphy; it premiered worldwide on Amazon Prime Video in March. The tour was in Chicago, Illinois, with R&B singer Jeremih in 2018.
In addition to her screen and stage endeavors, the 30-year-old Taylor is the owner and founder of Christian Taylor Marketing, a digital marketing agency based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her company, established in June 2020, specializes in social media marketing, offers strategic planning services, and provides website and social media design packages.
On Stage with a Legend
In “Coming 2 America,” Taylor is a member of a choir during a scene with R&B legend Gladys Knight. Taylor rehearsed with other choir members for three days, and their scene was shot in one day at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. While most of the other stars filmed on other days, Taylor got a chance to meet Knight on the day her scene was shot.
“It was great, and we had a lot of fun during rehearsals,” Taylor said. “I didn’t know I was going to be working with Gladys Knight until I got to the set, so that was amazing. It was kind of a full-circle moment. In August 2019, I bought my house, which isn’t far from [actor and director Tyler Perry’s] studio, where I filmed the movie in October . So, I was like ‘OK, this is great.’”
When the movie came out last month, Taylor wasn’t able to see the film on the big screen because of COVID-19 restrictions, but knowing she was part of something so big was enough for her.
“[‘Coming 2 America’] was supposed to come out last year, but I think it was even better coming out on Amazon Prime because more people were able to watch it,” she said. “Just seeing myself in a movie with so many iconic people was amazing. I shared the screen with the likes of Eddie Murphy, Gladys Knight, and all of the other amazing actors, so it was a moment for me.”
Born to Dance
Taylor is from Warrior, Alabama, where she and her two older brothers were raised by her mother, Stacey Stewart, and grew up with eight cousins in her grandparent’s house. Her grandparents, aunts, and mother still live in Warrior.
“I grew up around a lot of family, which was really great for me as a young kid because everyone doesn’t get to do that. I was heavily involved in church. I [participated in] praise dance, choir, church step team, and all of that,” said Taylor, who started taking dance lessons at age 3.
“I didn’t even like it because I didn’t want to be away from my mom,” she said. “[Eventually], I stopped dance for a while and got involved in sports. I played softball until I was in seventh grade, and I did cheerleading until I was in ninth grade. I also played basketball.”
Taylor began to take dance seriously when she joined the Ebony Arrington Dance and Performance studio in Birmingham; she commuted from Warrior to attend classes.
“I did that for about a year and then tried out for their junior accolade team, which is their competition team. I didn’t make it,” said Taylor, who was in eighth grade at Restoration Academy in the Fairfield area at the time. “I had to do a summer intensive [program] and work hard to make the team—and I did. We won several competitions …, then I started teaching ballet to the 3- and 4-year-olds. [Studio director Bronze-McGhee Lougheed] was my mentor and instructor, and she really pushed me to do dance.”
Wanting more instruction in dance, Taylor applied to Birmingham’s Ramsay High School.
“In ninth grade [at Restoration Academy], I decided to take the test to get into Ramsay High School because it had a focus on both academics and the arts,” she said.
Taylor attended Ramsay from 10th through 12th grades. She was a member of the Modern Dance Club, for which she served as president during her senior year. She also was a captain for the school’s dance auxiliary, the Blue Diamonds.
“During my senior year, the BET [television network] did a special on my teacher, [Annie Lindsay], who had been a dance teacher [at Ramsay] for 30 years. … Because of that, we got sponsored to go on a trip to [the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater], and I was like, ‘OK, I really want to do dance now,’” said Taylor, who graduated from Ramsay in 2009 and went on to attend UA, where she majored in dance.
“They had tracks in modern, jazz, and ballet, so I chose a modern dance focus,” she said.
At UA, Taylor was a member of the dance auxiliary, Rip Tide, and choreographed routines for Dance Alabama and the school’s first Sankofa program. Also during her time at UA, Taylor was initiated as a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Lambda Zeta Chapter, for which she was co-chair of the step team and served as sergeant at arms and second vice president.
After leaving UA in 2012, Taylor moved to Atlanta, where she pursued a career in dance. She “fell out of love with dance for a little bit” before training at Dance 411, a dance studio and agency, which led to her performing as part of a BET Hip Hop Awards performance featuring music artists Rick Ross and Omarion.
She eventually went on to share the stage with other artists, including R&B group B5; R&B singers Chris Brown, Jeremih, and Birmingham’s Ruben Studdard; and rappers Megan Thee Stallion and Snoop Dogg. She also performed at “Showtime at the Apollo Birmingham”; appeared on shows like “Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta,” “Little Women: Atlanta,” “Star,” “American Soul,” and “The Quad”.
While on tour with Jeremih in 2018, Taylor traveled across the U.S to cities like New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., as well as abroad to Canada. “It was amazing … going to sleep on the tour bus and waking up dancing everyday. It was truly a dream,” she said.
Making Marketing Moves
With all of those accomplishments under her belt, Taylor found time to shift her focus to Christian Taylor Marketing, a company she started out of a “necessity,” she said.
“I had worked for a company for eight years, and during my last three years there I was the head of marketing, advertising, and design—and I fell in love with what marketing could do,” she said. “[Marketing is about] telling people stories, and I like that. Plus, it keeps me just as creative as I was when I was dancing.”
Taylor, who is married to Robert and has a stepson, Isaiah, who lives with them, started her business in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It was pretty tough,” she said. “I put a lot of my own money into it, but I also had an angel investor, so that helped me have a cushion when I started.”
To get the word out, Taylor ran a couple of Facebook ads and leveraged social media. Though some may have second-guessed starting a business in the middle of a pandemic, she said, “I thought it was my time to do it.”
“It was scary because a lot of people were losing their jobs and didn’t have money, so I was like, ‘[Why are you] starting a business [now], girl. What is wrong with you?’ But God told me to do it,” Taylor said.
To learn more about Christian Taylor and Christian Taylor Marketing, visit www.marketingbychristian.com, @marketingbychristian on Instagram, and Christian Taylor Marketing on Facebook.