Anya Taylor-Joy: From TCK to One of The Most Influential People in The World

An experimental mosaic portrait of Beth Harmon aka Anya Taylor-Joy made out of chess symbols.
Anya Taylor-Joy speaks into a microphone at Comic-Con. The actress has her hair in a high, slick pony tail, and is wearing a black top.
Anya Taylor-Joy speaking at the 2018 San Diego Comic Con International, for “Glass”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Photo credit to Gage Skidmore

Anya Taylor-Joy’s acting career began in 2015 when she got a part in the fantasy series “Atlantis”. Six years later, the actress won the Golden Globe award for her starring role in The Queens Gambit. As Taylor-Joy gained fame and following, fans were shocked to learn about her highly mobile childhood.

Taylor-Joy has 28 credits on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). To clarify, ‘credits’ indicates her name appearing in the opening or end titles of a film/episode/etc. The actress has won 14 different awards along with 24 separate nominations.

Taylor-Joy’s American, Argentine and British Childhood

Taylor-Joy, the youngest of six children, was born April 16 1996 in Miami, Florida. Her father, who is of Argentine and Scottish heritage, had moved the family for his work as an international banker when Taylor-Joy was a baby. Taylor-Joy’s mother, born and raised in Zambia, however, is of Spanish and English descent.

Black and white headshot of actress Anya Taylor-Joy
Anya Taylor-Joy, Embajada de EEUU en la Argentina, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Taylor-Joy to this day takes great pride in her Argentine culture. “I come from many different places, but I think my warmth and attitude in life comes from Argentina,” Taylor-Joy said in an interview with People Español. “I am very grateful for that part of my story, I am very proud to come from Argentina.”

When she was six, the family moved to London. However, Taylor-Joy told Wall Street Journal the move “traumatized” her. For two years she remained convinced the family would be returning back to Argentina any day. Consequently, she did everything in her power to put off learning English.

How Taylor-Joy Adapts to new languages

“I came to London when I was 6 but I only learned English when I was 8 because I was convinced if I didn’t speak the language my parents would have to take me home, and that failed miserably,” Taylor-Joy said when she appeared on the Graham Norton Show in 2021. Taylor-Joy’s first language is Spanish, which she still fluently speaks.

A Youtube video of Taylor-Joy speaking perfect Spanish left the internet shocked and delighted.

“I learned to speak English reading the Harry Potter books, so as lame as it sounds, those charcaters really were my first friends,” Taylor-Joy said. Later in life, she shared the screen with Harry Melling, an actor from the “Harry Potter” movie series.

Taylor-Joy speaks in what many would recognize to be a British Accent. In an interview on Live With Kelly and Ryan, she the nuances of having English as her second language. As a result, she has the tendency to mimic the language of whoever she is around.

“Its really difficult to keep it together. So I go to Ireland, and all of the sudden I start sounding Irish” she said.

At the age of 16, she quit school, moved to New York, and immediately began her career as a model and actress.

According to BBC America, Taylor-Joy holds triple American, Argentine, and British citizenship.

From left to right, the American flag, Argentinian Flag, and British flag.
The American flag, Argentinian Flag, and British Flag

Star of “The Queen’s Gambit”

Released on October 23, 2020, the show became an instant hit, raking up awards throughout 2021. For example, according to The Wrap, within 28 days of being available on Netflix, 62 million households watched The Queen’s Gambit. Taylor-Joy plays the lead role of Beth Harmon, an orphaned teenager who becomes a chess prodigy.

Taylor-Joy’s excellent acting won her a Golden Globe in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series, Anthology Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television. In addition, the show won the Golden Globe Award for “Best Miniseries or Television Film”.

Digital art portrait of Anya Taylor-Joy's character Beth Harmon from "The Queens Gambit". The mosaic portrait is made out of chess symbols, reflecting the character's chess skills.
An experimental mosaic portrait of Beth Harmon aka Anya Taylor-Joy made out of chess symbols. Art by Charis Tsevis

Her work in Queen’s Gambit also won her the title of “Best Actress in a Series” through The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards International Awards. Additionally, she won “Best Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie Made for Television” at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards.

According to the IMDb as of April 2021, Queens Gambit has won 28 awards and been nominated nine other times.

2021 TIME100 Next

Anya Taylor-Joy speaks into a microphone at Comic-Con. The actress has her hair in a high, slick pony tail, and is wearing a black top.
Anya Taylor-Joy speaking at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con International in San Diego, California.
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Taylor-Joy earned herself a spot on TIME Magazines list, TIME100 Next, which highlights “100 emerging leaders who are shaping the future,” according to TIME magazine.

“Everyone on this list is poised to make history,” Said Dan Macsai, editorial director of the TIME100. ” “And in fact, many already have.” 

Garry Kasparov, former World Chess Champion, wrote Taylor-Joy’s profile for 2021 TIME100 Next. “She learned to move the pieces and her body the way a professional player does, something akin to learning a new language,” He said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if her stellar portrayal does more to promote chess worldwide than all the real-world champions. Anyone who can do that can do anything.”

“The individuals on this year’s list provide “clear-eyed hope,” Said actor, composer, and director Lin-Manuel Miranda to TIME mag.

Taylor-Joy’s Work in “The Witch”

She acted in the supernatural horror film “The VVitch: A New-England Folktale” otherwise known as “The Witch”. Her work in “The Witch” won her eight awards in various categories of film and acting and nominated her for 11 others.

“The Witch” was her first film, and she had a starring role. The movie takes place in 1630, in the town of New England. The plot follows a Puritan family torn apart by forces of black magic and which-craft. Taylor-Joy plays the part of Thomasin, one of the children of the family.

Following “The Witch”, Taylor-Joy’s career took off, her name began to show up more and more on the big screen.

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