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Mount Vernon Visual & Performing Arts Student Cast in Netflix Film with Award-Winning Director

Judah Taylor, an eighth-grade musical theater major at the Mount Vernon Performing & Visual Arts Magnet School, recently auditioned and was cast in the Netflix Original four-part series, “The Central Park Five.” In this role, Taylor had the opportunity to work with award-winning director Ava DuVernay, best known for her directorial work on the Oscar-winning historical drama “Selma”, the Oscar-nominated criminal justice documentary “13th” and, most recently, Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Scheduled to premiere in 2019, “The Central Park Five” recounts the notorious 1989 case involving five teenagers of color who were wrongfully convicted of raping and assaulting a female jogger in Central Park. Taylor joined DuVernay and other cast members in mid-October 2018 for the filming scenes in which he portrays a young prisoner in the film.

“When I arrived on set, I didn’t expect to be in the same room as Ava DuVernay,” said Taylor. “When she walked into the room, I was starstruck. It was such a surreal experience.”

Taylor’s mother has been actively helping him identify audition opportunities, and he attributes his skills to the education he’s received as a Magnet School student.

“I’ve learned everything from this school,” he said. “Before I started here, I was a singer and had no experience with acting. This school has taught me so much and I feel lucky to put my education to work through these on-camera experiences.”

Taylor played the pastor in the Magnet School’s spring 2017 performance of “Raisin,” for which he was nominated for a Metropolitan High School Theater Award, or Metro Award, for best featured ensemble member.

“Judah is an extremely talented young man,” said Dr. Evelyn Collins, Principal of the Mount Vernon Visual & Performing Arts Magnet School and Nellie A. Thornton High School and Director of the Arts and Gifted and Talented Education program. “We provide a space for our students to practice their craft in a classroom setting, but it gives me great pride when they have an opportunity shine by performing in a professional arena.”

Another student at the Mount Vernon Visual & Performing Arts Magnet School, also made his on-screen debut recently. John Aden Harvey appeared in the Netflix Original television series “Seven and Me,” where he portrayed Willy Brentano.