Taylor Russell

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Taylor Russell
Taylor Russell by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Russell at the WonderCon 2018
Taylor Russell McKenzie

(1994-07-18) July 18, 1994 (age 27)
Years active2012–present

Taylor Russell McKenzie (born July 18, 1994) is a Canadian actress. Her accolades include a Gotham Award and nominations for two Black Reel Awards, an Independent Spirit Award and a Saturn Award.

In television, Russell has starred as Judy Robinson in the Netflix science fiction series Lost in Space (2018–2021). Her film roles include playing Emily in the critically-acclaimed drama Waves (2019), the romantic drama Words on Bathroom Walls (2020) and the horror franchise Escape Room (2019–2021).

Early life[edit]

Taylor Russell McKenzie was born on July 18, 1994 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was raised in Vancouver and Toronto, Ontario.[1] She is the child of a Black father and White mother, and states in interview that she grew up mostly with her mother's side of the family and that she identifies as mixed race. In TheGrio.com she recalls experiencing racism and colorism growing up, stating that she had "Black girls not accepting me because I’m too light-skinned… and white girls who rejected me because I was different" from them also.[2]


Russell made her professional acting debut in 2012, with a small guest role in an episode of The CW medical drama series Emily Owens, M.D..[3] In 2014, she starred as Lark Voorhies in the Lifetime television film The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story,[4][5] and Jennifer in the Disney XD television film Pants on Fire.[6][7]

Rusell made guest appearances in the CBC Television drama series Strange Empire (2015), the TNT science fiction series Falling Skies (2015), and the Freeform supernatural horror series Dead of Summer (2016).[3] She also had roles in the teen drama film Before I Fall (2017) and the supernatural horror film Down a Dark Hall (2018).[8]

In 2018, Russell earned recognition for her starring role as Judy Robinson in the science fiction series Lost in Space, a Netflix remake of the original 1965 series, for which her earned critical praise and a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Presentation.[9][10] Essence magazine stated that she "impresses in her role as a genius medic and doctor, who is compassionate and caring even in the face of danger."[11] The series concluded in December 2021, after three seasons.[12]

In 2019, Russell had her film breakthrough with the leading role of Zoey Davis in the psychological horror film Escape Room, which was a major commercial success,[13] surpassing initial expectations and grossing $155.7 million.[14][15] Also in 2019, Russell garnered critical acclaim for her starring role in the drama film Waves, which was released by A24 Films on November 15, 2019.[16] IndieWire website dubbed her performance as a "revelation",[17] going on to write that "While Waves is filled with excellent performances from its stacked cast, it’s Russell that makes off with its most spectacular turn."[17] The Los Angeles Times called her and her co-star Kelvin Harrison Jr. "two of the fastest-rising stars of their generation."[18] For her performance in the film, Russell received the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Performer and the Virtuoso Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, among several others.[19][20]

Russell starred in Thor Freudenthal's romantic drama Words on Bathroom Walls (2020), alongside Charlie Plummer, Andy Garcia, and AnnaSophia Robb, which earned positive responses both from critics and audiences (89 and 94% "fresh", respectively, as of January 2022).[21] She also co-directed, wrote, and produced the documentary short film The Heart Still Hums, which earned acclaim and numerous awards, including the Palm Springs International ShortFest Award for Best Documentary Short.[22]

In 2021, Russell starred in the comedy-drama film Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets, and reprised the role of Zoey Davis in the Escape Room sequel Escape Room: Tournament of Champions,[23][24] which grossed $51.8 million.[25] She is set to star alongside Timothée Chalamet in the upcoming romance horror film Bones & All, directed by Luca Guadagnino.[26]


About the opportunity provided to women of color in science fiction productions, Russell has said, "[I]n space and in sci-fi and in worlds… there aren’t labels of what Black girls should and shouldn’t be… Because there are no stereotypes of being “sassy” or whatever box society puts us in now, we have this beautiful space where we’re able to be anything. I love seeing girls who are funny and strong and smart being celebrated. I love seeing more girls like that represented on TV and in movies."[2]



Year Title Role Notes
2013 If I Had Wings[27] Amy Conrad as Taylor Russell McKenzie
2015 Suspension[28] Carrie
2016 UNIT Bryan Robin Short film
2017 Before I Fall Ashley
2018 Down a Dark Hall Ashley
Hot Air[29] Tess
2019 Escape Room Zoey Davis
Waves Emily Williams
2020 Words on Bathroom Walls Maya Arnez
The Heart Still Hums None Documentary short film
Director, writer, and producer
2021 Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets Sophie
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions Zoey Davis
TBA Bones & All Maren Yearly Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2012 Emily Owens, M.D. Mean Girl #1 Episode: "Emily and... the Outbreak"; as Taylor McKenzie
2013 Blink[30][31] Jessica[citation needed] Unsold television pilot
2014 The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story Lark Voorhies Television film; as Taylor Russell McKenzie
Pants on Fire Jennifer Television film
2015 Strange Empire Cassie 2 episodes
Falling Skies Evelyn 5 episodes
2016 Dead of Summer Laura Episode: "How to Stay Alive in the Woods"
2017 Sea Change CeCe Television film
2018–2021 Lost in Space Judy Robinson 28 episodes

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2019 Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress in a Streaming Presentation Lost in Space Nominated [32]
African-American Film Critics Association We See You Award Waves Won [33]
Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Performer Nominated [34]
Gotham Independent Film Award Breakthrough Actor Won [19]
Indiana Film Journalists Association Breakout of the Year Nominated [35]
Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2020 Black Reel Award Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Female Nominated [36]
Outstanding Supporting Actress Nominated
Independent Spirit Award Best Supporting Female Nominated [37]
Georgia Film Critics Association Breakthrough Award Escape Room and Waves Nominated [38]
Hollywood Critics Association Star on the Rise Waves Won [39]
Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Breakthrough Performance - Actress Nominated
Latino Entertainment Journalists Association Best Supporting Actress Nominated [40]
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award Won [20]
Seattle Film Critics Society Best Supporting Actress Nominated [41]
Atlanta Film Festival Best Documentary Short The Heart Still Hums Nominated [42]
BlackStar Film Festival Won [43]
Nashville Film Festival Won [44]
Palm Springs International ShortFest Won [45]


  1. ^ Ahearn, Victoria (December 2, 2019). "Vancouver actress Taylor Russell on her surreal ride with 'Waves'". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Wills, Cortney (April 16, 2018). "Exclusive: Taylor Russell on Bringing #BlackGirlMagic to 'Lost in Space'". TheGrio.com. Beverly Hill, Calif.: Entertainment Studios Digital Media. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  3. ^ a b Nededog, Jethro (September 19, 2014). "'Saved by the Bell' Movie's Taylor Russell Books Recurring Role on TNT's 'Falling Skies' (Exclusive)". TheWrap. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  4. ^ Lowry, Brian (September 1, 2014). "TV Review: 'The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story'". Variety. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  5. ^ Snetiker, Marc (September 2, 2014). "'Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story': 100 things that maybe happened". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  6. ^ "Pants on Fire - Full Cast & Crew". TV Guide. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  7. ^ "Pants On Fire - Official Trailer - MarVista Entertainment". YouTube. April 8, 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  8. ^ Kroll, Justin (October 10, 2016). "'Down a Dark Hall' Movie Adaptation With AnnaSophia Robb Casts Taylor Russell". Variety. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  9. ^ Ausiello, Michael (September 16, 2016). "Lost in Space: Netflix Remake Casts Falling Skies Alum as Judy Robinson". TVLine. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  10. ^ "Saturn Awards 2019 Nominations Led by Avengers: Endgame". Collider. 2019-07-16. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  11. ^ "'Lost In Space' Actress Taylor Russell Dream Casts Idris Elba As Her Onscreen Dad, Talks Surviving In Space". Essence. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  12. ^ Cordero, Rosty (October 7, 2021). "'Lost In Space' Season 3: Netflix Reveals Premiere Date & First Look Photos". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  13. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2019-01-13). "Why Kevin Hart's Oscar Host Noise Didn't Upset 'The Upside' At B.O.: STX Posts First No. 1 Opener With $19.5M+". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2019-01-06). "'Aquaman's $940M+ Global Muscle Bests 'Batman V. Superman' & 'Wonder Woman'; 'Escape Room' Packs $18M Stateside – Sunday Update". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  15. ^ "Escape Room". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  16. ^ Yamato, Jen (November 18, 2019). "Let 'Waves' Duo Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell Break Your Heart and Piece It Back Together". LATimes.com. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  17. ^ a b Erbland, Kate (2019-11-14). "'Waves': Why Taylor Russell Is One of Oscar Season's Biggest Revelations". IndieWire. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  18. ^ "Let 'Waves' duo Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Taylor Russell break your heart and piece it back together". Los Angeles Times. 2019-11-18. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  19. ^ a b THR Staff (December 2, 2019). "'Marriage Story' Sweeps Gotham Awards; Full Winners List". HollywoodReporter.com. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  20. ^ a b Gray, Tim (October 18, 2019). "Awkwafina, Taron Egerton Get Santa Barbara Fest Salute". Variety. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  21. ^ "Words on Bathroom Walls". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved January 23, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Malkin, Marc (February 14, 2020). "'Waves' Star Taylor Russell to Make Directorial Debut With Documentary Short". Variety. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  23. ^ Clarke, Cath (June 18, 2021). "Dr Bird's Advice for Sad Poets review – quirky teenage hero gets life lessons from a pigeon". The Guardian. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  24. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (October 18, 2019). "Escape Room 2: Sony Sets Lead Cast for Sequel". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 28, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  25. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (2021-07-25). "Box Office Drops With 'Old', 'Snake Eyes', 'Black Widow' & 'Space Jam 2': But Is Delta Variant Or Dynamic Windows To Blame? – Update". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-01-29.
  26. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 28, 2021). "Hot Package: Luca Guadagnino Eyes New Project 'Bones & All' With Timothée Chalamet And Taylor Russell Circling Lead Roles".
  27. ^ Parker, Dylan (October 21, 2020). "How 'Lost In Space's' Taylor Russell Is On Her Way To Making Her First Million". The Things. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  28. ^ Mohr, Jeff (November 30, 2015). ""Suspension" (2015): A Twisted Mother Of A Story". gruesomemagazine. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  29. ^ Allen, Nick (August 23, 2019). "Review: 'Hot Air'". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved January 23, 2022.
  30. ^ Kasperowicz, Leslie (January 28, 2013). "The Tomorrow People Reboot And Blink Get Pilot Orders At The CW". CinemaBlend.com. Retrieved January 23, 2022.[better source needed]
  31. ^ TFC Staff (May 10, 2013). "Breaking News / Development Update: Friday, May 10-Odds & Ends". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved January 23, 2022.[better source needed]
  32. ^ Mancuso, Vinnie (July 15, 2019). "'Avengers: Endgame', 'Game of Thrones' Lead the 2019 Saturn Awards Nominations". Collider. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  33. ^ Rahman, Abid (December 10, 2019). "Jordan Peele's 'Us' Named Best Film by African-American Film Critics Association". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  34. ^ "2019 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards". December 31, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  35. ^ Dossey, Evan (December 11, 2019). "Nominations Announced for the 2019 Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards". Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  36. ^ Morales, Wilson (December 11, 2019). "20th Annual Black Reel Awards - Nominees Announced". Black Film. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  37. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 21, 2019). "Spirit Award Nominations: A24 Leads For 4th Straight Year With 18 Noms As 'Uncut Gems' & 'The Lighthouse' Come Up Big". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  38. ^ "Georgia Film Critics Association: 2019 Awards". Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  39. ^ Variety Staff (January 9, 2020). "'1917' Wins Best Picture at 3rd Annual Hollywood Critics Association Awards". Variety.com. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  40. ^ "'The Irishman' and '1917' Lead 2019 Latino Entertainment Film Awards by LEJA, Jennifer Lopez Gets Lifetime Achievement Award". January 5, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  41. ^ Anderson, Erik (December 16, 2019). "Seattle Film Critics Society winners: 'Parasite' lands on top". Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  42. ^ "Atlanta Film Festival + Creative Conference Reveals New Dates and Official Selections for 2020 Event". March 26, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  43. ^ "BlackStar Film Festival Wraps Up 9th Year, Announces Winners for 2020 Competition". August 27, 2020. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  44. ^ "2020 NashFilm Winners: Film Competition". Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  45. ^ McNary, Dave (June 21, 2020). "'Matriochkas,' 'Heart Still Hums,' 'Fabric of You' Take Top Prizes at Palm Springs ShortFest". Variety. Retrieved January 7, 2022.

External links[edit]