Kazy Tauginas (The Equalizer 2), started out as a restaurateur and Golden Gloves boxer before graduating from the prestigious New York Film Academy. From there, he began working in numerous theatre, film and television roles. Including “Person of Interest,” “Blindspot,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Blue Bloods,” “Sneaky Pete,” “The Good Cop” and “John Wick.” Drawing inspiration from his mother who had been diagnosed with lupus, and his own boxing experience, Kazy wrote “Standing Eight,” a short about a boxer who is forced to retire after being diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. Since its completion, “Standing Eight” has won eleven festival awards. The movie is being now released, with proceeds going to Lupus Foundation of America.
Tell everyone about your Writing and Producer background?
Well, as an actor I’ve always been of the mind that creatives need to make their own projects to feel fulfilled. I’ve been writing consistently since I graduated from the New York Film Academy. I actually completed by first feature screenplay while I was still in school. From there, it naturally grew into producing. I really wanted to see my scripts come to life. When you don’t have an uncle in Hollywood to make that happen for you, you have to find some way of getting it done yourself. I shot my first short film in 2010 entitled “Salvation Road”. In that particular film I wrote, directed, produced and acted. I carried a lot of those “lessons learned” into my latest project “Standing Eight”. I truly feel that screenwriting and producing go hand-in-hand, especially if you have a very specific vision for your screenplay and the will to make it come to life.
Of all the roles you have played in the past, which is your favorite?
That’s tough. I think the one that had the deepest meaning to me was “Dusty Abrams” in “Standing Eight”. The film carried a lot of emotional weight for me.
What actor/actress would you like to work with in the future?
Charlize Theron. Her performances are always riveting. I think she’s been fantastic in every film she’s been in. Not only would I be honored to work with someone of her caliber, I feel like I could learn a lesson or two.
What inspired you to make your STANDING EIGHT film?
My mother has lupus and has been fighting the disease before I was born. For those that don’t know, lupus is an autoimmune disease wherein the body’s immune system attacks healthy organs and tissues. It can be fatal. At least 1.5 million people suffer from Lupus in the United States alone, the majority of which are minority women. I also was an amateur boxer before I began acting. At the time I wrote Standing Eight, I had yet to play a legitimate role as a boxer, so I decided to write something for myself. I really wanted to make something that was socially conscious. My team and I finally settled on the idea of a boxer who is forced to retire after being diagnosed with lupus. I wanted to give a voice to a population of people who really have very little representation in entertainment. There’s never been a single film released (at least that I’ve seen) which has lupus as plot device. I simply wanted to change that and attempt to bring lupus into the consciousness of the general public. After screening at 29 film festivals worldwide and taking home eleven festival awards, I think we’ve done that to a degree.
Any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?
Well, Standing Eight is now available to rent or purchase on Amazon.com. We’ll widening our release on iTunes and Google Play next month. I’m currently working diligently on a screenplay for a feature film that deals with the same elements as “Standing Eight”, lupus, fighting etc. I have several feature films that I had the absolute pleasure of acting in that will be released of the course of the next year. “Odd Man Rush” a hockey film that takes place in Sweden, “Invisible Love” a 1920’s period piece that takes place in Vietnam, among others.
Who in your life do you admire the most?
I admire anyone who sticks to their principles/moral code in the face of societal pressure, adversity and pursues their dream. It becomes very easy to just “go with the flow” and look at success from the mainstream perspective. Anyone who decides to swim against the current and pursue their own goals and dreams gets a nod from me.
What’s one thing that defines who you are?
This is a hard question, being that it takes a bit of introspection. What I hope that defines me is being a “man of my word”. I hope that my friends hold me to this standard. The world is full of talkers and dreamers, but many don’t follow through. I can say I’ve met numerous people who have made false promises and didn’t follow through. I can say without a doubt I strive every day not to fall into that category. The concept that I can be trusted not only to do the task at hand, but to do it to the best of my ability is incredibly important to me.
What is your favorite food and restaurant?
Deep dish stuffed spinach pizza from Bacinos in Chicago, Illinois. There is literally nothing like it.
Would you rather live for a week in the past or the future?
A week in the past, so I could tell myself not to date my ex-girlfriend.
What was one of the best days of your life?
The day I found out I was cast in Equalizer 2. It was a life changing moment. My goals and dreams came to that rare intersection known as reality. It was a very similar emotion when I saw the final version of Standing Eight. There is nothing like the feeling of knowing you’ve accomplished something that you’ve been striving so hard for.
How can everyone keep in contact with you on social media.
Follow me on Instagram: @kazytauginas and Facebook: officialkazytauginas .