Mariséla Taylor grew up as an only child in a single-parent household. She lived with her mother, and although she had a relationship with a man she thought was her father, that relationship was never confirmed. She called her grandfather the man who acted like her father at that time.
She described her younger self as a “tomboy”,
“I grew up with a lot of my cousins, and most of them were men. So I grew up playing sports and I got bullied around the boys,” Taylor said. Fort Bragg, North Carolina, her favorite sport was basketball and she played in middle school and high school, it wasn’t long after high school that she was going join the us army. For her, engaging in service was as much for family as it was for country.
“I joined the military because I got pregnant in my senior year and had my first daughter,” she recalls. “I always wanted to go to school, but I needed something stable. At the time, I thought the army was my best option.
Marisela Taylor was no stranger to the concept of military life because her mother served in the US Marines. Mariséla joined the military, but she was concerned about the athletic and physical demands that came with the job. However, she found she could handle more than she initially thought. Taylor excelled in every physical test, challenge and commitment she faced. Although she excelled, she believes her greatest accomplishment in the military was her role as a master fitness trainer.
“I was able to help other soldiers. I was able to help them lose that weight and prepare for what they needed to do. Even now I can see them making progress and doing things they love.
It was also during her service that she discovered bodybuilding, thanks to her Sargeant.
“He had started talking about bodybuilding and I was like ‘what was that? At the time he mentioned it, I had just met my husband.
She and her husband both trained, and her husband had competed in shows before getting married, but the competitive side didn’t appeal to him at first. After initial reluctance, Taylor eventually chose to explore the possibility of training and competing.
“We went to the gym one day and I fell in love. The next day I had a coach,” she said. Although she was already excelling athletically, recognition of her progress and the idea of winning on stage pushed Mariséla Taylor to compete.
“I wanted to see the rewards after (training).”
She would see those rewards coming soon. After being stationed in Hawaii, Taylor competed in her first contest, the 2017 NPC Aloha Muscle Championships, and she won the Bikini Class A Championship.
In 2018, she won her second consecutive show, the Shawn Ray Hawaiian Classic. That same year, her husband, Brian Taylor, turned professional in Men’s Physique.
It is also at this time that she decides to determine once and for all who her father is. There was a man in her life believed to be her father, but a DNA test concluded he was not.
“I didn’t feel bad because he gave me effort when he didn’t need it. So that’s what it is.
Marisela Taylor focused on her deployment, training and, in that time, raising her three children alongside her husband. That was until one day she received a package that included a genealogy test. She submitted the test and discovered that she was of Mexican and African American descent.
Even though she was spread out and busy with other aspects of life, she was determined to get her answer. Then one day, while waiting for physical training to start, she was contacted by someone who gave her a name to consider. After years of uncertainty, a DNA test concluded that she finally knew her father was, and she traveled to California to meet him for the first time.
“I went there in March 2020 to meet him, and I discovered that I had two sisters and a brother”, she says proudly. It was quite nice.
Now that she knew more about who she was, Taylor pursued her military career and competitive ambitions. After watching Brian turn pro, she wanted to do the same. Her first professional qualification was the 2019 National Junior Championships, where she placed 10th. The closest she got that year was at the NPC Nationals, where she placed third. Being so close gave him more motivation to earn IFBB Pro League status. However, she hit a snag at the 2020 North American Championships, where she failed to place in the top 15. This led her to make changes in her approach to competition.
“I decided I wanted to take the rest of this year and I wanted to have a new coach. I just wanted a different approach.
This approach put her in the right direction. Taylor won the 2021 NPC Battle of Texas and she finished sixth at the Nationals. Not what she wanted, but he beat 16th place. In 2022, Taylor has pulled out all the stops to compete in several National Qualifiers so she can gain experience, learn more and hopefully apply it to get the pro card she’s been dreaming of. That trip came to a dead halt at North Americans 2022 because she won the show and the pro card on her first attempt that year. She feels the way it went, winning the show’s overall standings which she failed to place two years prior, was symbolic and appropriate.
“Just like in the military, some can be accelerated to E7 and then they get stuck. I think some athletes are the same. My journey led me to keep going and growing, and I think it was better overall for me.
Taylor is no longer active in the military, but she already has three pro shows under her belt and placed first in two of them. While she was happy to be competitive, her goal is now clear. She wants a win and she wants to go to the biggest show of all.
“The ideal is to do as many shows as my body allows while staying healthy. My goal is to qualify for the Olympia.
You can follow Mariséla Taylor’s journey by following @madisaylaa on Instagram.