Repeat After Me: Taylour Paige Is Up Next
Repeat After Me: Taylour Paige Is Up Next
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Repeat After Me: Taylour Paige Is Up Next

My first meeting with Taylour Paige didn’t take place in a swanky café. I didn’t get to chat her up over coffee or watch heads turn to catch a glimpse of her as she walked through a bustling L.A. hot spot. I didn’t get to note whether she prefers oat to whole milk or observe her as she smized and posed while draped in designer on the set of her Who What Wear cover shoot. Our interaction would be strictly digital, as nearly all nonessential interactions are these days. But even through a screen, connecting from our respective spaces in L.A., one thing is clear: Paige is magnetic. She’s a quiet force of femme energy who is deeply and inextricably connected to her past, present, and future selves. There’s this gentle yet firm quality about her that became abundantly clear early on in our hour-long Zoom call when she quieted her barking dog, Aretha, with a single loving command. It dawned on me just then and was confirmed over and over again as we talked that gentle yet firm is a theme for this particular moment of her career—and her life.

Photo:

Wolfe & Von; STYLING: Chanel top, skirt, belts, shoes, and earrings; Comme Si socks

 

Paige clicked into our video call, camera on and barefaced, dressed in a rich, unbothered auntie uniform consisting of a silk robe she picked up at an NYC vintage shop and a coordinating headscarf covering her natural hair and fastened in a loose bow on her forehead. (Those are two universal Black girl symbols of unabashed self-care, BTW.) Caring for and checking in with herself both physically and mentally, I’ve learned, are just a couple of the well-honed skills that extend to every aspect of her life, including her style choices. “I think that fashion is an extension of your creativity and how you feel and your energy, your spirit,” she says. Paige describes her style as elevated but laid-back. Effortless but chic; comfortable but sexy. She’s got a thing for duality. “You might catch me at the grocery store looking a hot ass mess, and then, the next day you catch me in a Pizzaslime Erewhon sweatsuit. But I loved that Mugler I got to wear yesterday [at the Who What Wear shoot]. That feels like, ‘Yes, she’s arrived,’” she tells me.

And she certainly has arrived.

Photo:

Wolfe & Von; STYLING: Mugler bodysuit and dress; Fenty shoes; Grace Lee rings; Misho earrings

If, somehow, you haven’t watched Paige in one of her many roles on shows like VH1’s Hit the Floor and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy or in movies like the 2018 feature White Boy Rick, trust me when I say you’re about to see her all over. She’s currently standing on the precipice of what feels like a pivotal shift in her acting career, with some of the most buzzed-about projects in the game on her personal slate. She can be seen playing the role of Dussie Mae opposite Hollywood legend Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman, in his final performance, in Netflix’s film adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which chronicles a turbulent recording session with Ma Rainey (played by Davis), the “Mother of Blues,” and her band in 1920s Chicago. The film will be available to stream on December 18.

Photo:

Wolfe & Von; STYLING: Mugler bodysuit and dress; Fenty shoes; Grace Lee rings; Misho earrings

It’s not lost on Paige that it's an honor to appear alongside heavy hitters like Davis; a mention of the Academy Award–winning actress practically collapses Paige into a puddle of love and admiration. “I really had this moment when I had my table read with everybody. On one side of the table, it’s George C. Wolfe. On the other side of the table, it’s Denzel [Washington]. And in between, it’s Viola [Davis], Chadwick [Boseman], Colman [Domingo], Glynn [Turman], Michael [Potts], Dusan [Brown]… and I was like, ‘This is my frequency. It’s all a prayer. I’m here right now.’” But what no one on set could have known was that Boseman, who lost his battle to colon cancer just this summer, was delivering his final performance. “I feel very lucky that I got to be in his presence and learn from him and to play with him and be challenged by him,” Paige tells me. “He bowed out with such integrity and really left it all there in Levee.”

Photo:

Wolfe & Von; STYLING: Paco Rabanne top, skirt, cape, and boots

For Paige, it’s all about being present and living in the now, as they say, but there’s surely no denying the colorful road that has prepared her for the triumphs (and challenges) of this time. Paige’s story began in Inglewood, CA, the birthplace of countless snapshots of Black excellence, existence, resilience, and essence. Before joining the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, where she would train under the iconic choreographer for years to come and even go on to dance professionally, Paige was that kid gathering her family in the living room to perform dances she’d choreographed with her cousins. “I was always performing in my bedroom to my stuffed animals. I didn't realize that what I was doing in my little kingdom in my room was actually a job, I guess, feeling empathy, acting,” she says. “I just naturally gravitated toward storytelling and wanting to connect with people and wanting to understand—better understand myself and better understand the world around me.” Perhaps, it’s this call to continually dig deeper that inspired Paige to make the switch from dancing to acting. “Dancing helped me live out that question of, ‘What the hell am I?’” she tells me as we delved into the serendipitous series of events that altered her trajectory—a talent manager spotted her in a musical and signed her shortly thereafter.

Photo:

Wolfe & Von; STYLING: Paris Georgia top and skirt; Stuart Weitzman shoes; Misho earrings 

Dozens of roles and years of devotion to her craft paid off in a big way when, two years ago, Paige landed the titular role in the film adaptation of a raucous 2015 Twitter thread penned by A’ziah “Zola” King that set the entire internet ablaze. Not to sound like SNL’s Stefon, but this story has everything. It has exotic dancers. It has an ill-fated road trip. The movie version has Riley Keough and Nicholas Braun as the shifty couple who invite a total stranger on said road trip. It has… alleged homicide. (See? Everything.) The second she nabbed the part, it was go time, and Paige tells me she went as far as going undercover to work at L.A.’s Crazy Girls strip club for a month to prepare. “I mean, all my life, experiences prepared me for Zola,” she quips. “If someone told you you'd make $5000 tonight, most of us would—especially in your early 20s—be like, ‘hell yeah.’ I've been there. I've been desperate.” And even though the movie’s release date is still to be determined (yet another COVID snag), Paige is certain that it will hit at exactly the right moment. “By the time Zola comes, people are going to be like, ‘We are so ready for this.’” If the audience’s warm reception of the film at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered, is any indication, then yeah—it’s going to be huge.

Photo:

Wolfe & Von; STYLING: Gucci bra, bodysuit, and skirt; Zara boots; Misho earrings

There’s a certain assuredness Paige exudes that, for many, might feel impossible to achieve right now, especially considering all that’s going on, but the actress wears it extraordinarily well. Between a global pandemic and so many layers of civil unrest that have brought with them some painful lessons and a palpable, collective consciousness shift, the world is just a lot right now. But for Paige, this strife, especially as it pertains to Black people, is a source of hope, not defeat. “What a gift that I get to be a part of the awakening and a part of the awakeners,” she says with an impassioned tenor when I ask about the welcome (albeit late) shift in Hollywood toward more diverse casting and more dynamic storytelling by and about Black people and people of color. “I’d come back Black a million times. I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she tells me with a hopeful smile. “[I have] so much respect for those that have come before me who didn’t even get a taste of this. I definitely don't go many days without thinking about how lucky I am to be alive right now and doing what I'm doing.” Talk about perspective.

Photo:

Wolfe & Von; STYLING: Victoria Beckham dress and shoes; Misho earrings

 

 

And while the current state of the world has tossed many things up in the air, Paige says this universal pause has actually been a welcome retreat. With so much excitement on the horizon for her, you might think that slowing the momentum right now would cause some major discomfort. But she just turned 30—a milestone age to which humans have a habit of attaching a whole lot of undue stress—and she’s relishing in a new phase of freedom. “This was supposed to be [a time] where a lot of things were going to come out for me, and I’ve been waiting a long time, and I’ve had a lot of lulls in my career,” she explains. “But I think all that preparation, having all those lulls, just made this year feel like, ‘Okay, it’s fine. I can still work on me. I can still expand my mind. I’ll read. I’ll watch stuff. I’ll walk. I’m good. I’m fine.’”

The world may not ever return to the state of normalcy we once subscribed to, but Paige reminded me of a valuable lesson about adjusting expectations to fit shifting realities and always leading with the heart. “I just want to be good. I want to speak words of good,” she says. “All contrast is clarity to get back to yourself, to love yourself, and to love those around you.” If you ask me, that’s the real star quality.

Photographer: Wolfe & Von

Stylist: Lauren Eggertsen

Hairstylist: Nai’vasha

Makeup Artist: Molly R. Stern

Manicurist: Thuy Nguyen

CD: Alexa Wiley

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