"Music allows me to draw from my own reality" | Paige Meade on acting vs rapping, as she talks to us about new UK battle rap film 'VS.'
Bright-eyed and full of smiles, Paige explains that her fresh face is a result of luck, following only four hours sleep and missing the Addison Lee booked for her that morning to arrive at the press event for new film, 'VS.'
Paige Meade, known to most by her stage name, Paigey Cakey brushes off her tiredness to explain to me why she's so excited about this film. "Sometimes I look back at things I've done and I cringe a bit - but I know this film is good, I want everyone to see it," she says excitedly.
'VS.' arriving in cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland, is a British BBC Productions film, set in South End. It follows the story of Adam, played by rising British talent Connor Swindells, a foster-teen who finds his voice in the world of UK battle rap.
To many, battle rap is a form of hip hop that is considered to be very American, but Paige explains the eye-opening research she conducted once she had accepted the role of Miss Quotes, one of the few female battle rappers in the film. “I thought it was very American too but then I did my research. I’m very visual when it comes to learning so I would sit and watch videos on YouTube, especially Shotty Horroh. It was nice because he’s one of the best battle rappers in the world, he’s from the UK but he’s also in the film so it was nice to have him on hand.” And she’s not wrong – the cast does include critically acclaimed battle rapper Shotty Horroh, as well as British acting newcomers Joivan Wade and Fola Evans-Akingbola.
The film is a stellar blend of great acting and storytelling, and hard-hitting music – and being a female rapper from Hackney who also acts, the film was close to home. Smiling coyly when asked whether she had more love for one industry over the other, her answer is assertive. “Film is great because it allows me to escape from real life and take on a role, but music allows me to draw from my own reality and spread my message, so I’m grateful for both.”
However, she’s careful not to over-glamorise both industries, and tells me about the difficulties being a black woman in both, retelling a casting experience she was in, not too long ago. The casting called for “mixed race girls” but when Paige, who is of mixed race heritage turned up to audition, she found she was the only mixed race actress there. Paige didn’t end up getting the role – but when she followed up, she found that the casting had been altered and the role had been offered to a white actress. “I never really thought about colour in acting before then – I just didn’t have to. But that really opened my eyes.”
And that isn’t the first time Paige has had to speak on issues that transcend the acting and music industry. In November 2017, Paige revealed that she had undergone a hair transplant procedure after she had been suffering from traction alopecia since the age of 18. Brave and unwavering, she stands by her decision to share the details of the process and her condition – “I’m glad I spoke out about it because a lot of these procedures are brushed over and a lot of people, particularly black women, are suffering from traction alopecia.” Describing the response as overwhelming but largely positive, it’s clear to me that Paige has no regrets on using her platform to help others.
We end our chat full circle, quickly remarking on the long day she has ahead of her, filled with interviews for the film’s release. ‘VS.’, which hits cinemas on Friday, October 19th (tomorrow) is a great film. Gritty and emotional, with the ability to immerse the viewer in the largely overlooked world of UK battle rap.
Check out the official ‘VS.’ film trailer below and be sure to head to the cinema this weekend.