“I think the fans can really be expected to be stressed out every Sunday,” Paige Audrey-Marie Hurd tells LA Confidential over a mid-November Zoom call.
The 29-year-old is referring to Season 2 of Power Book II: Ghost, which premiered on Nov. 21. A sequel series to Power, the Starz show follows Tariq St. Patrick (Michael Rainey) as he works to balance his drug operation with his education, love life and family affairs. The new episodes find Tariq still running from his father’s legacy and drifting further from his family, the very thing he’s been fighting to protect.
In Power, Hurd plays Lauren Baldwin, Tariq’s friend-turned-hot-and-cold romantic interest. More than that, Lauren is a smart, driven student at Stansfield University with a passion for activism. Hurd reveals that while Lauren was “very straight-edge” last season and really just did what her parents wanted, this time around, she’ll be making more of her own decisions.
“She's just figuring it out for herself,” she says. “And then as far as things with Tariq, it's just typical teenage stuff where you're into somebody you shouldn't be and you keep trying, but it's just a little roller coaster for them this season.”
Hurd finds fulfillment in playing Lauren because she is, in fact, nothing like her. Aside from the age difference, she points out how, unlike Lauren, she never went to college because she has been acting her whole life. She recalls auditioning for the role and being impressed by how smart Lauren is. In turn, Hurd had an epiphany about herself.
“I learned I am smarter than I think. I don’t think I give myself enough credit,” she says.
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“I just thank Courtney Kemp for giving all of us shots to portray our talent so that way when we’re moving on to bigger things and bigger movies and stuff, we have a good chance in the room,” Hurd later adds.
She brings up that, even though the world is diverse, she is often asked what it’s like for Power to have such a diverse cast.
“[It’s] kind of weird to me that there's not more opportunities for young Black people to be leading characters when they’re leading characters in real life,” Hurd says. “You look at the news, you see a lot of Black people and it may not always be in the best light, but those are stories, so those should also be on TV.”
The necessity of Power is further reflected by its zealous fanbase. Whether reading tweets or running into fans while out and about in New York, Hurd has witnessed their passion first-hand.
“When I’m reading the scripts and we’re doing the episodes, I get a little freaked out because I’m just thinking about how they’re going to eat me up online,” she says.
Still, not all fan interactions are so intense.
“I really appreciate when people come up to me and compliment me just about anything because … half the time I'm speaking or anything, it just really feels like it's God speaking through me. Sometimes I'll speak and I'm like, ‘Wow, what was that?’ But I know it was God and just keeping [me] humble and grounded,” Hurd says.
Not even 30, the actor has already been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. As a kid, Hurd booked a role on Barney & Friends, uprooting her life from Dallas, Texas to, eventually, Los Angeles. Upon moving to California, she landed on the WB’s Felicity and later became known as Tasha Clarkson on Everybody Hates Chris. She’s also appeared on Hawaii Five-O, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and The George Lopez Show, among others.
Over her career, Hurd has learned working in entertainment is hard and can get pretty dark. Her faith became instrumental during a period in which she wasn’t landing roles.
“I watched my friends just start blowing up in front of my eyes and I was just sitting here,” Hurd says. “There were nights where I just had to literally get on the floor, cry and just pray and ask for healing, patience, not to envy others and to just stay on the path that He has for me.”
Hurd devoted 2020 to reading The Bible. It was a goal she had already set out on before the pandemic began, which ended up giving her plenty of free time to get through the thousand-plus pages. She explains that with her faith, she’s “still 100% learning” and wants to dive back into The Bible after drifting a bit following the passing of her godfather, Earl Simmons, otherwise known as legendary hip hop artist DMX.
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In 2003, Hurd made her film debut in Cradle 2 the Grave as Vanessa, the on-screen daughter to DMX’s character, Anthony Fait. Her performance kicked off a number of movie roles, which have since included The Cat in the Hat, Beauty Shop and A Girl Like Grace. She aims to dive more into film, hoping to tackle a project akin to the psychological drama Girl, Interrupted.
She also hopes to do more behind-the-camera work, particularly with directing. This year for the first time ever, she served as both lead actor and executive producer on a project, which she’s also interested in doing more of.
“Juggling the two was interesting,” Hurd says. “I’m not going to say it was easy. It was stressful, but [the movie] came together so beautifully.”
The movie in question, Who is Christmas Eve?, debuted on Nov. 21 on Bounce TV. It tells the story of Eve Simmons (Hurd), who was abandoned as an infant on the steps of a church on Christmas Eve. In an attempt to move forward with her life, she sets out to find her birth parents with the help of a famed investigative genealogist.
“I think this [movie] is special because there is an element outside of the Christmas feel and the romance that we always get in these movies,” Hurd says. “We're all just trying to figure out how to make ourselves whole and that's what [Eve is] doing throughout the whole movie. So I think that it can touch people, no matter what they're going through.”
“The biggest thing for me was being able to portray [this story] for adoptees and I hope that I did it justice,” she adds.
Like her character Eve, Hurd is finding her ground. After so many years in the industry, she’s redefining what acting means to her.
“I'm really falling in love with it,” Hurd says. “There was a moment where I was done. I was tired of it. I didn't want to do it anymore. And if you asked me I was just like, ‘I'm just paying my bills.’ But I'm finding myself falling back in love with this and being like, ‘Okay, this is what I love to do.’
Photography by: JSQUARED Photography