We had the good fortune of connecting with Paige Elson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paige, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
As an artist pursuing a career in the entertainment industry, you are often met with the pressure that you are “not doing enough” to be successful. After all, they say working in entertainment is a “hustle” and there is an expectation that any free time you have should be spent working on a creative endeavor. I have lived this way for many years, feeling stressed that I needed to constantly be “productive” and that I should never have a moment of rest. The industry changed in March of 2020 when the country shut down due to Covid-19, but one idea that remained was that everyone in entertainment should continue to be productive at home because we had “more time” now. The global pandemic drastically shifted my mindset and had the reverse effect on me. I was reminded that our life on Earth is temporary and we should value the time we spend. After the initial anxiety of trying to remain “productive” at home, I started to be more forgiving towards myself. I started talking to my loved ones more. I started spending time enjoying hobbies again. I started to be intentional with what I make and what I want to do, opposed to doing something just because it’s what I “should be doing.” I value my time, the time it takes to create something, and what I put out into the world. Therefore, to achieve everything I want to, it’s necessary for me to find a work/life balance instead of running on empty in all facets of my life like I was previously doing. Although the balance often shifts and I still have to work on incorporating time for rest in my life, I have come to learn that my work is better when I give myself time to enjoy other things. It’s a daily practice, but I have learned to value rest. I have been blessed to reassess my values during this time and work on some things I am proud of.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What I am currently most excited about is a pop culture podcast that I and my dear friend Imia Hawkins have been working on. It is called This is a Moment and we launched in February. Imia and I are big TV, movie, and music nerds and we love to geek out over artists we love. If you love that too and like to talk about moments that shook pop culture, you should take a listen. Some topics we’ve discussed include ANTM, That’s So Raven, Mariah Carey, Queen Latifah, Movie Musicals, Red Carpet Fashion, and more. Subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts or follow us on Spotify if you love funny Black women! Another project I am very proud of is a comedic short film of mine, Drunk Girl Therapist, because it premiered at the 22nd annual San Francisco Black Film Festival and was accepted into a handful of other festivals as well. I felt proud that I had a goal and actually achieved it. It was the first short film I made and I learned so much about the filmmaking process.
At the root of what I make, I love to create stories and or comedy sketches that come from a very personal point of view. I am usually tackling subjects that deal with being biracial, Black, or a woman (and more often than not, all three of those) but I like to do it while putting a smile on your face. Comedy is at the root of everything I do because life is just more fun when you can laugh about it. I like to write/perform from a personal place and tackle nuance and intersectionality because that’s always what I wish I saw more of growing up. I think everyone wants to feel “seen” in TV and Film and I hope to do that for other people like myself.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If my friend was visiting LA (and the city was fully open again) I would probably make their trip all about food and take them to some great food spots. Some fun places we’d go to are: Orochon Ramen in Little Tokyo, Egg Slut in Grand Central Market, brunch at Hamburger Mary’s, Lily’s Malibu (included with a fun beach trip), Thai Angel in KoreaTown (get the KraPow and tell me it didn’t change your life), Sage in Echo Park (so they can feel the full vegan artist vibes), Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Inglewood (the best location), and Beignet Box (Black owned business, heeyy). I would also take them to The Last Bookstore, The Broad, and the California African American Museum so we can enrich our lives and feel like intellectuals. Pre-covid I would go to a lot of indie art shows, comedy shows, and fun events, so hopefully something fun that like would be happening and we could have a grand ole time. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A little cliche, but I would like to shout out my mom because she is always encouraging me and gives me the confidence to believe in myself. Also thank you to my wonderful friends Khalil Slim, Imia Hawkins, Lorraine DeGraffenreidt, and Nyah Wilson who have offered me countless support whether it’s reading my scripts, helping me with auditions, bouncing ideas off each other, or being someone that I can vent to. I am lucky to have found supportive, generous, and creative friends that make navigating this world much more fun. You should also check out their work because they’re all geniuses.
Another big challenge of being a creative is having financial support. I would like to also shout out the following programs and people who have helped me grow my craft by offering resources and mentorship: the Hillman Grad Mentorship program created by Lena Waithe, the Connect the Writer’s community created by Jo Firestone & Lauren Mandel, and Hollywood Here Inc, as well Susan Fales-Hill, Shukri Abdi, and my fellow Black creatives from Upright Citizens Brigade who became a huge support to me throughout 2020. I love this shift in the industry where more people are sharing information and giving access to paths that previously felt hidden and I hope it continues. Most of my jobs have come from the people named above and I feel blessed to be in such great company!
Khalil Slim took IMG-3616 and IMG-0826. Jayk Gallagher did the poster art for Drunk Girl Therapist.