Paige Audrey Marie Hurd is letting it be known that she is not just the "girl next door." Although those roles earlier in her career have led to her success in acting, as a maturing talent, she is reintroducing herself to...

The Dallas, TX native has been in the spotlight since she was four years old when she started modeling. Later, she caught her big break at age eight alongside the late rap icon DMX in the 2003 film Cradle 2 the Grave. Her close bond with DMX, born Earl Simmons, was formed after the two had an instant connection on set. "People think that he was my godfather [before the film], and that's how I started in the industry, but I actually asked him to be my dad while we were filming."

After countless roles in film and television between starring alongside Queen Latifah in Beauty Shop and guest starring on shows such as Disney's Suite Life of Zack & Cody, Hurd later landed her first recurring role. In 2006, Hurd joined the cast of the Chris Rock-produced sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. The show starred Tyler James Williams, Terry Crews, and Tichinia Arnold, while Rock narrated the semi-autobiographical show that reminisced on his teenage years. Hurd played Tasha Clarkson, Williams' love interest on the sitcom.

Currently, Williams plays Gregory on the ABC mockumentary Abbott Elementary, and since the two have worked together for several years, Hurd says she would totally be down to guest star.

"I think I've thought about that once, but it would be funny if we don't even acknowledge my character Tasha. I could have this quick little thing where everybody kind of looks at me sideways, and if you get it you get it."

Even in the case where there were talks of a possible reboot, Hurd is open to the idea. "I would do anything with Tyler James Williams again," Hurd exclaimed. "You know if, if Tyler is up for it, I'm up for it. Whatever he wants, I would do. He's one of my dear friends. I am so proud of him, and I love him so much." In the past couple of years, Hurd has graced our television screens on two hit-breaking shows.

She starred in Tyler Perry's The Oval, where she played Gayle Franklin, the President's daughter, and in 50 Cent's Power Book II: Ghost as Lauren Baldwin alongside Michael Rainey Jr. However, in between the ending of Everybody Hates Chris, and the filming of the two aforementioned television shows, the actress got candid on how appreciative she was to land these large roles after playing a long waiting game.

"I'm very grateful to be where I'm at now because I had success as a child. After Everybody Hates Chris I didn't work for a very long time. I had guest stars here and there, but The Oval and Power were my things back, and so that was like a good, eight years that I didn't have the jobs that I wanted and that will humble you real quick."

She emphasized to aspiring actors interested in making the leap into Hollywood that keeping a strong foundation is the key to success.

"When you get into [the industry] get something that grounds you so that as soon as you make it you're not a completely different person and you lose yourself. I really wish people knew that part of it. I see a lot of people out here get some type of success and they get so cocky. They don't realize you can be humbled in the blink of an eye. You will have cold seasons and you will have up seasons. So it's very important that when you have your up season that you're not looking down on anybody else because you know your time will come that you will have to sit down for a little while and watch others do their thing too."

Hurd made it known that she, too, is still a work in progress when it comes to dealing with the not-so-glamorous sides of Hollywood. "I feel like learning not to take the rejection personally is something that I'm still trying to do. But I feel that if you can master that before you even start, you will just be so much happier. It's really hard not to take that rejection home in your personal life because when you're constantly getting rejected and overlooked, you know, at some point, that takes a toll on you, and this business is literally going on a job interview every single day of the year. So imagine going on a job interview 365 days a year, and you get maybe three yeses. There are times when you're not going to work for years, and I think that it's really important that you find something outside of this that makes you happy."

After just celebrating a huge milestone of 24 years in the industry in 2022, the actress is paving her own way to solidifying her legacy. Staying true to her advice given to other aspiring actors, her outside "happy place" has always been her lifelong mission to normalize creating safe spaces for the special needs community to thrive. Hurd's passion for advocating for those with special needs started at a young age. "[At school] seeing the kids who had special needs sitting at their own table and nobody would ever go over there would just break my heart. This was in third grade, and I just didn't understand why this was happening."

The arrival of her youngest brother Pierce, who has Down Syndrome, also continued her passion for her special needs advocacy.

"My mom was pregnant with her last child, and he has Down Syndrome. So that was really exciting for me, and from then on, I just thought that this was a sign. It's just something that's really important to me to let them know that they, too, have opportunities and that they shouldn't be isolated. I don't like that at all. It really breaks my heart that they have to be isolated and that anybody who is considered normal would be rude or mean to them because they are so loving and kind and sweet and talented. That's going to be my big life's project is giving them equal opportunity."

Alongside being a pillar of positivity and change for the special needs community, Hurd also champions mental health awareness. Having used therapy as a tool throughout her life, she feels that it is important for everyone to have access to and to remain transparent on social media and off.

"I started to understand in therapy what my feelings were and how the depression or the anxiety would make me feel the way I did. Sometimes it just felt so heavy that I just wanted to advocate just to let people know. I think they have this weird thing that if you're an actor and you're in the spotlight that everything is perfect. That's one thing I really don't like about social media. I wish more people would just be honest and show a little bit. They don't have to show their bad days, but at least touch on them to let other people know that it's not all perfect. So I just want to be a person that people can relate to. I know I won't be able to touch everybody. I won't be able to speak with everybody and help everybody, but at least they know that what they're feeling is not abnormal."

The next time we will see Hurd on the screen will be her role in the film Russ and Dru alongside Megan Good and Terrance J with Good directing. Hurd will be playing Good's cousin in the film. Russ and Dru does not have a set premiere date at this time. Shooting further into the future, to be exact, 10 years, Hurd says, "I'll be 40. I feel like the running joke I have with people is that I finally feel like I'll be able to play 20 or 30 years old on TV. Hopefully, I'm able to play somewhere close to my age. That's a dream of mine."

She added that her career goals do not stop at acting, "If I'm going behind the camera, I definitely would like to direct or maybe even help writing. I don't think I would ever fully commit to writing a full script, but you know, you never know. Power made me want to help write a little bit and just sit in a writer's room and watch that process, but definitely direct because I think I have a good eye for it."

And as for the "girl next door roles," those will hopefully be a thing of the past. The star admitted that " it's fun, but it's it's getting tired" and that she is ready to challenge herself to new heights. "I don't think I've had the opportunity to fully show what I know I'm capable of as an adult. I don't think I've had that opportunity, so I'm looking forward to somebody taking that chance. So I can, you know, show them what got."


GET TO KNOW OUR COVERGIRL

C: You are stranded on Compulsive Island; what three items do you need?
P: Chapstick, rice, and reality TV.

C: What is your guilty shopping pleasure?
P: Purses. Everybody who knows me will tell you without a doubt she has an issue with buying purses.

C: What is one place you want to travel to that you haven't yet?
P: I have been trying to travel to Tulum, Mexico, for years.

C: How do you like to spend your time off set?
P: I'm a really chill homebody person but I really like going out to dinner and bowling too.

C: What are some songs you have on rotation right now?
P:"Willing to trust" by Kid Cudi and Ty Dolla $ign. That actually kind of goes into my mood for 2023. "Shot For Me" and "Nice For What" by Drake are truly always going to be like some of my biggest anthems. Lastly, I've just really been into my old-school music lately, so I'll choose "Love Should Have Brought You Home" by Toni Braxton. I don't know why. It's just that good.

C: What are three words you are manifesting to describe how you want your 2023 to go?
P: Balance, Discernment, and Gentleness.


— Photos by Arnold Turner, Hair Stylist Angela Perrantes, MUA Gabriela Lara, Stylist Breona Moore, Accessories by Lottie Wallace

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