Welcome back to Pain to Purpose. I’m your host Rebekah Gregory. I hope you’re having a fantastic week. I am so excited to be back with you today. And we’re going to have a lot of fun on today’s episode. I have got Page Kennedy joining us and Page is an actor, a comedian and rapper. He’s best known for portraying Radon Randall in the Spike sports comedy series Blue Mountain State. Do you guys remember him? And of course U-Turn in the Showtime series Weeds. He’s also starred in films with roles in SWAT and then Meg and Page was a huge Vine star. Now he is big on TikTok as well, which is how he and I were introduced. So he’s just led in a completely amazing, interesting life. And there’s so much wisdom that we can pull from him… and he truly embodies the pain to purpose spirit too. So without further ado, here’s Page.
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So I am pumped today because I have got actor, comedian, and rapper Page Kennedy joining us on Pain to Purpose. And Page and I have bonded over the app TikTok, which about a couple months ago, and we started going back and forth because TikTok was taking down our videos… So Page, it’s an honor for you to join us today on the show.
I’m happy to be here. I thought that we bonded just you know, like, I love your videos so much, but I remember, Yes, we did bond because, well, I’m sure they take my videos off more than yours. I probably should try to rely on a little more than you do. Like your videos being taken off is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know why or how they would ever do that to you. Me? I can kind of understand how some of my things get taken off.
Yeah, they just have a problem with me having one leg, I don’t know. It’s crazy, but I try to have fun with it… but apparently, TikTok doesn’t appreciate that very much.
That was the one with the dinosaur… where my husband dressed up as a dinosaur and I hit him with my prosthetic legs. Okay, what’s funny though, I have to tell everyone that you sent me an email before our conversation and you said, Just a heads up, I need to make sure I don’t embarrass myself. I’m not exactly PG and I just started laughing so hard because that’s part of what makes you, you. And I think what people really love is the fact that you just tell it like it is. And you’re silly and entertaining, and you’ve really made a name for yourself. So I don’t want you to be any other way except who you are in your authentic self.
Yeah, okay. Well, good.
So, tell me how you got started in all of this. I know that you went to acting school, right? But you were born in Detroit, and then grew up in Los Angeles. So take me back to the young Page.
The young Page… so I was born in Detroit. And then at two months old, my mom took me from Detroit to California where I stayed till I was six. And then she was having twins, and she was very young. My dad was much older than her, 20 years older than her. And so I was the oldest of my mom’s kids and the youngest of my dad’s kids, and so she sent me back to Detroit with him. So from the time I was six, and I lived in Detroit when my dad and my mom came back to Detroit when I was 10. So then they were not together, but I would go back and forth to you know, their places, but my dad was pretty much my primary parent for the most part of my life. And you know, I grew up in Detroit, those circumstances of being in Detroit, inner-city, my dad… he died when I was 16. I’ve been on my own since then, because that’s who I was living with.
Yeah, so I pretty much did everything myself, like from finishing high school alone at 16 to 17. And then I went to college… a community college, Grand Rapids Community College. I went there by myself and then ended up going to Western Michigan University for theater. And then I wanted to continue my education because my dad had gotten his master’s degree because he was a doctor. He was so big on education for me that, for the most part, I went on because I knew that it would make him proud, and he did so much, you know, to instill education in me. So that was part of the reason, but the other part of reason is, I wanted to be a great actor. I didn’t want to just be good and just garden variety. I wanted to be great like one of the best actors ever. And so because of that, I wanted to continue my education. I love learning. And so I went to graduate school at the University of Delaware for Shakespeare, because Shakespeare is my favorite playwright. I love his stories. And I love language; I love words. And he gets to give me all of those gifts, great stories, great words, great poetry. And I’m also a rapper too. So he kind of spoke to me in that way… because the way I make music is like, I don’t really make dance, or popular music, I make music that means something and I make music that tells stories that have concepts, and they’re interested in and they focus on the literature and the words and the phrasing and all of that.
So that’s why we’re so connected to Shakespeare, who initially I did not like because I didn’t understand him at first. So I think the first class that I had to do Shakespeare in they made us read Midsummer Night’s Dream. And I couldn’t even get past the first paragraph. Because I was like, What is this? I don’t talk like this. I don’t understand it. And my teacher friends bosky at the time, he was like, you should love Shakespeare. He was the first rapper, and I started to understand the story, then I could start to appreciate it more and figure out what the words mean. Like it took a while to understand, but then I just fell in love with it. And so that’s why I chose to go to that school. But I ended up leaving that school early to move to California to start my career as an actor because they were teaching me to do great works on great stages. But I knew I wanted to be a movie star. And I knew I needed my youth. So I just came, I came here, I slept on a friend’s couch from college, and I snuck into an audition at Sony studios that I had heard about from an actor. I did the Idaho Shakespeare Festival the summer before… and right place right time, I got cast in a pilot called the Kennedys. And that’s what got me started in Hollywood. I got to bypass the normal way that people had to go about like being extra, being small roles, like student-directed films, all this stuff that people normally have to do when they first get here… to get an agent. I bypassed all of that, because I snuck into an audition at Sony studios, and they cast me as a series regular on a CBS pilot; that pilot didn’t get picked up, but it got me an agent and got me being able to legitimize myself. And then you know, I’ve been going ever since then, and that was in 2001. So we’re coming up on 20 years of me being in Los Angeles and in the business.
That’s incredible. There’s so many different parts of what you just said that I kind of want to unpack a little bit more because you could have easily chosen a different route in terms of not finishing your education when your dad died… I mean that’s, that’s traumatic to have go through that. And then for you to say you’re going to finish not only High School, but go to college, continue your education after. And then I love what you said about Shakespeare and how it really played into you rapping because I’ve looked up several of your songs and I can definitely see that in there. There’s so much meaning behind what you’re talking about. And you know that it’s not just words that you’re stringing together, it comes from the heart,it’s a feeling.. emotion.. and so it makes sense and that’s why I love these conversations because I never would have known that listening to your rap songs that you are such a big fan of Shakespeare. That is so cool.
Yeah, I’m a huge fan of, you know, it’s funny, I tried to express that part of me online, but you know, it’s, it’s tough because I enjoy doing it. I enjoy showing people that I can do it. The people that actually watch it, they enjoy it, but it just doesn’t get the traction as me like walking with Legos and my shoes and having them out. That gets amazing traction. Me doing King Lear gets nothing.
I still do it anyway, because I just didn’t I just enjoy expressing myself that way. Like Shakespeare allows me to act in a way that I don’t get to act in movies and television because of the language because of what I get to do with the language and how I get expressed. It’s like when I’m acting in movies and television, the man back there I’m playing this character is me playing myself and he’s given circumstances for the most part. So it’s like myself, but when I do Shakespeare, it’s like the only time where I really get to, like, kind of jump into a character that’s created and, and I get to, like, really emote and I get to dramatize the situation, which I don’t really do as much in my acting is more natural. But it’s just fun to do. It’s fun to say, big, amazing, beautiful words and like you said in my music. I have a lot of imagery and my words and then the way that I choose to write my lyrics to express something visually. I got that from Shakespeare, because he’ll take a whole sequence like five sentences to describe something, you know, so that you can visualize it perfectly. And so a lot of times I do that too. I want you to be able to without even having to see a video if you listen to the song, you could just imagine it.
Yeah, you definitely are doing a good job of that for sure. And so you snuck into this audition and it changed the course of your life because you were in the pilot that didn’t get picked up. So what happened after that?
After that, I was getting auditions for movies. And I kept losing to rappers, ironically, because you know, they were popular and I was brand new. And so I just kept getting different TV shows and I would just book jobs like on The Shield or on Boston Legal or all of these, you know, cop dramas. On Six Feet Under I played a football player. And then I got my first movie was leprechaun back to the zoo? I’m pretty sure you’ve heard other leprechaun series I have. Yeah. Yeah. So it was like part two of the ‘in the hood’ version of it. That was my first acting role in the movie. And it was a big part and I was a horror movie, and I didn’t die in it, which is awesome. And then, two weeks after that, I started filming SWAT, which was my first big blockbuster movie, my first summer blockbuster movie with LL Cool J, Samuel Jackson, Colin Farrell, Jeremy Renner. I mean, they had everybody in this thing. So to go from doing a low budget movie that was entirely filmed in 14 days. Today, I’m going to do a big huge movie that takes six months to film was like completely different. And so it was awesome.
So I just continue to, you know, do a lot of TV shows, do series regulars on things. I was on Blue Mountain State as a series regular on there, I did Weeds; a lot of people are big fans of the show Weeds and I play U-Turn on there. I just continue to, you know, to do my acting and stuff. And then the time came, like my music. It was before if you didn’t have a record deal, then you couldn’t really get your music out to the masses, you know, but then the internet came and that changed everything. Because then you no longer needed a record label to get your music out into the world because everything was streaming. And so what I did is in 2017, after I finished doing American New Zealand, I took all my active money and put it right back into myself. And I spent a lot of money on putting out my own albums and, and getting the features that I want and making the beats that I want and making the album as awesome as possible. And I put out my first album called “Turn Pages.” And it’s really like just the pages out of the book of my life and like everything that is moved.
Yeah. Was there ever a point like I’m just sitting here thinking about this thinking about you in these big movies and TV shows? Did you ever look around and just think like… I’ve made it… this is it. When was the point that you looked around and you’re just like, man, look at what I’ve done.
So, you know, it’s difficult to reflect on things when you’re in the moment. And I learned that because the greatest acting experience I’ve ever had in my life was I played Bigger Thomas in a play called the Native Son when I was an undergrad, and we took that play to competition, and we had to perform it at this big beautiful theater in Milwaukee, where all of the students and the directors and the plays from all of the other plays nominated in the whole region, all collectively, when at the same place, you got to put your play up. You got to do it, you got to strike it all within the circle time limit, you know, and there were other plays there, which were not that great, but our play went last.
Our play was incredible. If you’ve never heard of the book, it was a book called Native Son by Richard Wright. It was about this black kid. He was going down the wrong track. He had a mom that he lived with, and his little brother and his little sister. And he had to go out and try to help support the family and he ends up being the chauffeur for this white family. This family had a daughter that was similar in age to him. And she was like a radical; she was rebellious. And she likes to go to these like communist parties and all of this stuff. And one time she made the character drive her to one of the parties to see like a boy that she liked, etc. And she got so drunk that Bigger the character had to drive her home and help her to her room because that’s how drunk she got… He was super nervous about that because obviously he’s not supposed to be in the house up there and she got super drunk.
And he helped her to her room in her bed, but her mom is blind. So the mom heard her come home late.
And the mom is blind and she starts to come to the room like, Hey, are you home? And because Bigger was in the room, and he knew that if he was ever caught in the room, even though he was just helping her that he would be in super trouble. So once she starts to try to like talk like that, he tried to put the pillow over a face so that, you know, to muffle her sound why he’s like looking at the mommies basically, like stuck looking at the mom, because the mom can’t see him but she’s right there at the door. And he’s like holding the pillow over, and the mom is like saying whatever she’s saying. And then when the mom walks off. And he moves the pillow and killed her. So now he’s like, Nah, you don’t know what the hell to do cuz now he’s killed this woman by mistake. And a lot of times what we do as human beings when we make a big huge mistake and then we try and clean it up we make an even bigger mistake. So no pun intended. So he ends up taking the body to the cellar and burning it trying to get rid of it and he gets caught and it’s a whole thing. So this play is very complex, and it’s amazing. The book is amazing. I think they just recently made a movie about it called Native Son.
So I played that lead character, and it blew the house down and like I’ve never received an ovation like that before where I come at the end. And, and this is like I said, this is all my peers… this is students, directors like all the people who do the same stuff that I do, and they’re just screaming and crying. And I’m looking out into this big huge theater that I’ve never performed in before, someplace like that. And I’m just seeing everybody bawling, and screaming and yelling, and I’m like, Oh my god, I tried to leave the stage. They don’t stop clapping, and my cast pushes me back out there again. I’m just like, oh my god.
So after it, obviously, everyone’s talking to me. And one of the professors from some other school, he was like, Look, I won’t take much of your time. I just want to tell you something real quick. He was like, I know a lot is going on right now. But I just want you to take a moment to reflect on this now in this moment, so that you place the specifics of it in your brain. So when you look back at it again, they will be there. And they will be, like vivid. And then you actually get to experience this moment now as opposed to just going through it. And so when he said that I was like, Damn, okay, so as it was happening, I had a whole different appreciation of it, because I was reflecting on how awesome this is, while it was happening, as opposed to just, you know, kind of going through the motions of it and thinking about it later.
And so, I said all of that to say that, I think for me, a lot of times, because we’re humans, and we always want to grow, we always want to get better. We always want to push forward. If I get a big role, I’m on set and I’m thinking, What’s next? What am I going to do next? Like what do I get to, you know, as opposed to, you know, sometimes you have to just sit and just be grateful and thankful for the moment that you’re in and have that moment and appreciate it.
Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with Page Kennedy.