TIFF 2022 Conversations: Paige Evans

#TIFF22 sees the première of Something You Said Last Night, a film telling the story of twentysomething aspiring writer Ren (Carmen Madonia) and her younger sister Siena (Paige Evans) reluctantly accompany their parents on a family vacation. They aren’t exactly excited, and it doesn’t help that their wildly nostalgic mother Mona (Ramona Milano) cranks up Italian pop tunes, old family favourites, and demands everyone sing along. Once there, Siena drinks and carouses all night long. The more reserved Ren, who is trans, is left to her own devices. Just fired and woefully short of cash, she is forced to spend time with her deliriously happy parents, hang around the apartment vaping and utilizing the free activities the resort offers — all targeted towards children or seniors.

The film premiered over the weekend and stars a cast of ACTRA Toronto Members described by TIFF as “uniformly excellent“, including Carmen Madonia, Paige Evans, Ramona Milano, Joey Parro, Augustus Oicle, Carmelo Nelson, Mi’de Woon-A-Tai, Atticus DaSilva-Déiseach, Lorcan DaSilva-Déiseach and Anna Starnino. We were able to have a chat with performer Paige Evans about her role in this exciting new film.

ACTRA Toronto: What drew you to the role of Siena? What fascinated you about the character?

Paige: Initially, when I first read for Siena I thought I butchered the audition because I didn’t connect to the character right away. I started my process of creating Siena and realized I am in fact, too much like Siena. I don’t know what to do in life, I’m figuring out relationships, I’m yearning for independence, dealing with being comfortable in my own skin. That’s what fascinated me about her. I needed to bring all of those normal day inner thoughts to life without telling the audience that’s what’s going on mentally with the character.

ACTRA Toronto: Tell us about Something You Said Last Night. What made the film intriguing to you?

Paige: Something You Said Last Night follows a mid 20s girl named Ren and her overbearing but beautiful family to a resort in Ontario. While being away, the realities of everyday life are starting to break down the walls of this family. It deals with family, struggling to find independence while still living at home, career struggles, learning to be there for family, and love. It’s written and directed by a transgender woman, and stars a transgender woman but it is not about being a transgender woman. It’s about Ren figuring out how to be a daughter. A sister, an independent. How to stand up for herself. That’s what sets this film apart of any film I’ve seen. It’s just so raw and real. What drew me to this film was the family. I relate to every character in that family. Everyone has a different inner battle they are facing and while it isn’t spoon fed to the audience (which is very refreshing) it shows that every human is always battling an inner demon but some don’t always verbalize it.

ACTRA Toronto:  What was it like working with this great cast on the film?

Paige: Working with this cast has truly been an honour. I learnt more from being on this set than any acting class, book or schooling could have ever taught me. Watching these actors work was a free masterclass in acting. I am a better human, a better sister, daughter, and actor because of this film and for that I will be forever grateful.

ACTRA Toronto: What does being an ACTRA member mean to you?

Paige: I started acting when I was just shy of 5 when I performed Hakuna Matata (all the characters by the way) on my family room couch to my mom and her video camera. I fell in love with the way acting made me feel. Nothing and everything all at once. I got my first agent when I was 12 and didn’t book a single thing until I was 19. When you get years of rejection you feel like you will never achieve the dreams in your head. Then, I was sick of doubting myself. My worth, my talent, my drive. So, I changed my narrative. I started telling myself I CAN book that job. Not I CAN’T book that job. I CAN become union. I CAN go to TIFF. Being an ACTRA member makes 5 year old me, performing on my couch feel seen. I am protected. I am loved. I am valued. My voice matters. I will forever and always be a PROUD Canadian actor and a proud ACTRA member.

ACTRA Toronto: What’s on the horizon for you?

Paige: As an actor I get this question a lot. I think as actors we always want to prove people wrong and make them seem like it’s this picture perfect career. So here’s the truth. What’s on the horizon for me? I have no idea. And that’s fine. I don’t have life figured out. I don’t have another job lined up after TIFF. I’m not auditioning left, right snd centre. AND THATS FINE! I want to normalize telling people that HEY I DONT HAVE EVERYTHING FIGURED OUT. AND THATS FINE. I wish I could tell you I booked a role in a Steven Spielberg film but that is not my reality just YET. One day 🙂 but for today, I am just trying to figure out how to exist in this world.