Regé-Jean Page, who recently gained notoriety for his breakout role in the Netflix drama Bridgerton, is this year's winner of the NAACP Outstanding Actor In a Drama Series. With his striking features and irrefutable acting skills, it was just a matter of time before the 31-year-old actor found himself on the verge of superstardom.
He received his first big break in 2016 when he was cast as Chicken George in the History Channel's TV miniseries, Roots. Two years later, he landed the role of Leonard Knox in the show For The People. The global pandemic that started in 2020 was a pivotal moment for him, especially with the Christmastime release of Bridgerton to a captive audience of folks looking for a distraction from the realities of lockdown life. “It premiered on Christmas, so everyone was at home, everyone in the world watched it, and it exploded,” Jimmy Fallon said in an interview with him on The Tonight Show. “It is at the peak of pop culture.”
Indeed, Page’s smouldering sex scenes as Bridgerton’s mysterious Duke of Hastings certainly held viewers’ attention. Besides the NAACP Image Award, he was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for his work on series, which Netflix announced as its "biggest series ever".
Here are 10 things to know about the NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Most folks find his name hard to pronounce. He broke down the pronunciation in 2017 in a tweet, where he explained that Regé is pronounced like reggae, and Jean is pronounced (jhawn in a French accent). His last name is simply pronounced as page.
He is the son of a Black Zimbabwean nurse and an English preacher, and he grew up in London, according to the BBC. “I spent my whole life figuring out how to be different people. Zimbabwe's one of the youngest countries in the world; it became independent from British colonialism in the 1980s," he told Interview in 2016. "In America you can still feel the echoes of slavery, and Zimbabwe is very much feeling the echoes of British colonial rule. It's very hard to craft an identity in that environment as a young, mixed raced man. I learned from the age of three that I was a walking political statement. Just by walking around with my face, I was saying, 'My parents did a fairly revolutionary thing that p****s off some of you.'"
He studied acting at Drama Centre London where he graduated in 2013. The school boasts a long list of other notable alumni including Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Russell Brand.
SUCCESS CAME EARLY
According to the BBC, he began acting at age 14 in London. "I went to a Saturday school where you would do an hour of dancing, an hour of acting, and an hour of singing," he told Interview. "It's basically childcare – 'Get my loud, attention-seeking child out of my hair for three hours.' I was loud and attention-seeking enough that they put me on their agency on the side. That was my hobby; that was my paper route.” He earned his first series regular role in the 10th and final season of BBC high school drama Waterloo Road, where played trainee teacher, Guy Braxton. Check out a scene from the BBC series below:
Page’s past work includes the History channel’s reimagination of Roots in 2016. He won widespread praise for his portrayal of Chicken George, a role originally played by Ben Vereen in the 1970s miniseries. "It was a huge responsibility and a massive honor," Page told Harper's Bazaar in 2016, when the film was released. "It's a role that I was not originating, it's a role that's already present in millions of people's hearts. It's owned by my audience before I even get to touch it, which is daunting but also hugely exciting. Once you have that weight of responsibility, it means you are being held to the highest standards, which inspires you to do your best work. There is no other option." Check out an interview with Page, other members of the cast, and creative teams below:
SYLVIE’S LOVE AND MORE
Continuing to build on his momentum, he appeared in Amazon’s successful hit, Sylvie’s Love on Amazon and is set to star in Paramount’s untitled Dungeons & Dragons adaptation. Famously known for its war games, treasure hunts, reversals of fortune, and more, the Dungeons & Dragons game includes humans, elves, orcs, and other creatures in its mystical land. It is not clear if the movie adaptation will be a fantasy film or incorporate pieces of the game.
Shonda Rhimes has become one of the most well-known TV producers and writers in the industry and working with her has become a goal for many actors. Regé-Jean is proud to say that he’s worked with her not once, but twice. Besides Bridgerton, he was a cast member in 2018 on the short lived Shondaland series, For the People, where he portrayed Leonard Knox, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York,during both seasons of the short lived legal drama.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
In February 2021, he made his hosting debut to rave reviews on the popular sketch comedy show along with musical guest Bad Bunny. “You probably recognize me from Bridgerton, the show that made everyone turn to their moms and say, 'You know what? Nevermind I don't think we should watch this together.' It's a bit of a racy show. And because of that, people may associate me being this smoldering, sexual smoke show. But I assure you, I'm just a regular guy," Page joked in his opening monologue.
He's worth a follow on Instagram, where he gives us life as he shares images of his pandemic life and behind-the-scenes pictures of his films. Head to @regejean for all the content and occasional thirst traps!
He has been tapped for the latest Netflix espionage thriller. The Gray Man follows freelance assassin and former CIA operative Court Gentry (Ryan Gosling) as he battles with Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans), a former cohort at the CIA. The film is based on the first installment of the literary series, and is shooting for the class of the Bond franchise with a budget of more than $200 million, according to Essence.
Watch the 52nd Annual NAACP awards on BET on Saturday, March 27, 2021 at 8/7C