Maxine Peake at the Women of the World festival
|Photo: Mark Waugh|
It was a total fluke but I managed to catch Maxine Peake in conversation with Jude Kelly at the Women of the World (WOW) Festival on Friday afternoon. Ever since the first series of Shameless, I’ve been a fan of the 39-year-old actress (Peake says that we can use the word ‘actress’ once more, it’s being reclaimed). The Silk star had come straight from the protest against the government’s Legal Aid cuts: an intelligent, funny northener who loves cycling, Margaret Howell and politics – what’s not to love? So, on Friday, with a friend who was carrying a copy
of the WOW programme, I realised that the British actress was about to go on stage, legged it over the road to the Royal Festival Hall and straight into the front row. It was meant to be.
|Photo: Contact Music|
Here are some excerpts from the WOW conversation:
On her inspiration:
‘We come from a different place politically but in my teens it was always Vanessa Redgrave. I was inspired by her path as an artist and as a political creature.’
‘I was in the Communist Party when I was younger but interviewers just say, “How interesting, now tell us about your weight loss.”‘
On female roles:
‘People say “You always play strong women,” but as far as I’m concerned women are strong. I just play women and women are strong and women are interesting. We need more female role models on screen – why are we not seeing this?’
On becoming a writer:
‘I started writing recently because I spent so much time in coffee shops with actress friends saying there are no parts and I just thought ” How long do we sit and moan about this?” How many women have said that coming up to 40 the work dries up? I want to be more creative, I want more control – I’ve fought for a lot of work, it wasn’t handed to me – and I don’t know where I can go next. There’s a real vibe at the moment, I just think women’s stories are more interesting – particularly older women’s
‘As women we do tend to doubt ourselves – it’s that sort of Greek chorus of voices you have, telling you you’re not good enough, not talented enough. I wouldn’t have done half the parts I’ve done but I got to the point where I stopped judging myself, thinking I can’t do things. I’m not saying “Yeah I’ve written a couple of plays and they’re brilliant,” but I do think just have a go, what’s the worst that can happen? You can fail. So what? Brush yourself down and get on with it.’
Afterwards the down-to-earth actress was mobbed by a huge crowd of grown-up girl fans (including me), all desperate to meet her. Mostly just to say hello, declare our love and grab a quick photo. Because as well as being talented and committed, Maxine Peake is friendly and approachable, too. And she wears nice cardis.
Thank you for all so much for the lovely comments on my last post. You’re very kind.
The top photo is by Manchester photographer Mark Waugh.