Sat in the corner of my West London couch, I received one of those ‘is this really happening?’ emails. From my editor at One Night it read, “pick one of your London idols, and let’s have you interview them in a hotel bed.” To launch the app’s new series Pillow Talk, I had my pick in whoever I wanted to get into bed with at the stylish Town Hall Hotel. The East End’s vibrant and award-winning hotel pleasures the senses from its cutting-edge design to its fabulous indoor swimming pool. So, who would be joining me in one of their king-sized beds, you wonder? Grace Campbell, feminist behind the Pink Protest, filmmaker, comedian, and North London native.
Fresh off performing a preview for her Edinburgh Comedy Festival show, Why I’m Never Going Into Politics, to a packed audience, Campbell is on a high. As we lay our heads on Town Hall’s fluffy down pillows, we discussed the upsides of working with friends and family, staying sane whilst traveling, and why, in fact, she is never going to work in politics. Amidst her busy schedule performing all over the UK doing stand-up, traveling with her loved ones or on location for a video shoot, we were lucky to get her into bed with us for some much-needed Pillow Talk.
To say the least, Campbell has her fingers in several pies. She works hard to devote time and effort to each pursuit—whether it be comedy, the Pink Protest which she oversees with three friends, or her directing and production work. “I have a filmmaking degree, and I thought I would only be making films, but now I am a comedian. You can do bare things nowadays. I used to get stressed-out thinking ‘what do I introduce myself as?’ And sometimes I stress because when I say I am a comedian or an activist, the word ‘activist’ subtracts any form of comedy,” she says as she pushes back a cluster of thick blonde ringlets.
The 25-year-old studied film at The London College of Communication (Stanley Kubrick’s Alma Mater) and has since worked on an array of projects. Her impressive resume includes her own comedy shorts, a BBC3 documentary about her father’s struggle with depression [Her father, as in Alastair Campbell, former advisor to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair], and more. Currently, Campbell and her father are creating a podcast together entitled Football, Feminism, and Everything In Between.
“How did the collaboration come about?” I asked as I gazed into her eyes.
“My father is obsessed with football, and I’m obsessed with feminism. We’ve got some amazing guests coming on because of him,” she explains thoughtfully while acknowledging her privilege and connections, something that one probably wouldn’t think of right away, given her mellow demeanor. Which brings us to her next project: her imminent Edinburgh one-woman comedy show, Why I’m Never Going Into Politics.
“I came up with the title last summer, I only started doing standup a year ago. After having performed for a few months, I never really mentioned who my dad was. When I was on holiday I was thinking about my personal relationship with politics: I grew up in it and now as an activist, I do a lot of stuff that is political. At the same time, I have a huge resentment towards the mainstream political system. It’s so outdated. I touch on a lot of things in the show that proves it’s too late for me to get into it. I talk about mental illness, but I also talk about wanking. Anyway, we need to make more of an effort to get young people and diverse voices into politics,” she says matter-of-factly with a wide grin.
How does Grace handle all of the travel and keep herself sane? “Well, I’m bringing my friend Scarlett [Curtis] with me to the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, and we are renting a flat together. I’ve got evenings there to unwind, so I won’t be drinking. I unwind with yoga and meditation every day to help me calm down. Edinburgh is also amazing, I have family there and I love how small the city is, you can walk everywhere,” she explains as she sips on her black coffee and adjusts her stylish tinted shades.
Grace continues, “Creating this show was a no-brainer for me. I think it’s a really good way to advertise what I am trying to do. I am quite open about the mad things I’ve done in my life. I like to talk about wanking, sex stories, and then about the more serious things. I want people to be like, wow, she is really silly but she’s actually clever and thought about why she is making this show. I even created feedback forms so I can talk more about my mother, who often is not as mentioned as my father.” [Her mother is education activist Fiona Millar, an inspiring journalist, and a powerhouse in her own right].
As if all of that wasn’t enough, for Grace’s Pink Protest project, she works alongside three talented, politically-involved friends who each have their own set of jobs and side hustles. Working with friends is a difficult feat for most, but the Pink Protest makes it work, “when you work with people intensely, it’s so much nicer if you already get along with them. We all support each other and are all doing very different things, mostly because we all got a different thing that we do outside of the Pink Protest.”
After sitting in bed with Grace for a little over an hour and a coffee, I truly feel like I want her to be my perennial plus one at all dinner parties. As I remind myself to put her next stand-up show in my iCal, I think of how refreshing it is to finally hang out with someone who is cool, informed and has mastered the art of making feminism look stylish and approachable. Plus, how many other people can say they got to get into bed with one of their idols?