After speaking with Rachel Grate, I realized how very different she is from Audra, the character she portrayed on Crazy Ex Girlfriend. Whereas Audra is serious and uptight, Rachel is funny and personable but with an obvious love and commitment to her craft. We talked about her road to acting, roles she were proud of and of course, Audra. Read below for more on Rachel.
What set you on the path of becoming an actress?
“It was one of those things where I was really young and I was always in ballet classes and community theater. And one day I turned to my mom and said ‘Hey mom, I want to be one of those kids inside the tv and she kind of looked at me and went ‘Really?’ And she was like ‘Maybe when you get a little bit older.’ But I kept bugging her and bugging her and finally she was like ‘Okay, fine.’ So she took my picture like with a little camera and sent it to agents. And I got an agent pretty much right away. My mom was an actress when she was in Brazil. She was a theater and television actress, so I think I kind of just got the genes.”
What has been your favorite role in your career so far?
“I have a few, I’ve been lucky to play some really great parts. I was in a play in 2014 that was nominated for an Ovation Award, the LA Ovation Awards for Best Actress in a feature role. I used to be part of a theater company. My character’s name was Kay and she was a really nice girl dealing with drug addiction and really, really intense feelings of self hatred and self doubt. But she was the kind of girl that despite all that can make a joke and laugh about it. I just really respected how the writer wrote that character. She wasn’t the kind of girl who was just sad and angry. She was trying to make the best out of it and I loved that character.
Obviously Audra because I get to rap and have a character who’s feeling that duality with dealing with intense emotions but trying to cover it to make sure that the world knows that she’s fine. But on the inside, she’s not fine.”
How much laughter went into filming the JAP Battle rap?
“How much laughter? (laughs) It was so much fun, we had such a blast. That was actually at the end of a very long day, we set up finally around 11PM. I think we were all really just relieved to be on the last set up. We just had so much fun. Every single take, everybody just went all out. We did a few takes. There were three set ups and two or three takes in each direction. We were filming without sound because the way the sound works is we record the actual vocals beforehand to make sure everything syncs up, sort of like lip sync.
Everyone had no shyness, we were all just cracking up (laughs). There was just so much laughter. And then my scary little lawyer crew was just intense also with all the scowls (laughs).”
Tell us about Crazy Ex Girlfriend’s Audra, what do you think about this character? If she were a real person, what do you think you’d feel about her?
“Audra is very status oriented and she’s very competitive. And it comes out very negatively. She’s not the kind of person who’d be like ‘Oh you got a better grade than me, good job you probably studied harder.’ She’s the kind of girl who’s like ‘You got a better grade than me, you must have to cheated’. So I think meeting Audra, I don’t think I would like her (laughs). She doesn’t seem like the most supportive or nice person, I like supportive people. That being said, if I were in trouble and I needed a lawyer, I would hire Audra in a heartbeat (laughs).”
Did you do research on attorneys to get a feel how they practice and present themselves or was that basically from the script?
“The script gave me pretty much all the information I needed. Audra is a very particular type of lawyer haha. I’ve been called to jury duty like nine times, and I have friends who are lawyers now, so I’ve seen the gravitas of the courtroom and I know how serious lawyers are. And when playing Audra, I tried to access that point of view.”
And you did. Even the walk, when Audra first came in even before she said anything you knew she meant business.
“Yea, I’m going to destroy you (laughs).
You’ve done theater, film and television do you have a medium you prefer?
“You know, I really don’t. I like that I’m able to do all three. I think if I did any one too much it might gets exhausting. I love the audience of theater, I love that you can feel their energy. I love television because you get to know everybody, you’re there a whole week to film your scenes. You get to do it over and over so everyone’s so supportive and encouraging like ‘Yay, you nailed it on the first take!’ And I like film because you kind of get swept off into this different world for a few months. So, I love all three of them.
I do love that Crazy Ex Girlfriend has a lot of theater people doing television, so a lot of that spontaneity and energy is very present when filming. We filmed from beginning to end and you really got to feel that energy, like really get into the scene and communicate with each other. So to answer your question, I love all of it and I’m lucky to be able to do all of it (laughs).”
In reading your IMBD page it indicates you are the President of Grate Artists Inc., can you tell us about that?
“It’s my mom, my sister and I. My mom used to do extra work so we basically just formed a corporation. From there, we produced some short films. With some of our funds, we donated to a charity called Cooking with Gabby, which is a charity in Los Angeles and it helps kids learn how to cook and eat right to know what’s in their food, instead of just grabbing a bag of chips.
Grate Artists Inc is another way I can use my artistic voice to help.
Can you share with our readers anything about your upcoming projects?
“One film that’s in distribution called Camilla Dickinson and then Norm of the North which is a cartoon that I had a small voice in is running in theaters. It’s about climate change and it stars Rob Schneider so that’s a good one to check out. Hopefully, I will have more news soon. There are some things in the works. Tune into Crazy Ex Girlfriend that’s one way to help it come back. I was a huge fan of the show even before I had my audition to play Audra. It’s definitely a show that deserves more than one season.”
Update: The CW announced on March 11 that Crazy Ex Girlfriend was renewed for Season 2. Here’s hoping we’ll get to see more of Rachel Grate as Audra Levine!