An upcoming actress with plenty of work in various other aspects of the industry, Rachelle Henry is making her mark on the scene working both in front of and behind the camera with a growing list of accolades to further her career in fine fashion. Now, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I talk with her about her early interest in the industry, working on several past films and some upcoming projects.
Me: Hello and thank you for taking the time to do this. First off, when did you get into horror in general?
Rachelle Henry: Hello! Thank you so much for having me!
I love a wide variety of genres and I love acting in many types of films: drama, comedy, horror, fantasy, thriller, etc. I think it progressed naturally to start working in horror films because I grew up in Seattle where a lot of the films made are horror.
I think one of the first horror films was a short film in 2014 called THE CRATE. I don't remember the whole story, but I remember I was a psycho cheerleader who lured a guy into my basement and tortured him. I'm sure he had it coming.
Me: Were you into genre films growing up? What films specifically got you into watching horror movies?
RH: I always have loved genres like fantasy, horror, sci-fi, crime/thriller. One of my favorite films is Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and I think it definitely drew me more into horror. Anthony Perkins was one of my inspirations for my role as Lisa in Caprice. I also love the Halloween films with Jamie Lee Curtis, Friday the 13th and I loved the film Get Out, etc.
Me: When did you initially discover a passion for acting? What aspect of this industry appeals to you?
RH: I always have been a performer and a storyteller. Filmmaking is a collaborative art form. I love the community. I love getting to tell stories with creative talent and amazing people!
Me: Is there any specific type of character you prefer playing? What do you look for in a character to be excited and interested in playing it?
RH: I prefer playing the protagonist, but I've been cast as the villain as well. Both are fun and can be challenging.
I love strong female characters. I love when they have flaws, when they stand up for themselves, when they are intelligent and ambitious. I love the obvious type that is able to defend themselves in a fight but I also love the characters that the audience doesn’t automatically assume are strong. The kind where their strength comes from their vulnerability and courage. There’s a wide range of how strong female characters are portrayed, and I love getting to play that variety. In terms of which do I prefer playing, it honestly depends on the script/story.
Me: What do you do to stay in character while on-set? When you're not filming, how do you pass the time between takes?
RH: I find it that it is best for continuity to stay in character between takes. Sometimes this means staying pretty much to myself and sometimes it means interacting with others or running lines. It just depends on the character and the story.
Me: Having worked on plenty of short films early in your career, what tools and skills do you acquire working on those that transferred to future film projects?
RH: Shorts are just slices of life that could be part of a larger story. One of my favorite films to have ever worked on was a short called LOSING IT. That film is a very David Lynchian style thriller that premiered at Slamdance 2017, was an Official Selection of the Cannes Short Film Corner and some other great festivals. That film is a great example of a story that could be part of a larger story. In fact, I’m still hoping one day it’ll be developed into a feature! On shorts, you get to learn how to tell a complete story with 3 acts, an arc and a climax all in the matter of a few minutes. The skills are the same as that on a feature film, only condensed. Well-made shorts can be incredible pieces of cinema.
Me: After working on several previous films, your first genre experience was in the series 'Transmissions.' How did you get involved with the series?
RH: I actually had a few genre projects before that, though some aren’t listed on IMDb. I knew a few people attached to the project and I remember the director pitching the character of Lissa Golaski to me. I loved her immediately. The series Soma: Transmissions is a prequel YouTube series to the sci-fi/horror videogame SOMA. It was exciting getting to do wirework, stunts, I got to wear crazy prosthetics and we shot in an abandoned nuclear plant from the 80s that never launched. SATSOP Nuclear Plant was an interesting location and really brought the aesthetic of the project to life.
Me: What was the set like while shooting the film? How did the cast and crew react to the type of film being made?
RH: I think everyone was pretty excited about shooting a horror/sci-fi project! Because it was based on a video game, we were able to play a little bit of the game before SOMA was released. The production had to match the style of the game to make our production design/wardrobe look cohesive. The show has been positively received on YouTube, has a bit of a cult following and we even had people cosplay our characters at conventions.
Me: Do you recall having any odd or funny on-set stories about yourself or any of the other cast/crew members?
RH: Our stunt coordinator Aaron Crippen helped me get prepared for being up 40ft in the air on wires inside one of the buildings at the plant. He had rehearsals to prepare me for wearing the harness and could experience being pulled back and prepare for a high-speed drop (think Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible) while on wires. He made it a wonderful experience and my costars and I shared a lot of laughs over the wirework stunts!
Me: You were also involved in 'Tall Men' as Alicia Mariotti. What about the character appealed to you?
RH: Alicia was an interesting character to play. I knew that the character had to do an underwater stunt and that was definitely a challenge. It was difficult to lay on my back, keep your eyes open while holding your breath. They cannot film until the air bubbles end, so it felt like I was drowning for each take. I had to attempt to gauge it correctly before coming up for air so that I didn’t inhale water on the way and choke for a while. It’s actually something I rehearsed at home in the bathtub to work on timing. The director recommended I watch Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. That became an inspiration for that scene, giving Alicia an angry, revenge-based motive for that moment rather than as a victim. It made that stunt a lot easier to achieve. Alicia has a tragic backstory, and her life makes a huge impact on the lead character, Terrance. The film is eerie, creepy and unsettling. Fun fact: I make a cameo appearance in another scene and most people have no idea it’s me. Hint: movie theater scene haha
Me: From there, you played the ghostly Annie in 'I Don't Believe in Ghosts.' Was this type of character challenging for you to play in this kind of film?
RH: I DON’T BELIEVE IN GHOSTS shot in 2014 and was another early genre film. It was a blast! I loved getting to embody Annie, a young girl who was murdered in a house in the 1950s and whose ghost has haunted it all these years. Annie appears regularly to a young couple that have moved in and they uncover the mystery of what happened to Annie. Annie has a mournful quality and wants to be set free.
Me: As well, you have worked on various aspects of film production. Do you have any particular preference for working on any?
RH: When I'm not working as an actor, I prefer to be involved in the creative part of the process whether in the Director's chair or producing which involves all aspects of the creative process and the end-to-end production.
Acting will always be my first love but I love working and learning so many aspects of filmmaking: directing, writing, producing, editing, SFX makeup, cinematography etc. They all come together to create movie magic and I believe that understanding more than one job in the film industry makes you a better filmmaker.
Me: You wrote and directed several efforts, such as 'Almost Boyfriends,' 'Missing' and 'Enigmatic,' among others. What drew you to try out directing these projects?
RH: For me, directing and producing came early in my career. My first time directing was amazing. I got a grant from Adobe to create a project with a social message. I ended up collaborating with PAWS and Emerald City Pet Rescue. As it turned out, I was able to have 3 Red Cameras, drones, and a lot of great talent in both the acting and the post-production work. We filmed on location and in a studio.
I loved that MISSING has a social message and I’m drawn to stories that show strong female characters. It depends on the elements of the story.
Me: Given that you were the writer, director and star of several of these shorts, did it challenge you to be involved in various capacities at once on a project like this? How do you balance those priorities during a shoot?
RH: It is definitely challenging to keep the balance between the priorities of production and acting, but I found that it’s helpful to take time in the pre-production stage to plan and develop each aspect and then surround yourself with great people who are all of the same mindset, it can be really rewarding. I am grateful that when I’m on set, my co-producers can cover the production side and I’m grateful when I have a great AD to keep things rolling.
Me: Beyond these factors, what do you do to keep your creative energy flowing?
RH: Again, I think you just really need to make this a part of your regular life. There is a phrase that I have adopted that says, "Don't Wait. Create." The idea is that things don't always just happen. You have to put in the work and part of that work is to stay creative in everything you do. Try new things. Find ways to see things from different points of view.
Me: What else are you working on that you'd like to share with our readers?
RH: During lockdown, I teamed with two of my colleagues, Rico E. Anderson and Sasha Kerbel, to start a weekly talk show web series called THE LIGHTNING HOUR, which is produced through my production company, RPMMarTan Productions. The show involves weekly in-depth interviews with entertainment personalities who discuss their careers, their artistic journey and their efforts to give back to the community.
The Lightning Hour just finished its second season with director Sue Corcoran, Mr. Elliott Gould and David DeLuise, Elijah Nelson and Cynthia Geary, as well as several other lead characters for an almost 10-year reunion of filming “All I Want Is Christmas.” THE LIGHTNING HOUR has had some amazing guests including Lin Shaye (Insidious franchise), Dot-Marie Jones (GLEE), Lilimar (Bella and the Bulldogs), Sheldon Reynolds (former lead guitarist and vocalist with Earth Wind & Fire), T.J. Storm (Godzilla), and many others.
Me: Lastly, being that this is Women in Horror Month, what special message do you have for any women out there looking to join in the industry in any capacity as you are one yourself? Thank you again for your time!
RH: There are many aspects of the entertainment industry and we have to step out of our comfort zone and find the niche that our skills and talent can be developed and manifested in artistic expression. Consider finding out what might be available in your local area that can offer support and opportunities.