Every generation gets to watch a star be born. The 90’s set the stage for Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson to blossom in the teen drama KIDS. The early aughts birthed faces built for the movie screen like Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson. Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, and Amy Adams all came into their own in the 2010s. In 2022 the world will witness 22-year-old Rain Spencer’s birth into stardom in 4k. This year Rain Spencer, a Los Angeles-based Pisces (Aquarius if you believe in cusps), is about to show the fuck out. She has an electrifying supporting role as Taylor, the sassy, not-so-loyal but a well-meaning friend in the series adaptation of Jenny Han’s YA novel, The Summer I Turned Pretty. She’ll also star in a badass leading role that oozes the pure vulnerability that every actor dreams of portraying in the addiction drama Good Girl Jane. Here, Rain talks to us about her first acting roles, songs on her summertime playlist, dealing with internet trolls, Jessica Lange’s eyes, and more.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I’ve always sort of known. I started in theater when I was 5. The desire to act was intuitive for me and it allowed me to express myself freely without feeling judged- especially as a teenager. I enjoy acting more than anything else on this planet.
What was your first acting role?
My first real role was in 2010. I was the face of the United States for the US Pavilion at the World’s Fair in China. I filmed in Los Angeles and then was flown out for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. I signed autographs, met with Hilary Clinton, and had bodyguards- it was a whole thing.
When we first meet Taylor she is Belly’s super confident confidant. She’s giving Belly advice on Facetime and sneaking gifts into her bag like a modern day genie. How would your friends describe you?
I think my closest friends would describe me as someone that is always aiming to morph into a higher version of themselves. I can’t stay stuck. I need constant change. They would tell you that I didn’t own any makeup until like a year ago.
As the summer goes on, Taylor develops a lot of resentment and jealousy. Being an actor in such a competitive field, how do you navigate jealousy?
I like to think that I am only in competition with myself. If someone else gets a role I went out for, I wish them an amazing experience and I move on. There’s no time or energy for jealousy in this field in my opinion because there are so many opportunities every day, and what’s meant for me won’t miss me. I just relax and do my part.
What did summers look like for you growing up?
I was very fortunate to have grandparents that loved exploring. My grandpa lived on a boat for 12 years and every summer I would fly to wherever he was and spend a month there with him. We spent a lot of time in Panama, Colombia, Honduras. We fed monkeys and deer. My grandma also took me on dreamy trips. We took trains through Europe, went skiing, and visited New York.
With Good Girl Jane and The Summer I Turned Pretty coming out back to back, your “star is born” moment is on the horizon, talk to us about managing your life when your dreams are starting to come true.
I’m so unbelievably excited for the world to see these projects. I’m really taking it all in one day at a time. I am reminding myself that every room I walk into, I am meant to be there. Some of my friends that are actors talk about impostor syndrome. I’ve been learning how to not be critical of myself as it’s very important for me to be authentic and grounded. So long as I show up as myself to the best of my ability, and I’m not trying to be anything or anyone else, I feel great.
Where are the best summer spots in LA right now?
My favorite place to be In LA during the summer is Malibu. It’s so secluded and otherworldly. [Growing up] my mom used to take me there to get away from the city.
There is no denying that your scenes in The Summer I Turned Pretty are magnifying. What are some of your favorite, most inspiring movie scenes? What actress do you look up to?
I am in love with every part of the 2006 movie Candy. Even the more light hearted scenes like when Abbie Cornish says “We’re the coolest people in McDonalds right now”, are so good to me. Heath Ledger is phenomenal in everything. I also look up to Jessica Lange, she has this unforgettable look in her eyes when she’s performing that just sticks with me.
What are some songs on your summertime playlist?
“Surface” Etta Bond, Slum Village, “Monolith” T Rex, “The Kings Affirmation” Iniko, “Broken Clocks” SZA, “Catamaran” Allah-Las, “When I See You” Fantasia, “Can I Get Your Name” Angela Munoz, “Long Time No See” Yeek, “This Morning” Terrace Martin and Smino, “Soulboy” P-rallel
Good Girl Jane is set in 2005, what do you think your Myspace screen name would have been if you were in high school back then?
Oh God, probably something awful. It doesn’t even exist and I’m still embarrassed to say.
The montages when the clique is wilding out in the parking lot or at a party seemed like fun. The rest of the time the scenes are a bit heavy and non-glamorous. Talk to us about shooting the film, what was the vibe like on set? How was it having to go to that space of loneliness and sadness that Jane lived everyday?
Good Girl Jane is inspired by Sarah Mintz’s true story, so it was important for me to feel Jane’s pain, her struggle and her loneliness in its entirety while filming. Before Jane meets her primary drug, Jamie, she feels completely isolated from the world. Good Girl Jane doesn’t apologize for Jane’s pain by adding a lot of external causes, it’s more about her internal experience that is suffocating and valid, and I think people will relate. It was
an intoxicating anxiety and hard existence before temporary relief. Sarah created this brilliant atmosphere on set that matched the mood of whatever scene we were doing at that moment so it was very intimate and intentionally curated.
What scene in Good Girl Jane do you think stands out as the most significant? I would say the diner scene when Jane tells her mom she is having a problem with drugs and she doesn’t do anything to help her. That to me really showed how alone she was in the world, and how it was possible for her to fall for Jamie, but I’m curious to hear your thoughts.
I love the diner scene a lot. I think having a mother that pushes your feelings and experience under the rug can create a very confused person that doesn’t know how to express or feel their emotions to the fullest extent. It’s a matter of not feeling seen or heard. One of my favorite scenes is outside of the courthouse when Jane finally
explodes on her mom. I think she’s screaming at the world and you see that she feels like she shouldn’t exist in the first place. That to me, is the core. That fear of abandonment because of her father’s absence- recreating itself through her relationship with Jamie. That’s what it looks like when someone doesn’t get the love they need as a child. How it feels when you’re not validated by your parents, when you’re pushed aside. Questions like “why am I here at all?” You can see why Jane might go down the wrong path. She’s really seeking love, not trouble.
Since Good Girl Jane is dealing with sensitive subject matter like teenage drug use, statutory rape, and online bullying, there will inevitably be some critics coming for the film. Can you talk to us about how you handle the ‘trolls?’ Do you read reviews and comments, or do you try to stay away from the internet?
I would love to say that I’m not going to read comments, but I won’t be able to help it. However, I will say that this film isn’t about me. I think Good Girl Jane is going to reach exactly who it’s supposed to. My hope is that the sensitive topics brought to light in this film will make some people feel seen. Its purpose was always to
help someone heal or discover a part of themselves previously overlooked. Maybe it’s even to help someone understand their son/daughter a bit better.
Corset, STAR CAT COUNTRY CLUB.
When I finished watching Good Girl Jane it made me think of people I went to high school with who may have been struggling in silence and I felt a bit guilty for it. Without naming any names, did reading the Good Girl Jane script and becoming Jane make you think of anyone in your life who may have been struggling in silence? How do you navigate reaching out to help someone who is showing signs of struggle but hasn’t yet asked for
I absolutely thought about people from high school after reading the Good Girl Jane script. [Jane’s] struggles are common and relatable, but introverts like Jane are rarely given the space to explain their side. I think making a movie like Good Girl Jane can contribute enormously and shed some light onto those quietly struggling. I know that’s Sarah’s hope, as is mine. I believe that all you can do sometimes is plant a seed of recovery- that it is possible to overcome not only addiction but loneliness and terminal uniqueness. There are programs that I have watched my friends heal in and they have big beautiful lives after overcoming addictions to heroin [and] meth. Good Girl Jane is also a cautionary tale for those tormented by their minds before they even touch drugs. This is what it can look like.
Drugs (including Jamie) seemed like a solution, but it’s only good before it gets really awful… and then what do you do when you’ve gone too far? Only the individual struggling can ask for help, we can’t read your mind but we can help when you’re willing and desperate to stop.
What’s next for you?
I’m shooting Season 2 of The Summer I Turned Pretty for 5 months this summer and I’m super excited to go back. Other than that, I’m open to the possibilities of what’s to come.
*Rain won Best Performance in U.S. Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival 2022, Film for Good Girl Jane
Dress, ALABAMA BLONDE.
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