By K Busch
Heart of Hollywood Magazine’s exclusive look into some of the “Top 30 Lesser Known Actors” according to an article published in IMDb, we reached out to Rachel Noll James who made the list according to an article on IMDb, she is a director, producer and most applaudable an award-winning screenwriter. Some of her best-known roles include ‘Don’t Pass Me By’ ‘Malibu Road’ and ‘The Storyteller’. She was named Best Feature Writer in 2014 at LA Femme Festival and was recognized in 2015 in the Page Screenwriting Awards as she was awarded the Silver Prize. She has also been noted and recognized for her work in short films including ‘Follow The River’ and ‘Half Light’.
After speaking with some of her fans and compiling some questions for Ms. James, we placed the questions and her responses for you below:
What’s the most favorite thing you have had to do or experience so far in your career?
That’s a hard question! I’ve had so many different experiences that were impactful for many different reasons. I love the people I’ve met and the roles I’ve gotten to play and write as well as the incredible learnings that happen on each set. I’m a better person for each project I’ve been a part of.
What made you decide to become an actress?
I always wanted to act. Since I was little. There just has never been anything in my life that lights me up quite the way acting does. And that has never gone away.
At what age did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in acting?
When did you become a screenwriter and why?
I always loved to write, but I never really considered it as a career move until I had spent about 4 years in LA as a working actor and I started itching to create my own work. I adapted a book into a screenplay for practice and fell in love with the format and the process. I then worked for a number of years as a freelance screenwriter getting odd jobs and rewrite jobs here and there, while also writing and producing my own work.
Do you have a favorite Actor/Actress?
It changes all the time! I love Kate Winslet and always will. Emma Thompson. Emily Blunt.
Do you have a favorite movie?
To quote Ever After “I could no sooner choose a favorite star in the heavens”
When did you decide to become a Director and why?
Directing was a natural progression for me. After writing and producing films, I realized that my heart and passion really lay in the creative. Working with actors, selecting music, setting up the shot, creating the world… sitting with all the department heads to make it come to life. So I’ve moved more and more in that direction and will be directing my first feature this fall!
What was your favorite role that you have played?
Rose in Paramnesia. Hannah Walters in Don’t Pass Me By. Cathy in the Last Five Years.
Do you have a favorite hobby?
Most recently I’ve gotten into mixology and cocktail making!
Have you ever had a celebrity crush? If so who?
Oh of course. I’ve had many. Beginning with JTT in the 7th grade. Diego Luna. Jake Gyllanhaal. Joe Anderson.
Would you ever consider dating a fan?
I am now happily married. So nope!
What are your current goals or ambitions if you have any?
To get this feature film off the ground in the fall of this year and have a successful run with it. And then it would really be to continue making films with great people in beautiful locations. To keep telling my stories and carve out a niche for myself that is unique to me.
How did you feel winning the Silver Prize at the Page Screenwriting awards in 2015?
It’s always a great feeling to be recognized in a contest with so many applications. And I always take wins (and losses) with a grain of salt because it’s all so subjective. I try to keep my focus on my own pleasure and satisfaction in the process and let any awards or accolades be a bonus. That way I don’t get caught up in feedback either negative or positive. Other people’s feedback can be very distracting. And confusing.
What’s something that would be important for other aspiring actors/actresses to know?
There is no one like you. And that’s the best news there is. Learn to love yourself first and show up fully as yourself — shut out the noise and comparison to other people — that’s half the battle. From there it’s all timing and subjectivity and trust. Find the joy in each part of the process.
Do you have a favorite celebrity? If so who?
I don’t think I could pick one! Its very project and moment dependent for me.
What’s something that you have hardly ever told anyone about yourself?
I used to swing dance professionally.
What’s your biggest strength?
No matter what I come up against in my life, I always look for the lesson and the growth opportunity and use it as a chance to become even more comfortable in my own skin.
What’s your biggest weakness?
I have a tendency toward over responsibility and trying to control things I can’t. I’m working on it!
Do you have a favorite band or musician?
It depends on my mood. I love so many different artists and songs for different reasons. Music to dance to, music to cry to, music to write to…
Do you have a favorite sport or sports team?
Not a big sports person.
What advice do you have for other or aspiring screenwriters?
Someone once said to me that everyone has an innate sense of story. We all sort of instinctively know how a story should unfold. We have read and watched so many. So trust your instincts. And let yourself write a crappy first draft without editing yourself. Just write and write and know that you can edit later. Give yourself the freedom to experiment and not judge your work too early.
Describe the perfect day, how would the weather be and what would you be doing?
Foggy fall day. Cup of tea. A blanket. My cat. My husband. Having a conversation about life and all its many nuances. :)
Do you have any travel destinations that you would like to travel to, but haven’t yet?
Tons. Ireland. Italy. Cuba…. The list goes on.
What’s your most favorite place you have ever been?
Would it be cheesy to say the place I live? I feel lucky to have landed here.
What’s your favorite food to eat or drink?
New Mexican Green Chile Enchiladas with a sopapilla on the side.
Do you have a favorite animal? What is it?
What’s your favorite season? Why?
Fall. Maybe it’s because my birthday is in the fall. But I’ve always loved the changing of the seasons. The leaves turning. The crisp air.
Have you ever binge-watched a series? If so what?
Constantly. Many. Most recently Mare of Eastown
If there was one piece of advice you could give to others, what would it be and why?
Be patient with yourself. You’ve got time. Take that time to find out what you really care about - separate from what anyone else says or thinks - and learn to lean into that above all else. And don’t worry so much about the future outcomes. Just enjoy the process.
Do you have a favorite quote?
”Today I saw myself for the first time
when I dusted off the mirror of my mind
and the woman looking back took my breath away who was this giant, beautiful, beastling. This extra-celestial earthling
I touched my face and my reflection
touched the woman of my dreams
all her gorgeous smirking back at me
my knees surrendered themselves to the earth as I wept and sighed at how I'd gone
my whole life being myself but
not seeing myself spent decades living inside my body never left it once yet
managed to miss all its miracles
isn't it funny how you can occupy a space without ever being in touch with it how it took so long to open the eyes of my eyes
embrace the heart of my heart kiss the soles of my swollen feet and hear them whisper
What’s your favorite flower?
Purple Iris. Or Lavender.
Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans or aspiring actors/actresses today?
Thanks for including me in this! There is no one way to do this. So do it your way. Have the courage to show up boldly as yourself… and it will all unfold as it should.
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You can check out some of her incredible contributions here:
Image Credit: Rachel Noll James
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