Almost a year ago, Renee Rapp said, she was heartbroken — and “in a really sad way.” But instead of giving in to despair, the “Sex Lives of College Girls” star immediately called her manager.
“I explained it to him, ‘I feel like this is going to be the year I have my fingers crossed that everything I want to happen is going to happen,'” Rapp said. Difference Over Lattice in a cozy Toluca Lake coffee shop. “Getting out of that relationship gave me confidence.”
At first glance, it’s hard to imagine the 22-year-old singer and actor posing any threat. She’s no less candid than the very beginning, discussing everything from her relationship life (“I’ve had a lot of minor failed relationships this year”) to the complexities of her zodiac sign (Capricorn Sun, Gemini Rising, Pisces Moon). Getting to know an old friend. Dressed casually, her hair covered in a hat, “Queen Bee” (relating to both her attitude and, as later revealed, her love for Beyoncé) and a Cure t-shirt, admitting she had never heard the band’s music despite being the first. “Honestly, this is one of those times where someone on the street says, ‘You’ve never heard of that band,’ and it’s like, ‘I’m not crazy.’ ” she says.
Not to mention her rap history: She landed the role of Regina George on Broadway’s “Mean Girls” at the tender age of 19, and has since made waves as the clingy yet likable Leighton in Mindy Kaling’s HBO Max comedy “Sex Life.” It will return for Season 2 on November 17. But the rapper struggled to accomplish the one thing she’s always wanted to do: release original music.
The North Carolina-born rapper began writing and participating in musical theater from an early age, learning to sing by playing Beyoncé’s early records over and over during voice lessons. As Rap grew older, she quickly realized college wasn’t for her. Fortunately, she had an acquaintance from the local Charlotte theater community in Eva Noblezada (now a two-time Tony nominee for “Miss Saigon” and “Hadiestown”) as a model. Noblezada attended Northwestern School of the Arts and was a finalist in the National High School Musical Theater Awards. , which landed her the role of Kim in “Miss Saigon” in the West End. Rapp thought she could do the same – and she was right.
“[I thought], I can make music on the side, like, I can just run. And now I continue acting, because it will continue to support the music… Acting was a way to trick everyone into paying attention, so that I could have this interview with you,” she said.
“This is 100% my ‘Master Men’ moment,” she added, referencing the Taylor Swift song.
But finding success in the music business did not come easily. “From the time I was 16 to 20, I was told by different men and even different women that I don’t understand, that I should wear certain things, that my body should look a certain way,” says the player.
It wasn’t until she broke Leighton’s mainstream debut in “Sex Life” in November of last year that she finally found industry support, signing with Interscope Records, and she feels truly honored.
“Literally my first meeting [with Interscope]I was like, ‘I love these people,'” says the rapper. “Right away, I was like, ‘Holy shit, you really want to hear me.’ I was also killing it. I ate it according to the plan.
All of this has been leading up to the release of her debut EP, “Everything to Everyone” on Friday via Interscope Records. The seven-track project is an intimate, mystical look into the psyche of rap, filled with a pop edge, produced by some of the most ambitious talents, including Blake Slatkin, Omar Fadi and Circut – showcasing rap’s powerful, unwavering vocals. .
Take the album’s third track, “Colorado,” for example. Although it’s a well-timed and relatable first line (“I think my life could be better if I lived in Colorado”), the story behind the music goes much deeper. Growing up, Rap said her family would take annual ski vacations to the state, but so did her first love with music — Frank Ocean’s “Nostalgia, Ultra” remix.
“I almost cried when I was skiing down the mountain by myself listening to ‘There Will Be Tears.’ This 12-year-old little blonde girl is going down the mountain crying,” the rapper recalled. “I was like, ‘This is my only moment of peace.’ And it was a musical moment for me, because I was like, ‘This is something I feel really lonely about.’
But the track on the EP is the most rapturous “What Can I Do,” the first song she’s written about a woman — a straight-laced friend she grew up with who she “surprisingly loved.”
“This is the first gay song I’ve ever written, which is funny because I’ve been out for eight years,” says the queer rapper. “I love being able to find my gayness and my queerness in such a beautiful song.” “It’s something that a lot of people scoffed at and thought was this kitschy, hypersexual thing,” he says, who grew up in North Carolina. And to me, it’s really a very pure, loving, angelic thing.”
The rapper continued, “It’s like this middle ground of being in love with a straight woman when you’re not sure if she’s straight. And then, to be honest, ‘Why am I doing this?’ I was haunted by an inner homosexuality that said, ‘This is very strange to me.’ And then I was like no wait, I love this person in a different way and I don’t know if they love me in the same way and it’s really annoying. I would really do anything for you, and your boyfriend is not good for you. We both know this. You don’t like this guy! And they’re not together anymore, so goodbye.”
Although Rapp has been open about her sexuality for some time, playing Clop Leighton on “Sex Life” — which she only revealed to Kimberly (Paul Chalamet) at the end of Season 1 — changed her perspective on her own journey.
“I never Really It came out, and for a long time I always talked about being in such a loving and accepting environment. And I know now that that was so incredibly opposite of what happened, and I was so scared to be honest about it because I made fun of it so much,” she says. “So after the show came out, I felt like I was out again in a free way.”
Filming Season 2 of “Sex Life” was a liberating experience for Rapp, who thought there was “no way” she would be asked back after the first season.
“Part 1 is when I’m having anxiety attacks every day because I’m a terrible actor,” Rapp says. “It was all self-motivated, but this time I felt like I had to show up and try to do my thing, as opposed to trying to please these overly nice people. I feel like I have to be true to who I am. “
Although Rapp couldn’t tease much about Leighton’s storyline in the upcoming season, she did promise that her character will remain as “sarcastic and sly” as ever — two traits she says she shares with Leighton. But most of all, the rapper wants people to know — whether they’re listening to her new EP, watching Season 2 of “Sex Life,” or both — that she’s figuring things out.
I hope people understand that I’m a work in progress and what people don’t know is how confident I’ve felt to release any music this year — and the wilderness of my 22 years at it,” she says. What I want to do with my life is what Frank Ocean did for me when I was a kid… because I love music on a level of communication, and that’s why I’m obsessed with talking to a single person who’s willing to listen to me. I am a fan of my fans. I said, ‘You don’t understand. ‘Yay, I’m a consumer! I do this to make friends. You are my friend. Please, Jesus Christ, I need to be less lonely. That’s why I do this!”