Fans of the 1996 supernatural teen-thriller The Craft will remember Rachel True as Rochelle Zimmerman, an aspiring witch who forms a coven with Sarah Bailey, Nancy Downs, and Bonnie Harper. In an interview with Yahoo!, True revealed that her path to starring in the movie was filled with the kind of discriminatory behavior that would be considered unacceptable today.
The cast of the movie was already stacked with famous actresses Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Robin Tunney. The part of Rochelle was originally written for a white actress, and Rachel True had to rely on round-about ways just to give an audition for the part. "It's a big movie in terms of my career, but it's also a big movie for Black people out there," True explained. "It's one of the first teen movies that wasn't a Black teen movie or a white teen movie.
After True finally boarded the movie as Rochelle, she was made to feel singled out by the people behind the camera, who reminded her of the difference in status between True and her more famous co-stars.
"When we were shooting the movie, I had literally been told by my team to stay away from Fairuza. [They said] she can get away with stuff, and you will get fired for it. I was literally told, 'You're Black, so don't say, 'F**k you, mommy,' like the white girls.'"
While True does not accuse her fellow actors of racist behavior, it soon became clear to her that her character was not being given the kind of importance that the other cast members received, both in terms of the storyline, and how the studio choose to promote the film.
"[The publicity team] put up a poster of the four of us, mentioned the three girls and then skipped down the call sheet, I think, 'This is how Black actors get underpaid, this is how they get forgotten, and it's part of why I mouthed off about the publicity back in the day that I was excluded from. At the time, I don't think my castmates understood; they were like, 'You're not as famous as us.' What they didn't get is that in the early to mid-1990s, [the studios] excluded the Black person, which meant they were never going to be as famous as you because they didn't get the press."
Despite the obstacles, True's portrayal of Rochelle became an enduring part of the legacy for The Craft. While other members of the coven faced their own problems that they sought to solve with black magic, the character arc for Rochelle was dealing with how her racial identity became a source of contention at school and made her the target for bullies. For True, despite her misgivings at the time regarding Rochelle's arc, time has made her appreciate what the movie got right about her character's journey.
"I remember thinking, 'Do they see Blackness as a problem?' All the characters have issues, and to me being Black wasn't an issue; the way other people treat me for being Black is the issue. But once I really thought about when I got older, I realized it's a good thing they have that in there. We'd come out of a time where we had things like The Cosby Show where nobody ever mentioned racism, and here was a movie that tackled it head on. I do think it's interesting, though, that the other three characters never say anything about it! Not one of them is ever like, 'That's too bad that she's racist towards you.' I don't think they would do that today."
This news was first reported by Yahoo.