Rain Spencer very much doesn’t want to talk about the weather, but childhood trauma is for sure on the table. And if you’re talking with her, she might be molding your face into a claymation in her mind. You also could be talking with the 7-year-old version of her. Because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, actors are not promoting their projects, so we had the special opportunity to delve deeper into Rain’s internal world, a vivid prismatic dimension. She describes herself as an introvert, and like most introverts, she finds that she naturally retreats into a world only she can see. It is clear that she seeks deep connections with both herself and others, even with the belief that they’re something that can never be perfected. She pays close attention to her own personal evolution – in never staying in the same place (or realm). At the moment though, she is learning how to settle into the world around her in the in-between, or as she says, “figuring out how to live life.”
Rain says, “I’ll never be able to fully know myself or what I’m capable of. I can do a million things. If I put time into it, I can be a professional skydiver, for example. I would never know what that’s like because I didn’t choose to do that thing.” Shifting in and out of the present moment, she discusses different versions of herself – the child who walked with a basket of bananas under Panama’s sunrise next to her grandfather (‘Big Chuck’) to feed monkeys reaching down from trees, the one who needs to calm herself down by painting, the one who just wants to have fun and talk about aliens, and even the versions she hasn’t yet met. At times, it feels like her chat
In her Schön! interview, speaking with her feels like it sits in a realm of its own – where past, present, and alternate universes collide.
Hi Rain! Since it’s the end of summer now, I want to go back a bit in time. Do you remember your best summer or one that sticks out in your mind?
Yeah! I used to travel a lot with my grandparents in the summer. I call my grandpa ‘Big Chuck’ because I was always little. He lived on a boat for 10 years and would travel around the world. So every summer he would fly me out and I’d spend a month on the boat. It was like a grandpa summer camp.
Oh wow! Yeah I was going to ask you if you had any tradition each summer with your family or friends but that sounds like it! Is there one specific memory that sticks in your head from one of the trips?
Yeah, my grandpa would always run – he still does – he’s 76 and still runs. He would wake up at six in the morning and ask if I wanted to go on a walk with him, and a lot of the time the answer was no [laughs], but the times I would get up early and watch the sun rise and walk in Panama or Colombia with him, I always was glad that I did it. And one morning, I remember we got a bunch of bananas – I think we were in Panama – and fed the deer. They just eat it whole. There’s monkeys too, they would come down from the trees and we’d feed them different types of fruit. It was definitely the highlight of my childhood.
That is such a nice memory, I love to hear things like that. I think when you’re younger, you measure life by the summer. As you get older, is there anything you tend to measure life around?
That’s a good question. I guess just holidays, you know what I mean? Besides that, not necessarily. I like the feeling of waking up one morning and the weather’s changed and you can feel it. It’s a new chapter. I think, what does this chapter have in store for me?
I actually felt like that today. It does feel like you’re starting over, and almost gets you out of that monotonous feeling that you can get stuck in.
Yeah, exactly. And time goes so quickly. I’m 23 – being a teenager felt so long, and now everything is flying!
Especially with COVID – a lot of people are saying that they can’t get past the age they were at the start of the pandemic, almost like they’re frozen in time.
Yeah I definitely feel like I lost a year of my life. I just mean in my internal clock. Every time someone asks me how old I am, I just keep wanting to say 22. It doesn’t help that all over the internet it says I’m born in 1999, and I’m like, why is everyone trying to age me? [laughs]
I’ll write it and get the change started.
[laughs] Going back to measuring your life by something, as an actor, do you ever feel like you’re measuring time by your projects? How do you sort of deal with that in-between?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think I have had some experience now learning to live with myself and sit in silence and exist. It was always school, or I had two jobs – job jobs, like serving ramen – just keeping myself super busy. I’m at a point right now where I have a lot of downtime and I get to figure out what my day looks like or what my schedule looks like. That sounds awesome, like I wish I could just do nothing all day, but it is so easy to not have good mental health when you’re by yourself and have to schedule your day [laughs]! It’s been a huge practice in eating right and going outside and exercising. In the beginning of trying to figure out how to live life, I would start going into hermit mode and then have to find a way to break out of it. It’s a lot easier when you’re surrounded by people because of your job or you have a certain schedule because of your job to compartmentalize the day.
Right. Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?
I’ve always been pretty introverted [laughs].
I’m the same way, and it’s funny because I think people assume that those in certain careers are either introverted or extroverted. Most people assume actors are extroverted to do their job, but I don’t think that’s the case at all. What do you find to be one of the more difficult things that comes with the world of acting as an introvert?
It’s getting easier and easier for me to reach out a hand and meet someone for the first time. That was really hard for many years. Mainly because – here’s the thing – I really dislike the general first talking stages when you talk about the weather and you talk about where you live and boring stuff. It has been really hard for me to get past that stage. I just wanna be like, Do you believe in aliens? What is the childhood trauma that you’re healing currently? Are you having a hard time setting boundaries in your life and what does that look like? What are your parents like? [laughs] These are the things that stimulate me. It is not socially acceptable to ask those questions to people you are first meeting, so getting past the socially acceptable part, I’ll just stay silent because I don’t want to talk about the weather. It actually hurts me physically [laughs].
I have never related more. I have to hold myself back from asking people questions that are way too socially intense [laughs]. I’m glad you said that though because I do have some more imaginative questions that should be interesting!
Watch me avoid all of them now! [laughs]
[laughs] I know, now you just go silent. You’re like, no thanks. I’m done talking, thank you!
[laughs] I’m totally joking!
From what I can tell from your Instagram, and correct me if I’m wrong, you seem very into surrealism. So, if you could create your own surrealist world, what would it look like?
That’s an awesome question. I have a lot of fun switching my perspective in real time. If I’m talking to someone or am watching TV, I sort of imagine them as 3D claymation and what they would look like as a cartoon. You know when people do those drawings and they’ll have their own style of cartoon to turn your face into? It’s like that but in a completely different dimension. It’s really fun switching the perspective in your head to really focus on what this would look like in that world. You can kind of turn anything. I’ll be sitting alone in the corner, but I’m in a completely different place.
That’s interesting! Then you must be someone who is very good at picturing things in your mind. I know some people can’t really see things in their mind at all.
I mean, I think anything can be practiced. You can practice switching your perspective. A fun thing to do is if you’re looking at artwork, you see one thing when you first look at it, but the more you look at it, you try and see something completely different. Then you can see how many perspectives you can change with one piece of art. For instance, you know those images on the internet where it’s like, do you see gold and white or blue and black? I’ll spend twenty minutes trying to see the other color, and you can! It’s about concentrating on seeing another perspective that isn’t your initial one. Like when I’m in a conversation with someone, I have an initial perspective, but if I step out of myself, maybe I can truly hear yours.
Right, that’s a very interesting thing to think about. Even taking that into the acting realm, do you find that you have to ground each character into a reality of your own or do you sort of create an entirely new realm in your head for your character?
It’s really important for me to find what’s grounded in truth for me even if it shapeshifts into the reality of someone else. We have such a large range of human emotions, and we have a template that’s already created for us and it’s called “the human experience,” right? So I believe that everyone has multiple aspects of themselves. The way I talk to my mom on the phone is completely different from the way I talk to my friend on the phone. They’re just two different aspects of me. If a character is going through something traumatic, I can tap into what’s been traumatic or hard for me. Even though it might be polar opposite to this exact situational occurrence of the character’s, the pain is still the same. I have a hard time going someplace else that’s not completely grounded in my own truth. It can look completely different on the outside, but on the inside, the feelings are the same.
Yeah, in you talking about the many sides people have to themselves, I think that’s where a lot of people feel like they don’t know themselves because they might not be settled with the fact that you can be two very different things, at the same time as well. As a person, do you feel like you know yourself very well?
I’ll never 100% be able to know me, and I won’t be able to ever 100% know anyone. I’m always changing, growing, and evolving. I’m always hopefully accessing a higher version of myself and reaching for that person, so I don’t know. This is just my belief, but because everyone is looking through their own spectrum or view of things, two human experiences will never be the same.
I think that it’s just so vast that I’ll never be able to fully know myself or what I’m capable of. I can do a million things. If I put time into it, I can be a professional skydiver, for example. I would never know what that’s like because I didn’t choose to do that thing. I think a lot of my personality and my patterns in my adult life stem from my three-year-old self. What was she experiencing that she’s still trying to experience through me? When I get upset over something, what is she saying that I need to listen to? And why do I think that [this thing] is going to fix that and not me. [This thing] being anything, for example me thinking I’m going to go buy clothes because three-year-old Rain is triggered.
That reminds me of a conversation I was having the other day with someone about how when I think back to a very young version of myself, I remember having some thoughts that are almost identical to the ones I have now whether that be in anxious thoughts or the way I see things. Do you feel that way?
I think it depends. I feel like I can tap into sixteen-year-old Rain, seven-year-old Rain. Depending on the situation at hand, those different versions of myself are speaking, and I just have to be careful that I don’t let the seven-year-old scream at someone. You know what I mean? It’s like, Okay, I’m the adult, I see you’re upset right now – this is all therapy shit – I’m here for you, I can help you. Let’s journal, let’s paint, let’s do something creative. What do you wanna go do? Just fuckin’ time out! [laughs] It’s like, you need to relax before you say something that gets me in trouble, and we’re gonna go play! Then the adult Rain will handle this conversation once I have my wits about me [laughs].
[laughs] I love that explanation!
Maybe that is just my experience, but I think if you’re enraged and you visualize your younger self – for me, I always get a clear image of how she’s feeling.
That must be such a nice guide for things too. I think there are people who can connect in that way, for sure. Okay, before we go though, I do have to ask you one last question that you mentioned before: Do you believe in aliens?
[laughs] I just think anything and everything is possible. I’ve had a lot of crazy alien dreams!
Oo that’s an interesting topic for another time! We have no idea what’s possible and out there.
I have no idea where we are [laughs], like we’re floating in space, what do you mean?? Earth is really cool. Let’s just have fun!
I couldn’t agree more. That’s a great note to end on.
photography Leeor Wild
fashion. Katie Bofshever @ A-Frame Agency
talent. Rain Spencer
make up. Allan Avendaño @ A-Frame Agency using L’Oreal Paris
hair. Fitch Lunar @ Opus Beauty using Oribe
creative production. Clara La Rosa
photography assistants. Paula Andrea + Khalilah Planta
make up assistant. Ruby Vo
interview. Tessa Swantek