Adriyan Rae is the definition of a powerhouse. An athlete, medical laboratory scientist, business owner, and actress, she continues to push the boundaries and never shies away from a challenge. I had the immense pleasure of chatting with Adriyan recently about the characters she’s portrayed, representation in media, and inspirations.
Check out the interview below!
Gabrielle Bisaccia: You attended the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, home of the cheesesteak. So I have to ask, what was your go-to spot to get one?
Adriyan Rae: Honestly, I love Ishkabibble’s and Allegra’s, which I feel are both hidden gems.
GB: It’s clear that you’re incredibly driven and accomplished. Who do you draw your strength and inspiration from?
AR: It really comes from my family. My mother and father sacrificed a lot for me, and I don’t come from a family that had much. To be able to be where I am today and have someone interview me really keeps me driven and humble. I also don’t want to backtrack, and always want to be progressing and impactful. Outside of my family, that’s the thing that really makes me want to continue to be specific about the work I choose and really dive into these characters using the talents that I have.
GB: Speaking of impactful roles, let’s talk about your character Peri in Light as a Feather. LGBTQ+ characters are so vital and not portrayed nearly enough in television and film. Did you realize the significance when you took on the role? Was playing a queer character any different?
AR: When I initially did the audition, I don’t know if I realized the significance of it because I was in the process of getting so many auditions at once and I was just trying to grind it out. When I got the call back and started diving into Peri, it really hit me that it was important and significant. I started doing a bunch of research and was just trying to be as authentic as possible to make sure that I was really representing in a positive light. That’s the beautiful thing about Light as a Feather; even though Peri ends up being an antagonist, it was all for love. Her actions were driven by love, and I like how the show portrayed that love always wins. I really enjoyed being able to bring that character to life,” and how they wrote love as something that really was the force behind everything that Peri did. I really saw how significant the role was afterwards; it allowed me to have a whole new perspective on how different things are very impactful and that all aspects of representation matter. When I had people texting and messaging me to tell me how it made them feel safe and how they loved to see the character loving on her partner so much, it made me happy knowing that we are giving the younger generation a safe space to truly be who they are, not have to hide, and to know that it’s great to be exactly who you are; you are enough and you are beautiful.
GB: How did you prepare for the role of Elida in Vagrant Queen? Is there a female action star that inspired your character?
AR: It’s funny because I made Elida so tomboyish. I literally modeled her after Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy, so a lot of my nuances as that character came from a man rather than a woman. Vagrant Queen was cool because Elida was an alien, so who really cares if she’s a man or a woman? It was a free space, so I just got to play around with it and be whoever I wanted to be. I loved that Elida could love whomever she wanted, and it wasn’t limited to just a man or just a woman. There was also a lot of agility training, boxing training, and hand-to-hand combat training that came with the role, and I did all my own stunts. I didn’t get a lot of time to prepare for the role because I flew out the day after I wrapped Light as a Feather. I also got to learn stick work, which was cool too!
GB: I wanted to ask you about the stunts because I know you used to play field hockey and run track. Did that help you with the stunts in Vagrant Queen?
AR: For sure! There is always a quick turnaround for TV, so when we were in Africa, I would get a fight choreography about two hours before I had to put it on camera. It was helpful because I already knew things, like how I would land when I jumped; these natural things of knowing your body you really learn by being an athlete.
GB: For your role as Gianna Mackey on Chicago Fire, did you consult with real paramedics for authenticity?
AR: I actually used to practice medicine. I have my degrees in Physician’s Assistant and Medical Laboratory Science. Regarding EMT specific nuances, the cast has an amazing expert that comes in to help us and teach us everything. It really helped to make sure that the medicine we were doing made sense. She’s the person I really consulted with, and the show does a great job of making sure that we don’t look crazy!
GB: You’ve played a paramedic, a space queen, a college student, and an influencer, to name a few, but you’ve yet to play a scientist, which I feel is a missed opportunity considering your educational background in medical laboratory science! Would that be a role you’d be interested in?
AR: I would love to play a scientist! I don’t think people know how much of a geek I am. I would love to have a character that just gets to geek out and be completely like that. I don’t know what it is, but when I audition, they don’t see me like that. I’ve also wanted to be on Grey’s Anatomy for years, but that hasn’t been in my cards quite yet!
GB: I think you need to just go into those auditions with a lab coat and stethoscope and really sell it!
AR: I took headshots like that! I tried everything. I took these headshots in glasses with my actual stethoscope and white coat. Then I printed them and took myself over to ABS Studios and asked if I could see Linda Lowy to give her my headshot and resume and ended up placing them on her assistant’s desk. I really tried and went above and beyond, but I never got called in!
GB: You’ve been in comedies, dramas, and supernatural thrillers. Which genre would you say is your favorite? Is there a genre you haven’t been in that you’d like to?
AR: This is a very tough question for me because I love both drama and comedy, and I love things that include both. I also love action and that’s why I like Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy so much. Something that I’m manifesting and that is going to happen for me is a role that includes them all. Something like the essence of The Hunger Games where I get to have comedic moments, drama, and kick ass on screen! I don’t know if I could say my favorite is any single one of them because I really do love them all. There are times when I just want to do all drama and there are other times when I want to crack jokes for days. I really just have a deep passion and love for them all!
GB: You recently portrayed the role of Candice in the season finale of the hit show, Atlanta. I saw Zazie Beetz in The Harder They Fall and fell in love with her character, Stagecoach Mary. What was it like acting opposite her in Atlanta?
AR: The first time I was on Atlanta was in the Champagne Papi episode. I played opposite Zazie Beetz, but just in a group of girls type of setting. Our characters didn’t have a lot of direct interaction other than the scene where I swing a phone at her and am like, ‘Hey girl, talk on my Instagram Live!’ and she doesn’t say anything. I just remember her being the sweetest person. She’s a great, genuinely amazing individual. She’s always been just so talented and inspiring for me. This go around where we had a lot of one-on-one scenes and a lot of dialogue between the two of us, I just learned so much from her. We sat down and talked about our characters’ backgrounds and how our friendship had grown over the years. We had different things that we could bring to the scene and we created a backstory and a history. In the last scene when my character Candice and Zazie’s Van are having a conversation, you’ll see Candice look off into the distance and she’s having these deep thoughts as she’s listening to Van tell her a story about how she’s feeling so lost. Then she sheds a tear and what’s really happening is Candice realizing that she feels the exact same way as Van but doesn’t have the courage to say it like Van does. She realizes that they are going on the same journey and that’s what makes her so compassionate towards Van. Instead of being aggressive or abrasive towards her, it really allowed her to have compassion and love towards her. I truly believe that working with Zazie is why those scenes came out that way, because she’s such a phenomenal actress and was so giving. We just got to sit down and really learn about our characters and bring new layers to the performance.
GB: Tell me about your mantra, #LovandLight.
AR: I’ve been saying love and light since high school. In my head, I’m thinking that I made this up myself and that no one else in the world has this mantra but me! But it truly does resonate with my spirit so much. I used to go through phases, like we all do, trying to figure out why I’m here and what’s my purpose, and that’s what resonated with me- that I’m here to spread love and be light. By doing that, I help to unite people and create a deeper understanding, which therefore creates even more love amongst one another. With that being what I believe I’m here to do, I only felt it was natural to name my company that and make sure that it’s the mantra my company has because it is an extension of me. I don’t ever want to do things that are just for show or that aren’t real to the essence of the person that I am. That’s why #LoveandLight Media has the #LoveandLight Heart & Soul Scholarship where we try to give back to people. It’s why we move in the way that we do. We are here to spread love and be light.
GB: What sparked your desire to take on the endeavor of starting your own entertainment company?
AR: I think it’s important for us to take our financial freedom into our own hands. That’s been a part of the journey for me because I didn’t have financial freedom growing up, or for most of my life. A part of making sure that I can secure it for the longevity of my life is very important. So, I started my own company and became the CEO of it, and it allows me to cut my own check while helping others. The financial aspect is why I felt I had to start a whole company. Of course, I could spread love and be light all on my own, but this allows me to have a wider reach to do this through the corporate world. It’s just a really cool way you can utilize platforms and companies to accomplish genuine things.
GB: What’s next for you?
AR: Filming for season two of The Game is happening soon and I’m super excited to see all my castmates and crew again and to just get the work in. I hope you all tune in when it comes out!