I'm sitting on a couch in Brooklyn as Rachel True — aka Rochelle, the black girl who hexed Marcia Brady in The Craft — reads my tarot over the phone. "The nine of cups comes up for you," she tells me. "It's the wishing card. You're at a stage of your life where you can manifest anything." Rachel has been a lover of the supernatural since childhood, and she received her first tarot reading as a teenager before acquiring a deck of her own. She tells me that the cards reveal patterns in our lives rather than predicting the future; that they give us a way to connect with our intuition. Card by card, she interprets my spread in a serious but warm tone, following each explanation with questions like "How often do you visualize your future?" and "What is your dream?" These questions were affirmations of things that were already on my mind.
When I was the only black girl in my private suburban religious school, I connected with Rachel's iconic role as Rochelle because, like me, she was bullied by racist classmates and teased for having "nappy hair." In an era where onscreen depictions of black adolescence were few and far between, her character's story validated my own narrative and made me feel less alone.
Rachel, whose connection with divination preceded her career as an actress, currently does readings for clients over the phone and at the House of Intuitionin Los Angeles. A week before our reading, she told me about working on The Craft, why diverse representations of blackness are essential, and about her forthcoming role as Marie Laveau, the historic voodoo queen of New Orleans.
Dianca Potts: You grew up in New York City. How did that shape your creative interests?
Rachel True: My family lived in the East Village until I was in junior high. Then we moved to upstate New York. It was amazing getting the chance to be a New York City kid, especially back in the day. I lived there during one of its most dangerous periods, in the late '70s and early '80s, but we still walked to school by ourselves, took the subway, and went to the Met. Being introduced to things like that as a young child definitely sparked my creative side.
DP: Were your parents involved in the arts?
RT: My father was an antiques dealer, and my stepmother was an actress. Some of my earliest memories are of standing in the back of the theater while she was rehearsing. When she was onstage, it amazed me that she could become another person when she was in character. It was fascinating. It made me realize that I wanted to act.
DP: That sounds like the ideal childhood.
RT: In some ways it was, but one thing I want to throw out there is that my parents split up pretty much as I was being born. After that, they both took off and did different things, so my brother and I were in foster care until I was four years old, when my dad came and got us. People don't know this about me, but I feel really lucky to have ended up with a primary parent at a certain point. The people that we lived with before that were fantastic. I actually had no idea I was in foster care until about ten years ago, when my half-sister mentioned it. They were amazing people who had a great home. I'm eternally grateful to them for being such good caretakers.