We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Frawley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, how do you think about risk?
Risk has defined some of the most exciting and fulfilling projects I’ve worked on. It took me longer than I’d like to figure out that knowing the rules is important, but knowing how and when to break them is where you learn what kind of artist you really are. I put in some of my best auditions when I silence the voice in my head that’s telling my what I “should” do and give myself the freedom to play boldy. The projects I’ve taken on that have no safety net, few resources, that start from people who have a great idea and want to work together, those are the ones that end up feeding artistic growth. The times I felt like I really took big leaps in my career are the times that scared me most. I had no real producing experience when I joined the producing team with the Weird Sisters Theatre Project, and there were times I was definitely afraid I was going to let everyone down. But that trial by fire gave me new skills, confidence, and a stronger grasp of what I value and want from my career. Then there’s the other kind of risk, when you learn to draw boundaries as a working artist. I used to let that fear “what if I burn bridges, what if I never get hired again” creep in. But all that really did was discourage me from speaking up for myself and insisting on professional treatment. Sometimes self-advocacy feels like taking a big chance, but it’s one that always ends up being worth it. The biggest gift artistic risk-taking has given me is the willingness to take more risks, bigger risks, the older I get. It’s exciting, the opportunity to refine and redefine yourself over and over. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like mistakes mark your career with failure. But for the most part, they’re just the growing pains of evolution. I look forward to taking new chances in the future.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Something I struggled with very early on in my career was the pressure I felt to narrowly define my type. There were aspects of my work and myself as an artist that just didn’t feel like they fit any one place. And while it is of course useful to have a clear idea of how you present for audition purposes, something I’ve really enjoyed and come to value in myself as an artist is my ability to become a jack of all trades. I love learning new things and having new experiences, and I’ve been able to use that to take on new artistic adventures. Over the years I’ve worked as an actor in theatre and film, commercial, voice-over, audiobook narration, as well as writing, producing, teaching, directing, working in production and design, dabbling in podcasting, and a myriad of other artistic pursuits. Giving myself the freedom to experiment has enriched me as an artist, strengthened me as an actor, and given me the kinds of tools, resources and relationships that keep my work well-rounded and fulfilling. More than the challenges of job insecurity, poorly paid gigs, burnout from working multiple survival jobs to supplement income, the things to overcome have been those early voices that whisper “am I good enough.” The ones that constantly discount and diminish the work I do, want to compare my progress to the perceived progress of others, that are quick to amplify all the ways I feel I’ve failed or fallen short. While I am by no means free of them completely, the artist I have become is in large part due to learning to recognize those voices and fight back. And when I can’t silence them completely, at least I can give them a wave and keep moving forward anyway.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oooo, fun. Imagining that we both have unlimited funds and free time, and the pandemic isn’t a thing, here are some highlights I’d recommend. 1. Food: Manuel’s Tavern for community nostalgia, Revolution Doughnuts or Jeni’s Ice Cream for delicious novelty treats, and local breweries for Atlanta pizzaz. Wild Heaven, Three Taverns and Lost Druid are some fun ones near me. 2. Fun: The botanical gardens! I’m obsessed. It’s never not a good time. I could stare at the sculptures and learn about crazy flora all day. I also love a festival, and Atlanta has great ones–art festivals, book festivals, seasonal community events, where you can check out local artists and vendors. 3. Entertainment: Check out the theatre scene! If you want a big beautiful production, the Atlanta Ballet, Opera or the Alliance Theatre have your back. For a more intimate space and some interesting projects, The Weird Sisters Theatre Project, 7 Stages, Shakespeare Tavern or (coming soon) Tipsy Tales are good bets!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The Atlanta theatre community has supported me all the way along. Some notable mentions go to the Shakespeare Tavern, where I did my apprenticeship when I first moved to Atlanta, the Weird Sisters Theatre Project, with whom I was a company member and who mentored me through my first crack at producing, and Lisina Stoneburner of the Company Acting Studio, who has given me some of the best tools and coaching of my career. A special shoutout goes to my Atlanta family (you know who you are) who has been with me every step of the way and supported me at every turn. Love you all.
Casey Gardner, Lola Scott, Daniel Parvis, Tyler Ogburn