Director / Writer
Burbank Arts Newsletter June 4 – June 16
1) Can you tell us a little bit about what you do?
I am a director/writer who started off in theater and found my way to film and television. I’ve been fortunate to direct some really fun shows like AMERICAN HORROR STORY, RAISING DION, CLOAK & DAGGER, MAYANS M.C. and more. I am also attached to direct a very special film about Walter Turnbull and the Boys Choir of Harlem called RISE AND SHINE. It is written by the amazing Erika Alexander (WU-TANG, BLACK LIGHTNING) and being produced by Erika and her wonderful producing partner Ben Arnon (THE BIG PAYBACK), as well as the fabulous producing duo, Paul Garnes and Tammy Garnes (SELMA). I am also developing a TV show with Kyra Sedgwick’s production company, Big Swing Productions, in conjunction with Michael B. Jordan’s production company, Outlier Society, titled THE AUTHENTICS based on the book by Abdi Nazemian.
2) How did you first become interested in art?
I was always a voracious reader and have been writing since I was very young. Writing was always an escape for me and a way to organize my thoughts and make sense of the world. In middle school, I discovered theater, and it changed my life. In theater, I found a community, an artistic outlet and a sense of belonging. I ended up majoring in theater and psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, with a directing emphasis and began writing and directing experimental theater. Post-graduation, I found my way to CalArts where I earned an MFA in Theater and Film. I had always intended to move back to New York and pursue theater, but at CalArts, I ended up falling in love with film. Throughout the years, I have continued to direct theater, and it will always be my first love. But the power of cinema and television is that you can reach an audience beyond the four corners of one room. Although nothing can match the immediacy and visceral feelings of theater, I am grateful that I can reach a large audience through my work in film and television.
3) How does art enrich a community, and what are some ways people can engage with art in Burbank?
Art can bring a community together. Whether it’s through the communal feeling of sitting in a darkened movie theater immersed in the same story, or laughing together at stand-up, or falling collectively under the magical hypnosis of a beautiful play or musical performance, art can allow us to connect with others. But art can also change the world. The stories we tell can heal and inspire. They can introduce us to communities, people, concepts, insights, history and ideas we might not have otherwise known. And art can help us feel not so alone. As a small child, I read so that I could escape into incredible worlds of fantasy, but I also read because the characters in those pages became my friends and the authors felt like soulmates. I have always been drawn to the arts to connect with others and to feel part of something bigger than myself, and that is a tremendous gift that art can give.
I am on the Advisory board of an incredible non-profit called The Unusual Suspects Theater company. We work with youth in the most under-served parts of Los Angeles. Through the arts, we help with gang prevention and bring theater to incarcerated youth, teaching hope, confidence, choice and empathy. We bring free theater classes into middle schools and high schools, allowing these young people to know that their voices matter and need to be heard. Through the Unusual Suspects, I’ve seen first-hand how art can change lives, including my own.
There are SO many ways to engage with the arts in Burbank. We have tons of small theaters, places to watch stand-up, a plethora of movie theaters and art galleries, and many places to take dance or music classes. And we are a community filled with artists. It is so cool to see how even during this crazy time of Covid, young artists are filling our streets with inspiring chalk art and small stuffed animal zoo exhibits on their front lawns. At Halloween, it’s awe-inspiring to see all the local artists build incredible haunted houses at their homes. And in Magnolia Park, there are tons of shops celebrating local artisans.
4) If you could share with our community one thing about art, what would it be?
That art can change the world 🙂 During this crazy time of COVID, I feel like we need art more than ever — to connect us, distract us, entertain us, inform us, and inspire us. So if you can, please continue to make art and share your voice with the world!
To learn more about Rachel and her work, visit https://rachelgoldbergdirector.com/