Interview: Reneé Rapp Wants to EGOT

Reneé Rapp's debut album, "Snow Angel," is out now.

By: Sep. 28, 2023
Interview: Reneé Rapp Wants to EGOT

Like any true theater kid, Reneé Rapp is already looking ahead to her next project.

After winning the 2018 Jimmy Award for excellence in high school theater, the North Carolina native made her Broadway debut as Regina George in Mean Girls the Musical at the age of 19.

Following her break-out success on Broadway, Rapp was later cast on Mindy Kaling's Sex Lives of College Girls series on HBO before releasing her debut single, "Tattooes," in 2022. As her recognition as a singer-songwriter skyrocketed, Rapp released her debut album, "Snow Angel," this past summer.

One record-breaking #1 album and sold-out worldwide tour later, Rapp has cemented her place as a musical powerhouse. However, she still doesn't feel much different than she did growing up as a theater kid.

BroadwayWorld sat down with Rapp to discuss her whirlwind year, how Mean Girls prepared her for tour, and how she plans to return to Broadway to claim her EGOT.

It seemed like you really worked on this album non-stop at the beginning of the year, which must have been a whirlwind couple of months. What did it feel like when you finally got to release it?

Honestly, it was nerve-wracking, but I kind of don't remember it coming out, if that makes sense. Like, obviously I do in a way, but I don't remember experiencing it coming out, which is so interesting.

It was a lot of a blur. Like, okay, something that I deeply care about, it's like out in the world. It's just like a big first moment for my career. It was something that I desperately wanted people to like. I am a theater kid. I want people to like my work, let's be clear. So it was exciting and it was also really anxiety-inducing.

When that did come out, just because I know how important it was to you, did it feel like an emotional release along with the physical release? Especially with all of the deep feelings associated with the album?

To be honest, I still don't think I have an emotional release from it. But honestly I haven't had an emotional release from maybe anything, ever, so I actually don't really know. I mean, I'm just not capable of emotional release. [laughs]

So it's not something you really think about, necessarily?

No, that's not in the cards for me. It's just because I'm very high-strung and I work a lot. I have the millennial curse of Gen-Z, so yeah.

How has the tour been so far?

It's really exciting. It's very cool. I saw some videos this morning of my couple shows I did last year, and you don't think about it until you see it side by side. I saw the different capacity rooms that I was playing last year versus this tour. It was very, very, very humbling. It was really, really cool. I loved seeing the difference and also hearing the difference.

Honestly, I don't really get impressed with myself ever, but I was like, proud of myself as a performer. I was like, "Oh, we've grown, we've grown." So it's been a lot of fun. I mean, it's f-ing hard. This album is like vocally really hard to sing every night. But my dad is always telling me, if you could do eight shows a week, you could do anything.

I was going to ask, how did that Broadway schedule prepare you for this tour?

I mean, that is the most intense physical and emotional labor of love I think I've ever done. At least with songwriting, it's cathartic. With stage acting, it is cathartic in a way, but it's doing the same thing every night.

When I want to write a new song, I want to write exactly how I feel. So that has its own kind of thing. When I'm on stage, it's obviously not the same thing. I felt like I had the mind of a f-ing soldier when I was working on Broadway. I literally cannot believe that I did it. I cannot believe that hundreds of people literally do it every night. I think it is the hardest thing ever. But it's also the most impressive. I feel like my flex in life is to be able to say like, yeah, I did do eight shows a week.

I try to do some impressive stuff, but no one is ever more impressed than when I tell them I was on Broadway. I think that's just a testament to how hard actors work on stage. But yeah, oh my god.

I mean, you were like 19 at the time. It must have been so overwhelming being younger.

Yeah, 100 percent. I mean, that was also like lovely. [laughs] But I will say I've been met with such openness from the Mean Girls cast, specifically, just really embracing me. There were not any moments where I felt like I was doubted, which was really important because I needed that support and I needed to know that everybody believed in me. I did and it was great.

Aside from that stamina, onto more of the performance aspect, what has it been like for you to play yourself on stage as opposed to a character?

Well, it's interesting. I think one of the best vocal performances ever is off of Leslie Odom, Jr.'s personal album, he has a cover of "Without You" from Rent. I was watching him do that song last night on TikTok. I was just so blown away. I think for me, I've always felt like, of course there are two different mediums. But I have always felt like myself in both, in a lot of ways. Maybe not physically or by the words that I'm saying, but I've always felt like I'm in my body, whether I'm playing another character or myself.

But I was watching this video of Leslie Odom, Jr. singing that song and I felt like, I'm speaking for him right now, but I felt like to me, as the audience member, like he was giving the same thing. It was really, really, really cool because you just kind of see this through line in actors, especially when they're singing, because it's so tried and true to who they are, whether those words are theirs or not.

Switching gears a little bit, I love how open you are on this album about your sexuality. I think it is so important for the younger queer generation to be seeing this in our culture. What is it like for you to hopefully give people that queer escape when they come to your show?

I grew up in North Carolina. Obviously, you could be in LA or New York and still run into some homophobic or transphobic bullshit. But it was definitely part of the culture where I was raised. The thing that was so interesting was that theatre culture in Charlotte is so prevalent and is such a big f-ing deal that I actually felt very held and embraced by theatre culture in Charlotte. Theater culture kind of was queer culture, in a way. That's at least where I found it.

So for me as a kid, growing up in community theater, that was so important and was something that really held me in my queerness, whether I accepted myself or not, at least other people did. I'm hoping that that's how people feel at my shows because that is something that I treasure from my childhood a lot.

Looking into the future, I know you are so busy, but is there anything that you want to conquer next? Is there anything you have your mind set on, or is that too far in the distance?

No, it's not too far in the distance. I've always said I want to be an EGOT so badly. That includes the T, which is Tony, so I would love to go back to Broadway. I would love to just keep doing more things where people accept me.

Do you have any thoughts on how you'd want to return to Broadway? Do you want to write? I would love if you wrote a musical.

It's interesting. I never thought about it but recently, it's been so top of mind. I feel like, especially with like pop girls, pop girls right now are theater kids. You cannot tell me any f-ing different. Like, if you look at Oivia [Rodrigo] or like Lizzie [McAlpine] or anybody like that, like those are theater kids, right? Those are the girls that are writing like incredible, beautiful, like almost like Sondheim-storytelling kind of lyrics, right? So like they absolutely are intersectional.

I think it would be really fun. I think it would be really cool. Maybe if there's the right story, absolutely, I would love to.

Listen to Reneé Rapp's debut album, "Snow Angel," here:

Photo Credit: Katia Temkin



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