One of the greatest things about the 1996 teen witch movie The Craft, besides Skeet Ulrich getting thrown out a window, was Rachel True’s Rochelle Zimmerman, and her ahead of its time plot line about racist bullying in a very white town in the ’90s.
True, now 50, is closer to her character than ever. She works as an “Intuitive Tarot Reader” at the House of Intuition in Los Angeles, offering readings for clients over the phone or in person while also occasionally landing some acting roles. (She appeared in Sharknado 2 in 2014.)
However, as True revealed in an interview in Thursday’s Lenny Letter, it wasn’t just within the confines of the film that she struggled to belong in predominately white spaces. Though filming The Craft was “a blast” and “literally as much fun as you’d think,” she also experienced an infuriating instance of racism when she wasn’t invited to participate in the movie’s press junket alongside the rest of its stars.
“To this day, my friends are like, ‘Let it go,'” she said. “But it just seemed a little racist back then, to be honest. That you have four girls in a movie and you don’t include the black one. I did end up going on one junket because one of the other actors called the producer and said, ‘What’s happening here? Will you please include her?’ So they did.”
For those unacquainted with press junkets, know that the studio inviting Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, and Neve Campbell to promote The Craft but not the fourth star of the film is not remotely normal. True noted that “things have really changed” and “times were different then,” but still — it’s heartbreaking that she went through that in the first place, and it’s tough not to think of how her career might have grown if Hollywood made more space for black actresses 20 years ago.
Because as True also noted, the role of Rochelle was initially written as white, with the character struggling with an eating disorder instead of racist bullying. True only got her foot in the door when a friend of hers, Jordan Ladd, also auditioned, and recommended True for the job — though she wasn’t exactly a fan of how the character was first written.
“I thought, ‘Yeah, that’s so not me,'” True said. “So I just went in and did the best that I could with the material. The audition went well, and I got a few more callbacks. As I worked more with the script, I literally said, ‘If anyone is going to be a little black witch in this town, it’s me.'”
Thankfully, True showing up to the callback with crystals in her pocket actually worked in her favor. Because the film lives on with struggling teen girls everywhere thanks to streaming options and the power of nostalgia, and all thanks to True, it’s one of the few teen films from the era with a major black character.
“When I was auditioning for the movie, I wasn’t actually thinking about, ‘Oh my God, there’s not really many black people in teen movies,'” True said. “I wasn’t thinking about the ramifications of all that. I’d say maybe five years after the movie, I started having a lot of young girls and people of color coming up to me and telling me how much it meant to have someone who looked like them in the movie.”