We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Thundat and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, what do you attribute your success to?
I think the most important factor behind my success, and success in general, is being true to yourself. People resonate with authenticity, and the truer you are to you, the more people will resonate with and respect you. Never try to cater to what you think others want or expect of you. That won’t make you happy in the long run. Once you start trusting yourself, and trusting that you are unique and that you are enough, whether people agree with your ideas or not, you’ll be able to truly and authentically express yourself. Things will start to fall into place and you will find more freedom to live your life the way you want to. Happiness is all relative. We can’t focus on comparing ourselves with others. We each have a unique journey and timeline. Patience is key. But, patience with persistence. You have to believe in yourself and your goals. You have to work hard and push the envelope. When you give your 110% to something, you’ll see how it pays dividends. But working hard has to mean working smart. If a tactic isn’t working, try something else. But don’t give up. And ultimately, you want to live this life for you. It’s exhausting to live for other people. That never works. You’ll be striving for a hopeless goal. Live for you. Create for you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Just do you and the rest will follow.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I grew up in Knoxville, TN, and basically had no ties to the entertainment industry. My dad is a scientist and my mom is a teacher. I started doing musical theater in elementary and middle school and just fell in love with it. I think I was 11 when I knew acting and storytelling was what I wanted to do as a career. It was definitely a journey to get from there to where I am now. I have to remind myself how far I’ve come sometimes, because it’s easy to forget. But even getting to LA seemed like a pipe dream back then. I really believe there are little angels that guide you along the way. When I was in high school in Tennessee, I met a kid that was friends with my neighbors, and he told me about an acting class for film and television that his sister was in. That was what I had been looking for at the time, but had no idea where to even start. I told my mom about the class immediately, and she enrolled me the next week. From there I took on camera acting classes and then flew to LA the next year for a talent competition where I met my first manager. I wasn’t actually able to move to LA until after I graduated high school, but I applied to go to USC and got in, and once I was here I began taking acting classes and auditioning alongside going to school. Oh and I never saw that kid that told me about those acting classes again, and when I bring him up to my neighbors they don’t even remember ever having a friend like that. Being in LA was amazing, but I feel really lucky because I immediately fell into a great community here. By another stroke of fate I found Lauren Patrice Nadler’s acting studio, and enrolled in classes. That studio changed the course of my life. Not only is she a fantastic teacher and I grew so quickly, but I met people that would become my family, my closest friends and eventually my roommates. I honestly don’t know who or where I’d be without that studio. For me pursuing an artistic career was against the norm. My parents are very academic and the expectation was always to have a stable career as a doctor or a lawyer or something like that. I was pre-med at USC for my first 3 years, until I switched to and graduated with a business degree. I am thankful that I was so tethered to acting and that I knew I couldn’t possibly do anything else, otherwise the pressure to live up to expectations might have swayed me from pursuing it. But I think if you are so passionate, and are genuinely willing to go through the ups and downs of this career path, it is so worth it. It’s about patience, persistence and hard work. And again, you have to do it for you! I am so obsessed with creating that there is literally nothing else that I would be happy doing. I think the things I am most excited about are telling my stories. I have so many of them bubbling up inside of me. Whether they are extensions of my real life, or stories I dreamed up, there is this need and desire to get them out into the world. And I really express myself best through writing and creating. I just finished writing a pilot for an hour long drama series. I’m super excited about that. It was one of those things I had been thinking about for a while, and finally during the quarantine it all came out on the page. I am also collaborating on another series, created by a friend of mine, called Dredgewood, which is a supernatural teen thriller. I have a bunch of other projects in the works, some of my own and some I am collaborating on with others. But I think one of the things that makes me the happiest is getting to create something beautiful with others, something that is little pieces of you. My passion for storytelling comes from this desire to connect people—to help others see and understand different perspectives and people. This world is so divided and disconnected, film is one of those rare and beautiful mediums that has the potential to bridge those gaps.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oooh. Good question! One of the things I love most about LA is how vast and diverse it is. It has so much to offer, you couldn’t possibly ever be bored. My favorite restaurant in the city, hands down, is KazuNori, which is a little hand roll place in downtown LA. The chefs make the rolls right in front of you and put them down as you finish each one. It’s so delicious, quite affordable and NEVER disappoints. Another favorite gem is Maccheroni Republic, also downtown. It’s a tiny Italian spot that has a small menu, and the pasta is handmade and SO good. It’s a great date spot. I also really love Jinya Ramen Bar. Hands down best ramen in LA. And I am a sucker for Mendocino Farms. They just have such bomb sandwiches and salads, and the curried couscous is unreal. And lastly, SunCafe in Studio City. I love vegan food and they have some of the best. Literally anything you order there is good. Highly recommend. While I love the city, I love getting out of the city. There are so many incredible places that are an easy 1-2 hour drive outside the city. Malibu is super close, and I love going down to the beach there. Point Dume, or anywhere along the coast. Malibu has some of my favorite hiking spots. I’m an outdoorsy person and love nothing more than camping under the stars. Ojai is another spot that’s only about an hour and a half outside of LA. And then a little further than that, Santa Barbara. You can literally travel in any direction from LA and get somewhere great. I also love camping in Joshua Tree. The greater LA area does have some incredible hikes though. My favorite hiking spot is probably Mount Baldy. It’s a pretty decent climb, just about 14 miles I think, and definitely a full day activity. The Angeles National Forest has some other amazing trails too. I also just discovered a gorgeous sunset hiking spot in Los Feliz. Not sure what it’s called (or maybe I do and don’t wanna give it up!). Museums! I love museums. LA has so many. I love The Getty and LACMA. Could definitely spend a day at either of these places. The Beach! My favorite beach is Manhattan Beach. I’m a long distance runner, and Manhattan also has a really nice wood chip trail that I will run sometimes or bring my dog and walk down to The Strand. Manhattan is less touristy than other beaches in my opinion. And it also has my favorite Acai bowl place—Paradise Bowls, just off The Strand. But I also love to go down to the beach to watch the sunset. I do love the occasional Melrose/West Hollywood hangout. I have a weakness for Urth Caffe, and walking around Melrose is fun. Dinner at Gracias Madre or Catch LA, and I love EP&LP rooftop for a nice little happy hour.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Lauren Patrice Nadler – My amazing acting coach who helped me grow since I got to LA! She’s wonderful, and her studio and the community at her studio is my home and family. Also my incredible manager, Joshua Revives!
Rachael Humphries, Michael Roud, Joseph Calvo