Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, AfterBuzz TV is the artist-friendly entertainment news platform that celebrates, discusses, interviews, promotes and reports on the widest range of stars, creators and content through video, audio and article publications.
Rachel Leyco is a woman of many titles and wears many hats in the film world. You’ve seen her in the hit BET show Games People Play, as well as Atypical, Chicago Fire, and many more. When she is not making you fall in love with her TV characters, she’s producing, writing scripts, directing, and fighting for human rights for the LGBTQ and Black community.
She says it is important for her to have a diverse cast that provides opportunities for marginalized groups because representation is important.
“It is my number one priority for sure not because it’s like a trend or because it’s ‘in’…it’s who I am…I am a queer woman of color and I want to see that in the work that I’m doing,” Leyco says proudly.
She also believes it is important for non-Black fans and creators to give credit to the Black community for trends within the entertainment industry.
“The Black community and the Black culture has really paved a way in cinema and television for marginalized communities…I feel like Asian-American cinema and television wouldn’t be where it is today, without the Black community.”
She says she uses art to educate herself on the Black community, and how to be an activist for underrepresented communities.
“Art is my activism. I watched Ava Duvrnay’s 13th and that, that shook me to my core,” Leyco explains. “You think you know a lot but you don’t, especially in the history of America because they don’t teach you these things in school which is really infuriating to me.”
Mental health is also something Leyco holds dear to her heart. In an interview on ‘Moore with Sana,’ she says she’s had to deal with mental health issues. Leyco mentions that one of the biggest misconceptions about mental health is that you’re ‘crazy’ if you deal with those issues.
“The biggest one is that mental health or mental illness is a sign of weakness, which it’s not, I think it’s the complete opposite. Someone can talk about their mental health or mental illness is so vulnerable and for me vulnerability is strength,” she adds.
Leyco says her culture’s beliefs on mental health and her upbringing inspired her to help create the web series Crazy.
“Being Asian-American, being queer, and having mental health issues… it’s so taboo in our culture. Growing up, I, my family, we never talked about emotions or feelings, and I didn’t even know the word therapy until high school,” she opened up in the interview.
Leyco is currently producing a film called Violet, Violet, which she says is inspired by her own life. It is a musical, coming-of-age drama film about a young girl who is so close to making her dreams in the music industry come true, but her PTSD from sexual assault stands in the way of her success.
“It’s a very vulnerable piece, it’s a very personal piece, inspired by my own life and it’s such an important and special story for me and I’m so grateful and so blessed that it’s had so much amazing reception,” she adds.
“I hope that people walking away from the film, especially sexual assault survivors, feel empowered and know that healing is possible and that they’re not alone in this and for people to feel hopeful about their future’s despite the struggles that they’re going through.”
Even though Violet, Violet is still developing and a permanent cast hasn’t been decided,Leyco is certain on who’s playing the lead!
“I wrote it so that I could play the lead because this is like a story that I just saw and I am the only one who could play this role, to be honest,” she said laughing confidently in the interview.
What’s better than one film? Two! Another developing film she is producing is Etherea, which is all about mental health, but with a twist of Sci-Fi!
Which film are you excited to see first from Leyco? Let us know in the comments below! If you love this article, make sure to share it with a friend!
Sana Moore is a host at Afterbuzz TV who loves to add her own sparkle all things in entertainment! “Serving you the freshest tea with a dash of brown sugar!” IG: @iam_sana_
Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence
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