Actor and storyteller Rachelle Cox on finding inspiration in the natural world and why we need a more accessible creative landscape
Rachelle Cox is a storyteller, actor and artist. Taking inspiration from the natural world and fantasy realms, Rachelle tells stories that focus on identity, queerness and neurodiversity. We caught up with Rachelle to chat about creative practice and a more accessible future in the creative industries.
Tell us a little bit about your work?
I like to refer to my work as storytelling. I’m captivated by fantasy and dreaminess, so I try to include an element of otherworldly-ness in everything I create. I mainly play around with performance, photography, video and visual arts; dissecting my identity and highlighting working-class, neuro-queer narratives where I can. I also freelance as an actor and model, trying to be the small fat representation I wish I had when I was younger.
You’re vocal about having ADHD, and its positives, as well as its common misconceptions. If you could bust one myth about ADHD what would it be?
My biggest pet peeve is the myth that neurodiverse people are lazy. We have issues with our executive functioning, which means we tend to lack dopamine and motivation. We get overwhelmed easily and it may take us longer to process information and activities. No one’s worth should be based on productivity, but that’s exactly what capitalism forces us to believe in order to uphold the system. It is ableist and wrong to assume everyone has the same threshold or pace. Not everyone can meet neurotypical standards, and shouldn’t be expected to. I always like to dream of a reality where people are allowed to take life at their own pace - without judgement or repercussions from others - but until people start being gentler and more open with themselves, we are lightyears away from this reality.
What makes you feel most creative?
Being in nature really inspires me. It gives me perspective on how insignificant so many of the things that keep me up at night are. I usually feel most creative deep at night, while processing my own thoughts and feelings. I think there’s an innate desire to pour all of our emotions and vulnerabilities into something tangible, even if you never share it with the world. Just to let it all out. I always feel so much lighter after pouring myself into a piece of work. Being around friends also makes me feel so deeply in-tuned with my creativity, especially when collaborating. My friends inspire me in ways I will never be able to put into words, I love them all so much. Their presence is always tender and playful. Even without intending too, we’re always creating queer dreaminess when we’re together.
What has been a career highlight of yours so far?
I honestly find it difficult to answer this question, because it’s not just a single moment. The fact that I am alive and here today, living in my dream city and being able to do what I love - that is my career highlight. Before moving to London, I was a shell of a human being. I had no hope for the future; I didn’t even know if I had one. As a child I was full of passion for performing; all I wanted to do was to act and create. I remember that dream came crashing down when I realised how inaccessible the industry is, for working-class people, but also for plus-size people looking for any role other than the comedic relief, or the one with low self-esteem. I never in my life would have thought that by 23 I’d be out of my small countryside village and signed to an acting agency. I’m so grateful for every single day that I get to wake up, create art and be surrounded by people that I love.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hope is that the creative industries become more accessible for neurodiverse, queer, working- class, fat and BIPOC individuals. There is still such a long way to go for any of these industries to be accessible to anyone other than rich, white men. It breaks my heart to think of how many passionate people are bursting with creativity and innovation, but are never given the opportunity to put it to use. We all have stories to tell and our voices are so important. The gatekeeping of these industries has ruined authentic storytelling and creativity, and nothing will change unless we all acknowledge the issues and work on ways to make progress in terms of accessibility.
What’s your favourite way to work?
My ADHD makes me very excitable - almost puppy-like - and I love channelling that energy into projects. I’m a pretty sociable person, like every Gemini, so collaboration is a dream to me. The spontaneity of working with people is so thrilling, I love the unpredictability of it all. You never know what’s gonna happen. It teaches you to let go of perfectionism and release any expectations you had, and instead, trust in the process and in yourselves. I like to believe it teaches you a lot about yourself and those you’re working with. It allows vulnerabilities to arise and to be processed; art can truly be an entry point to healing.
You can follow Rachelle here!