Rachel Schrey is one of four leading ladies in the recently released Summer of ’67 movie (read the TBAP movie review, as well as the interviews of Mimi Sagadin, Bethany Davenport, and Sharonne Lanier). Dealing with breast cancer, this sweet, level-headed and softly-spoken woman showed deep faith, admirable resilience and discipline before, during, and after the shooting of Summer of ’67. Her story is as fascinating as her sunny personality! Speaking with TBAP on how she tackled the recent storm in her life, as well as a bit about her journey so far into the entertainment industry, Rachel shares content about her life that inspires faith and trust in God in anyone who would draw close enough and pay attention. Take a look!
Miranda ~ Hello Rachel! Delighted to have you visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Also, how did you become a Christian?
Rachel: It’s great to be here! Thank you for having me! Well, I’m originally from Williamsburg, VA, and my husband and I moved from there to Nashville about two years ago to pursue careers in the film industry. I jumped into acting classes, and after about a year, I was able to transition out of my full-time day job to balancing part-time work with acting jobs. I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home, and I’ve always had a strong relationship with the Lord.
Miranda ~ You had surgery eight days before you appeared on set for the filming of the Summer of 67 movie. What inspired the strength to appear on set so soon as opposed to letting the role go, or requesting more time to heal? Also, how would you describe your reaction to your diagnoses and how did you deal with it?
Rachel: In my mind, it wasn’t really an option for me. I knew that the role of Milly was for me, and there was no way I was going to let it go. When I got the diagnosis and was discussing surgery options with my doctors, I let them know about my plans to be on set and asked them if we could work that out. (Actually, I wasn’t really asking them, I was telling them, I had to be on set on such and such a date!) They said that I would be technically able to work after a few days post-op as long as I wasn’t lifting anything heavy or exerting myself. Part of the way I dealt with the diagnosis was to keep as much normalcy in my life as possible. I probably pushed it a bit, but sticking with the plan to be on set and being ready for my role was one of the main ways I achieved that feeling of normalcy at that time. I sort of had this desperate survivalist mentality. Keeping my head down and plowing through and tackling the role was how I determined in the very beginning of my journey that I wouldn’t let cancer beat me. And it truly, truly helped. I’m convinced this film and the timing of it was a God-send.
As far as how I dealt with the diagnosis after the film, it was harder. The reality of what had happened to me started to settle in. It was pretty traumatizing, and it took months of talking with close family and friends, prayer, journaling, other forms of writing, and time before I experienced physical and emotional healing. I stayed in the Word almost daily, and found that the more vulnerable I was with my story (something that was extremely difficult in the beginning), the freer I felt. Now, writing and blogging is one of the best ways for me to process what happened and hopefully encourage anyone else who is going through a similar difficult time.
Miranda ~ You’re somewhat of a newlywed! Huge congrats! So far, what would you say is the difference between being married and being a single in a serious relationship?
Rachel: Thank you! I’m so blessed to have such a truly amazing husband! That’s a great question. I would say planning your finances together. Thankfully, we have really good communication about that, but it’s definitely a big change to have to consider the other person or your family plans as whole before you decide to spend money on something. But, it pays off to be as disciplined as you can be and stick to your budget. It brings a lot of peace! 🙂 And there are huge benefits to pooling your resources. Personally, I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford acting classes or enjoy working part-time if I wasn’t married!
Miranda ~ Summer of ’67 is a delightful and solemn story of love and war. What, about the story, inspired you to accept the role? How has the character you played affected you personally? What do you hope the viewers of this movie will take away from it—particularly from the role you played?
Rachel: When I read the script during the audition process, I felt an immediate connection to Milly. The whole story and all the characters were so vivid, and I liked that it paid such an honest, inspiring tribute to our military families. Probably the biggest way my role affected me was the friendships I developed on set. Bethany Davenport, who plays my sister, Kate, in the film, has become one of my closest friends. She and several other cast and crew members were really there for me while I was in the beginning stages of processing my surgery, and I’ll be forever thankful for that! I hope people are reminded of an important time in American history, and that the film causes them to ask themselves if they have an “anchor” in their lives that they can hold onto during difficult times, and if so, who or what is that?
Miranda ~ Did you mentally/physically prepare yourself in any way for this role? How would you describe your experience on set?
Rachel: I spent a lot of time imagining how the circumstances must have felt back then and getting as connected as possible to those feelings as I studied each scene. I really wanted to pay homage to what our military families went (and still go) through. Plus, I related to Milly. She never could have imagined what that time in life would hold for her and how much her faith would be tested, just like I hadn’t seen my own recent storm coming. I think we can all relate to that in some way or another. Bethany and I also got together several times to rehearse and delve deep into our characters’ relationship, as well as just to hang out as friends. I think that really helped us to bring depth and a believable connection on screen.
My experience on set was so much fun. I loved the costumes, the crew, the locations…and Sharon cooked the best food for us! I looked forward to shooting pretty much every scene. Also, Sharon is one of the kindest directors I’ve ever worked with. She was so full of vision and passion for the project, which rubbed off on everyone involved. She had a lot of trust for us as actors, so I felt a lot of freedom to bring my own take on Milly to each scene, which was really fun. Everyone was so kind. I definitely felt like I was among family within just a few days of shooting, and I’m still in touch with many of the people who were involved!
Miranda ~ With screen and media reshaping culture, how do you believe this story can affect the world positively today?
Rachel: I believe this film can bring a strong message of hope. So many people in this world are broken and hurting, without the knowledge of the One who can truly heal and restore them. This story shows that when life feels like it’s closing in on you, there is a way to stay strong, get healing, and receive comfort—outside of yourself and your efforts. While this film isn’t a “Christian film,” per se, the lead characters are women of faith. The results of their faith can be seen, and hopefully that provides an example of the real, tangible hope that can be found in the Lord and His power.
Miranda ~ Since becoming an actress, have you come to view the film industry differently than you did before becoming a part of it? If yes, how so? What would you like to see change in the Christian movie industry today?
Rachel: If anything, my fascination for the whole process of telling a story through film has increased. It’s truly a difficult process from beginning to end, and when all the elements come together and a unique story is told well, it seems magical. I’d like to continue to see more good-quality films with underlying themes that draw people into curiosity about what they believe and why. Along with overt Christian content, subtlety can also be very thought-provoking when it comes to filmmaking. Themes you have to really look for and think about can be a powerful way to awaken wonder in someone about God and the supernatural, so I think it’d be interesting to see more films made along those lines. I think it could help broaden the audience that films with a Christian message are able to reach.
Miranda ~ Who are the people who’ve influenced you personally and professionally? How have they done so?
Rachel: One person who has influenced me personally is author Dr. Caroline Leaf. Her book, Switch On Your Brain, delves into the science behind retraining your mind and learning to control your thoughts. It shows how science supports the Biblical concept of “renewing your mind” and “taking thoughts captive.” For me, those principles have been huge in overcoming anxiety in the past as well as distancing myself from the trauma of being diagnosed with cancer. It’s truly changed my life! And my acting coach, William Arnold, has been a tremendous support and encourager in my life. He has helped me grow tremendously as an artist, believing in me to go further with my performances when I didn’t think I could. I’ve learned deep lessons in his classes. I have truly been bettered as both an actor and an individual since getting to know him.
Miranda ~ What are you most grateful for, generally and right now?
Rachel: I’m most grateful for my health and for being on the other side of breast cancer. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to do any harsh treatments (I’m taking a natural holistic route, which I’m in the process of writing about on my blog, for anyone who’s curious), and consequently, my energy is up and I’ve been able to maintain my active lifestyle. And at the moment, I’m thankful for the supporting role I just booked in another independent feature, which I’ll shoot over the summer!
Miranda ~ What advice would you offer a young woman who believes that she’s been called by God to become an actress?
Rachel: Go for it! If God has called you, He will make a way. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to other actors and their journeys (I’m reminding myself of this, too). I’ve gotten most of my bigger roles through unconventional ways where it’s clear it was God who opened the door—so, like the Lord said to me, don’t be afraid to follow your own path. Trust Him, and He’ll help you succeed. Set your goals, lift them up to the Lord, and get ready to be directed a step at a time.
This or that (The Fun Qs!)
Coffee, Tea, or Mocha? Coffee
Dresses or Pants? Pants
Boots or Heels? Boots
Gym or Outdoor? Outdoor…but I love both!
Summer or Winter? Winter. I love snow and wearing layers.
Breakfast or Dinner? Breakfast
Cooking or Cleaning? Cleaning
Books or Music? Books
Juice or Smoothie? Smoothie
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
Fruit or Salad? Salad
Scarf or Gloves? Gloves
Blazer or Leather Jacket? Leather Jacket
About Rachel Schrey
Rachel Schrey is an actor and screenwriter based out of Nashville, TN. She is best known for her role as Milly in the film Summer of ’67 (2018). Her interest in film began at a very young age when she wrote scripts and asked her friends if they would be a part of her cast. They made countless “movies” using the family video camera. Rachel began formally training in video production and acting after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Animal Science. She has been married for over two years and is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed and had major surgery three weeks before beginning filming for Summer of ’67. Now, she continues to enjoy an active lifestyle and regularly blogs to share her experience of going through breast cancer. She just completed filming a short film that she wrote, produced/directed, and acted in, and is slated to begin shooting another feature film this coming summer. Visit Rachel’s personal blog and instagram to learn more about her.