Rachel McVay (Alumni Artist)

Originally from Texas, this Actor/Choreographer/Burlesque Dancer/Stunt Woman/Boxer/Shakespearean Leading Lady has moved to Los Angeles from New York City, and has appeared in features, shorts, indie films, web series, music videos, and quite a few commercials. Rachel studied in England with the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Resident Dance/Fight Choreographer for Go-Fame Youth Theatre Co and Long Beach Shakespeare Company, she is also a proud company member of Long Beach Shakes, having last played Ophelia in Hamlet, her 6th production with them. Rachel is a dance company member of the Rag Dolls, Cherry Poppins Caburlesque, and Artistic Director/Founder of her own dance company, Dolls 'n Dames, a 1940s burlesque troupe.

Getting To Know... Rachel

Tell us about a transformative educational experience.

The most life-changing educational experience for me was my Shakespeare Study-Abroad my last summer in college. What an incredible opportunity getting to see where Shakespeare lived and breathed, his school desk, his grave, his wife's cottage, his town! I studied with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the realms of stage combat, Elizabethan dance, movement, voice, diction, his plays, his sonnets, his life history. I also got to see the RSC perform several plays in repertory, then got to do the same in London with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. This experience was pivotal in shaping my professional career; it was then that I knew I was going to be a classical Shakespearean actor from then on. 


What about transformative professional experiences?

There are a handful of roles I believe every actor is destined to connect with. I've had 2 which really stand out to me in my acting career: Ophelia in Hamlet, and the lead in a short film I just shot, a boxer who moonlights as a dancer in order to cope and distract herself from her battle with cancer. Both women touched me in such a way that I honestly didn't know where they ended and I began. I could explore both of those women for the rest of my life. 


Why I do what I do...


...I can't imagine doing anything else with my life and being truly happy. I think the greatest gift in life is finding your passion and living it out fully every day. 


What about Elysium inspires you?

This company is unlike anything I've even seen or been a part of, and I've seen theatre all over the country and in Europe. Elysium represents visionary free thinking, honesty as an artist, truth, passion, ownership, and affects audiences in a unique way. I fell in love with Elysium my first audition here, as they created such a welcoming environment making me feel I truly belonged; they believed in what I had to say as an artist. Beautiful. 


My favorite "day-off" event would be...


...wine-tasting in Solvang, going on a boat ride in Malibu, picnicking to a classic film like Chinatown at Hollywood Forever, then curling up with a crossword


If I had one million dollars I would...

...build an Elizabethan theatre on a gorgeous vineyard, and create a year-round theatre company who performs repertory Shakespearean shows and who also hosts a "summer camp" experience for adults. Retreats, workshops, classes studying the works, history, and life of Shakespeare; it would be reliving my experience studying Shakespeare abroad in Stratford and London...but with wine!


Did you know...


...I'm a 1940s vintage burlesque dancer. After dancing with 2 other burlesque troupes in LA, I founded my own, Dolls 'n Dames, which tours throughout LA, performing in various lounges and private events. I've even danced for Leo DiCaprio...yes, he really is that stunning in person.

The Scrapbook

Stay Connected with... Rachel McVay