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Rayanne: The Delicate Dance Between Actor and Character

In which 'Self-Esteem' reveals an interesting exchange between the two.

I think there's a widespread belief that actors are merely empty vessels who bring characters to life simply by reciting the lines placed in front of them. While this may be how many actors start out in the craft, the good ones quickly learn to blend their own life experiences with those of the characters they portray. And if they're fortunate enough to have a writer like Winnie Holzman behind them, the fusion of these two minds becomes something extraordinary.

In "Self-Esteem" (ep. 12), after Angela tells Rayanne that Jordan wants to keep their relationship secret, her friend bristles:


Rayanne : Angela, you are letting Jordan Catalano like control you.

Angela : What? Who say's he's controlling me? I can't believe
this. For like months you've been trying to convince me to do all
these things I'd never dream of doing and now that I'm actually doing
them, you're -- I mean, haven't you made out with guys in the boiler
room like, hundreds of times?

Rayanne : So?

Angela : So, are THEY controlling you?

Rayanne : No, because I am not you. Because as I have stated a
hundred times, I don't get my emotions involved. I am the
type of person who can handle the boiler room. You…are not.

In just a few words Rayanne reminds us just how messed up she is emotionally, and yet how protective she’s become of Angela.

Realizing her own life is a mess, and that it might well be too late for her to do anything to fix it, she can still keep Angela from going down that same emotion-deadening path.

Angela reminding her that she’s pushed her friend into doing things she never would’ve done doubtless touches a nerve, too. From her dyed red hair to her “grunge” outfits, we’ve watched Angela become more and more like her best friend; Rayanne must be aware of this, too. Perhaps with that realization comes a sense of responsibility.

“I related to the difficulty in navigating relationships; inadvertently screwing up while struggling to be authentic when you’re only just learning who you really are,” admits AJ Langer. “I think Rayanne and I were both pushing down pain, covering up. When uncovering [Rayanne’s pain], mine got stuck to it and they came out together.”

Referring to her lifelong battle with fibromyalgia, she adds, “I had been hiding confusing physical pain throughout my teenage years and it messed with my sense of self. I was socially awkward in some ways despite a natural confidence. My ‘human vulnerability’ was raw material that Winnie made good use of.”

So Beautiful it Hurts: The Making of My So-Called Life’ is neither endorsed by nor affiliated with ABC, The Bedford Falls Co., nor anyone involved with the making or distribution of “My So-Called Life.”




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