Getting to work in ShondaLand with the wonderful Shonda Rhimes is an absolute honor, wouldn’t you agree? She undoubtedly has given us a reason to stay home all Thursday night to watch her three mega hit shows: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder. In 2016, she also brought us The Catch, and later this May, we can look forward to Still Star Crossed. While we wait to hit the DVR record button, we got to chat with one of the leading stars of this new show, Medalion Rahimi.
You may recognize Rahimi’s face in the latest film, Before I Fall, which is based on the 2010 novel by Lauren Oliver. Essentially, Before I Fall is the teenage version of Groundhog Day, but this time Bill Murray isn’t involved and there aren’t any comedic shenanigans. Rahimi portrays the character Elody—a fun, carefree teenager who is best friends with leading protagonist, Samantha Kingston (Zoey Deutch). We won’t spill any spoilers here, but if you haven’t checked out the movie yet, don’t you want to know how the cycle eventually ends? Until then, keep reading to get to know Rahimi a little better.
Cliché: I feel as if 2017 will be a huge year for you. For our readers who are just learning about you, how did you begin your career as an actress?
Medalion Rahimi: I’ve always been drawn to performing and the arts, but it wasn’t until high school that I really started to consider acting as a profession. We had an incredible drama teacher, and he encouraged us to pursue what made us happy. I got my BA from UCLA’s School of Theater, and I started auditioning for non-union projects that I found on online breakdown services. Eventually, I met a casting director on an audition who offered to set me up with an agent. The agent met with me and sent me out on an audition. She said that if I booked the job, she would take me on. And I booked it!
How did the role of Elody in Before I Fall come about for you?
I actually had originally auditioned for the role of Ally, played by the lovely Cynthy Wu. I sent in a self-tape while I was visiting Berlin. When I got back, I met with Ry (the director), and after a few minutes of just talking, she offered me the role of Elody.
What was it that drew you to this role? How different or similar are you to Elody?
I definitely see a lot of myself in her. She sort of acts as the hype man of the group as well as the mediator, and I feel I play those roles with my friends. Plus, we both love to dance! Elody is fun-loving; she’s unapologetic and she cares deeply for her friends. She has this incredible energy and sees the glass as half full. She comes from a broken home with an alcoholic mother, so having a rich backstory made this character more interesting to play.
Did you feel pressure bringing a well-known book to life knowing you have critics out there comparing the movie to the book?
Of course. I want to do right by the book fans, but I think the film brings something different to the story. We always made a conscious effort to stay as true to the book as possible.
Women are special. Women are survivors. We need to lift each other up, and we have to be there for each other.
I love how the main cast consists of primarily women, which is what we need more of. For girls in high school (or younger) watching this movie, what do you think would be a takeaway after watching the movie?
The film touches on so many relevant issues that I think will resonate a lot with our young adult audience. When it comes to bullying, it’s important to not be complacent because that can cause as much harm as engaging. I also hope that this film lets girls around the world know that they are not alone. Women are special. Women are survivors. We need to lift each other up, and we have to be there for each other. Although life can be tough and seem dim, there is so much magic and beauty to find in the world and in one another.
If you had to live a day over and over again, what would you want to happen in that day you’d have to repeat?
A picnic in the park or by the beach surrounded by my family and friends with yummy food, music, art supplies…and my dog, Yoda.
Congrats on your role in the new Shonda Rhimes show, Still Star Crossed. Can you tell us about your character?
I play Princess Isabella of Verona, Prince Escalus’s sister. She’s strong-willed, intelligent, and opinionated. Isabella plays the right-hand woman to her brother, although some may say she’s more fit to rule…
You’ve been in ShondaLand for a while since your appearance on The Catch. Now that you’re a series regular in Still Star Crossed, what is it like to work with the genius Shonda Rhimes? Were you familiar with her work beforehand?
Before my recurring role on The Catch, I was already watching some Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. Shonda Rhimes is a great producer, and it is truly an honor to work with such an inspiring woman.
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Medalion Rahimi Joins ShondaLand in ‘Still Star Crossed’. Photographed by Lionel Deluy