Where Are They Now? with Rachel Billings


Olivia Cevasco, Columnist

As we near the end of the school year, it’s important to consider our passions and interests and how we can combine them to pursue careers that we truly enjoy. I recently interviewed Rachel Billings (‘18), a junior at Kenyon College, who is pursuing an exciting career in filmmaking. Rachel has a clear passion for storytelling and has enjoyed watching movies since she was little. While at Bronxville for the full thirteen years, she was always interested in creative writing and was a member of the Film Club, Habitat for Humanity, French Club, and the editor in chief of the Echo. She was also a crew member for many school plays, including her favorite, Les Misérables.  

At Kenyon, Rachel is majoring in English with a focus in Creative Writing and a minor in History. She initially thought that she “could just major in something like psychology and then take like English and Film classes for fun. And then I sort of sat down with myself and I was like ‘If you’re thinking that English and Film classes are fun, then that’s what you should be majoring in.’” Currently, Rachel is writing her own short screenplay about LGBTQ teenagers that she hopes to film this summer. “One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot,” she said, “is whether we’ve come to the point of having stereotypes within queer films, like LGBTQ films, because I know that it’s a relatively new genre… that’s not a bad thing by any means, but I think there is a lot more nuance with queer relationships.” Through her story, Rachel hopes to explore the nuances of LGBTQ relationships and challenge a stereotype that “a lot of times, there are very few gay characters in a high school that are actually out. And in films, they take the two people in a high school who happen to be gay and put them together… just because they have the same sexual orientation and no one else is out around them, that doesn’t automatically mean they are into each other.” Rachel’s film will surely provide a fresh perspective to counter assumptions about LGBTQ youth and the film industry’s portrayal of them. Her main character, a high schooler who is bisexual, “has this relationship with the only other gay kid who is out at the school but doesn’t actually like the other kid, so he sort of has to grapple with what he feels he should be doing based on his sexual orientation versus what he actually wants.” Rachel describes her film as a “fun, little quirky film where high schoolers are exploring those questions.” This film will certainly be thought-provoking and unique and ultimately increase the amount and quality of conversations about LGBTQ relationships in our Bronxville community and many others.. 

When I asked Rachel what advice she has for aspiring screenwriters, she said “Write something that you are passionate about. I feel like a lot of times, students feel this pressure to write stories that they think their teachers, their professors, or professionals in the industry are looking for rather than writing what they really want. And I will say it’s a lot easier to stick with a project if you are passionate about it. It’s a lot easier to write a project if you are passionate about it. And the story is always so much better if you are actually really interested and passionate about what you are writing about.” Certainly in writing and in life, we can fall into a trap if our stories are crafted just to please other people. Instead, we should write screenplays that we are passionate about since we will enjoy writing them and our audience will enjoy watching the films they become. Likewise, we should choose to attend colleges that we are passionate about rather than attending colleges based on a feeling of obligation. We should aim to pursue careers that are fun, careers that make us happy rather than careers that seem like an obvious choice. If we choose to pursue our passions, we can enjoy college, our careers, and everything in between to the point where they aren’t just school or work but rather something more fulfilling. 

In the future, Rachel hopes to work in the film and television industry as a screenwriter and director. We are grateful to her for sharing her time and advice with us and wish her the best of luck with her fun career pursuits!