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The creative polymath talks ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ and finding inspiration through tribulation.

A year to remember, for all the wrong reasons, 2020 has really forced the world to take a good long look at itself. And what better way to look at life than through the cinematic lens. Starring in new television drama, Love in the Time of Corona, is multi-faceted talent Rainey Qualley. Recognised for her roles in Eddie Alcazar’s PerfectOcean’s 8 and as *that* iconic model in Mad Men, the American actor is also known as Rainsford, the name which she creates music under. First dropping ‘Too Close’ back in 2016, Rainsford has since released a series of captivating tunes alongside her 2018 EP Emotional Support Animal,  earning her a cult following and a collaboration with Twin Shadow.

Now putting her acting hat back on as Elle in the culturally relevant limited series, Love in the Time of Corona sees Rainey Qualley in a role exploring love, sex and intimacy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starring alongside Tommy Dorfman, the whole series was produced and shot in LA during quarantine, using remote technology and shooting in the casts’ actual homes. A unique and utterly 2020 project, we catch up with Rainey to find out what it means to be creative in the time of Corona…

Do you remember the moment you knew you had to create some kind of art?

There wasn’t a specific moment that sticks out on my mind. I started taking ballet when I was two (which was mostly just controlled stumbling at that age I imagine?) and my parents put me in piano lessons when I was really young too. Plus, I’ve always loved to paint and was in choirs and school plays for as long as I can remember.

How do you blend your worlds of acting and music, or do you like to keep them separate?

I don’t concern myself with blending music and acting per-se. I love them both! When there is an opportunity for the two to collide, that’s great. But I’m equally as enthusiastic about them separately as well.

“It’s been inspiring to see how people have found new ways to create and share and connect with each other.”

What do you hope ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ will bring to people? What message would you like them to take away from it?

I hope people find some comfort from the show. And that it’s also something to enjoy and relate to, as well as, go through since it’s bizarre time in the world.

How did you find the process of shooting during quarantine? What did it teach you about your craft and yourself?

I was a bit apprehensive about the shooting process before we started because we were basically forging the way for how productions will be made in these new conditions. I knew we were going to have to take on many new roles besides just acting (doing our own hair and makeup, costumes, putting on our own mics, resetting props, getting directions remotely from a walkie talkie, and so on.) Plus, the start date kept getting pushed so I was nervous we might not shoot at all! But after the first day, all my worries were totally put at ease. Everything felt very safe, and we were actually able to move very quickly because we did so much ourselves.

Have you found the past few months to be a positive time to be creating? Is it cathartic and therapeutic? Or have you found it difficult to be creative?

The last few months have certainly been filled with highs and lows. I’m thankful for the time to connect more deeply with my friends. Normally we’re all so busy traveling for work, it’s rare for us to really spend quality time. We’ve gotten to go visit my brother in Montana a few times, and have had lots of game nights and new moon rituals. But of course it’s also been pretty scary at times. I’ve been worried work may never pick back up in the way that I was used to. Which is another reason I was so thankful for this show! I’m still sad that shows and concerts seem so far away, but it’s been a learning experience. It’s been inspiring to see how people have found new ways to create and share and connect with each other.

You have a large circle of creative friends and collaborators, how do you feel this has helped and influenced your work?

I feel so grateful for my friends and for their willingness to collaborate and lift each other up. My sister [Margaret Qualley] is my best friend in the whole world and we live together. She inspires me every single day.

Where else do you draw influence from? Who are your biggest musical inspirations? What about cinematic ones?

I love all kind of music – Prince, Kate Bush, Minimal Man, Yellow Magic Orchestra, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Cabaret Voltaire, lykke Li, tei Shi, Blood Orange, Jim-e stack, Justin Bieber, Toro y Moi… I could go on and on. Some directors whose work I love include David Lynch, Tim Burton and Sofia Coppola.

Do you feel pressure to be part of projects that are sociopolitically meaningful?

I don’t really think of things in those terms really. I just want to create music and be involved in projects that I love.

What have you been most proud of being a part of in your career so far?

I’m really excited about one of my next single is titled ‘love me like you hate me’. It’s one of my favourite songs I’ve ever written. I’m also very excited to see a movie I shot last summer called The Goddamn Daylong Brothers, which I haven’t seen anything from yet but I have a good feeling about it.

What’s next for you?

I have a single coming out soon titled “Oh My God” that I just finished shooting a video for. I think it’s gonna be siiiick!!! 🙂

Watch the trailer for Love in the Time of Corona below and catch the series on Hulu.

Words by Kitty Robson / main image by Claudio Capri

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