Reneé Rapp wants to burn out by 30 — and everything is going perfect: NPR

Renee Raab credits her career and fame to her legions of fans.

Erica Hernandez

Hide caption

Switch caption

Erica Hernandez

Renee Raab credits her career and fame to her legions of fans.

Erica Hernandez

Renee Raab has a plan: She’ll burn out by the age of 30.

The 23-year-old Broadway star, TV actor, and musician would never recommend this to anyone else, but this is her vision.

You might know about Rapp from TikTok, where she has over a million followers, or her time on Broadway, or the Jimmy Awards, a major high school theater competition. You might also know her from TV. But she says it was all in service of her true passion: a solo music career.

Raab wanted to build a following and credibility first – a built-in audience to catch the attention of agents and brands. It all came together last summer when she launched her long-awaited solo career with the single “Tattoos” and, following her debut EP, Everything for everyone. When tickets for her tour were posted, they sold out almost instantly.

People were paying attention, and her master plan was on schedule.


Act 1: The Musical Business

It was always about rap.

“Ever since I was born or, like, had an idea, I’ve kind of always known that being an artist and a musician and a songwriter is exactly what I want to do,” she told NPR. “And I was so determined to do whatever I had to do to get to this point.”

Rapp has always been on stage, performing at local music shows in her hometown of Huntersville, North Carolina. She didn’t like it, but she never turned down the opportunity to perform.

“I’ve always been associated with pop artists and pop music. And like, Beyoncé was more interesting to me than, like, Cheerfully we roll along. “

Raab used these opportunities as a starting point.

It’s all set: transferring to an art school midway through high school to compete at the Jimmy Awards; get you seen by agents; work on broadway get a job; And getting an offer to finally launch your solo music career. And it worked.

Rap performance at the 2018 Jimmy Awards


Rabe won the 2018 Jimmy Award for Best Performance by an Actress, for her role as Sandra Bloom big fish. The right people have taken notice, and in 2019 she starred as Regina George mean girls On Broadway, the show was even canceled due to the pandemic.

Chapter 2: Television

almost mean girls Wrapping it up, Rapp landed a role in the hit HBO series The sexual life of college studentswhich has just been renewed for a third season.

Rapp plays Leighton Murray, an icy, judgmental blonde who’s been in the closet for most of the first season. (Wonderful, icy, and blonde accurately described her Broadway character, Regina George.)

In ways that Rapp doesn’t like, you identify a lot with her character, Leighton, who has struggled to embrace her sexuality. Rapp is now openly bisexual, but feels that parts of her childhood limited her ability to get to that place.

For Rap, the goal has always been a solo music career.

Erica Hernandez

Hide caption

Switch caption

Erica Hernandez

For Rap, the goal has always been a solo music career.

Erica Hernandez

“I was hearing a lot of homophobic things, like very ignorant comments,” she said. “And I was also a perpetrator of those things. Like, I was so homophobic towards myself as a kid that I wouldn’t talk to anyone and I’d be kind of judgmental.”

“I did it…and so did Leighton.”

But examining these similarities also allowed Rapp to appreciate herself in a way she wouldn’t have done without the character’s challenge.

“The first season was the hardest six months of my life. It was very difficult emotionally for many reasons,” she said. “It made me go through a lot of things that I didn’t want to, but then had to. And so not only did I become, like, more comfortable with who I am, but I also saw a lot of…ugly parts of myself that I didn’t want.” In seeing it then I had to process it.”

Law 3: Fame and Fans

Rapp used to jump from musicals to television to music, and he was afraid she wouldn’t be taken seriously.

“It was a huge fear of me. But I think I’m a person who wears everything on my sleeve, like my feelings, how I feel, whatever, my personality,” she said. “So I guess I kind of hope to make it very difficult for people not to take me seriously, because I’m so aggressive and I’m totally delusional.”

Were it not for her penchant for illusion, Rapp might not be here. And at every stage of her plan, she made sure she had her eye on it. Rapp credits her music career with amassing a fan base before she gave up any music.

“I am so spoiled. I have been so lucky to have such an amazing community around me,” she said. “I feel like I’m the biggest fan of my fanbase…they’re so loyal. And I think we’ve found a lot of comfort in each other.”

She’s created a base, but after wearing so many hats in the past few years, her fans are still learning about it. TikTok comments from past videos are filled with comments like, “I didn’t know you were Leighton Murray!” or “I found out you won a Jimmy Award??”

“I feel like my multiverse is crazy,” said Rapp. “It’s a little bit like me, a little bit fun, a little bit crazy, a little bit baffled, a little bit sad, but it’s just so hot.”

When she teased the single “Tattoos” on TikTok last summer, her fans stormed out demanding the release of the full song.

Raab said it was the first song she felt was good enough to post on social media, but she never thought she’d actually release it into the world. That was until she saw the power of attraction she had gained. Then the labels started to get interested.

You have entered the final stage of the Rapp master plan.

“As soon as I got numbers online that were easy, you know, easy to digest for people in music, they were like, ‘Oh, people really want to listen to this. ‘” But what’s even more interesting is that for The first time was like, “Oh, people actually want to listen,” she said.

The relationship with her fans allowed the process of writing and releasing music to be more of a two-way street, and ultimately that’s what got her signed.

“I’ve been trying to get signed to a major company since I was 16, and every time I had meetings when I was a kid, it was always like, ‘Oh, we don’t really get you. ‘” We don’t “I really don’t feel like people care”. I definitely didn’t know myself very well at that point, so I don’t feel anything.” “I think those situations really made me stronger.”

“But that momentum in that video ended up getting me signed. So, like, my fans got me under contract. I attribute my career to them.”

Act 4: Rebirth

Rap music helped her redefine her image and sense of self.

With In the kitchen – Her most streamed song and also her favorite song she wrote – Raab explains about a very specific time in her life. It was about a painful breakup, but it ended up being so much more than that.


“That song to me feels like I like to peel off the skin that people know me from,” she said. “Because everyone knew me – [the people] Who knew me – from Broadway times, from a very specific relationship, in a very specific way I presented myself.”

“And a lot of it was about me trying to make myself smaller to make someone else feel good. And a lot of it was more like being a fun person. And it was about more attitudes than just that. But when I wrote In the kitchen, that was like, I’m done with it. I have had enough.”

Rap has already had a career to rival many female singers. With no plan to stop, she risks imploding. But that’s exactly the point.

“My plan is to burn out by 30,” she said. “In the sense that I want to go some ages…in a hot way.”

“I want a little bit of the rock star life, and then I want to, like, move to Colorado for a second, have kids, come back, and then take control and start directing and producing, but also do my music.”

“I just really want to be Beyoncé.”

Ashley Brown edited the audio interview. Patrick Wood edited this article.

Leave a Comment