Meet Rachel Moss, Morristown-Beard’s future movie star

Scholarship winners Daniel Hounsell and Rachel Moss with Richard Eger, former president of Morris Arts. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Scholarship winners Daniel Hounsell and Rachel Moss with Richard Eger, former president of Morris Arts. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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She hasn’t topped the five-foot mark yet, but it doesn’t matter.

Rachel Moss has a very tall résumé.

The Morristown-Beard senior, who landed her first musical role at age 5, has a busy schedule of  commercials, TV- and film roles with the likes of Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Amanda Plummer, to drop just a few names.

Rachel’s out-sized talents were recognized earlier this month by Morris Arts,  which awarded her its $5,000 Elaine Ehlers Arts Scholarship.

Scholarship winners Daniel Hounsell and Rachel Moss with Richard Eger, former president of Morris Arts. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Scholarship winners Daniel Hounsell and Rachel Moss with Richard Eger, former president of Morris Arts. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Daniel Hounsel, a senior at Mountain Lakes High School with a promising future in graphic arts, received the $1,250 Eugenie Coladarci Scholarship.

Art patrons flocked to Novartis in East Hanover for the occasion, Celebrate the Arts, which marked the 40th anniversary of Morris Arts  (formerly the Arts Council of the Morris Area).

Honorees included people who were essential to the organization’s growth: Former executive directors Barbara Keefauver (who hatched the Arts Council with the Junior League) and Carolyn Ward; past board President Richard Eger; former board members David Clair and Bonnie Gardner; and present trustee John Weber, designer of the new Morris Arts logo.

The Lakeland Youth Symphony supplied the entertainment, underscoring the evening’s unspoken theme: Art bridges the old and new.

Which brings us back to Rachel.

Ms. Moss agreed to share some of her professional secrets with MG readers.  We’re grateful, because she easily could have wriggled out of it.

Harry Houdini was a relative, she explained.

Rising star Rachel Moss. Please click icon below for captions.

 

MorristownGreen.com: At what age did you start acting?  What was the production?

Rachel Moss: I started acting when I was five years old, at Worth Tyrrell Studios in a production of YOU’RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN! I started working professionally in “the business” at age nine. I started working on an Off-Broadway and traveling show called THE PEOPLE GARDEN. The company that produced it also ran their own management company, where I was signed, and from then on I started auditioning professionally in the City.

MG: What is it about drama that excites you?

Rachel Moss: Drama is almost like an escape for me. I am able to possess other identities, and be people other than myself while acting. Not many people are able to do this, and I think the concept of being another person is really cool!

MG: Your dream of a perfect career would be…?

Rachel Moss: In the future I just want to be happy! I do not see the point in working at a job, if you are not enjoying yourself. The best advice I ever received from someone is, “When it (acting) stops making you happy, stop doing it.”

As of right now I cannot see myself doing anything else but acting. I want to play characters in movies or plays that convey a strong message to the audience.

Whether people realize it or not, acting and other art forms give back to the world. I believe artists were put on earth in order to provide as escape from the troubles of society for themselves as well as audiences.

In general, the entertainment industry can really change how people think. With my craft, as an actor, I would like to do just that. I want work on plays and movies that have a strong theme and message. I want to make every performance of mine a lesson to not only audiences, but to myself.

Lastly even though I would love to perform in revivals of “the classics,” I think it would be pretty awesome to be able to perform in new plays where I would be able to create the character myself with the director and the creative team.

 

Drama is almost like an escape for me… I think the concept of being another person is really cool!–Rachel Moss

 

MG: Who are your acting idols?

Rachel Moss: One of my idols is Jennifer Lawrence. I loved how she portrayed her character in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Her acting was very believable, and I enjoyed her sarcastic tone throughout the movie.

I also really like Lady Gaga’s message she shares with her audiences and fans; that it is okay to just be yourself!

Lastly, I idolize my mentor, dance teacher, and friend, Jim Ruttman. Throughout my last 2 1/2 years of high school I was able to work with him more closely because I was able to assistant-teach his middle school tap class, and even be his assistant choreographer for both the upper school and middle school musicals.

I was fortunate to see what an impact he made on other kids and on myself through his kind words of wisdom and guidance. I would like to do just that, and leave an impression on young people when I am older and more experienced.

MG: Tell us some of the commercials and movies you have appeared in?   Who are some of the stars you have met…and what were they really like?

Rachel Moss: Since I have worked on numerous film and television sets many people ask me if I get “star struck” by some of the famous people I get to meet and work with; however I do not believe I get “overwhelmed” by their presence.

When I am working on a set, I have to stay professional no matter what. This is not only because it is a professional environment, but also because we are hired to work, not to “fool around.”

Some of the stars who I have worked with are Alec Baldwin (30 ROCK), Tina Fey (ADMISSION), The Pussy Cat Dolls (ONE LIFE TO LIVE), Nick Cannon (PEPSI commercial), The Coen Brothers (A SERIOUS MAN), David Chase (NOT FADE AWAY), and Amanda Plummer (SUMMER AND SMOKE).

When I worked for ONE LIFE TO LIVE, we moved studios to the same building where THE VIEW films their show. Because of this I was sometime able to meet stars like Miley Cyrus, working on THE VIEW, if I saw them in the hallway.

‘Celebrate the Arts’ by John Marelli Photography. Please click icon for captions.

MG: Lots of kids dream of becoming stars. How were you able to get signed, and land roles, in such a competitive business? 

Rachel Moss: I am sure when I was younger I wanted to be “a star,” but now I just want to be a working actor. If by chance I do become famous, there is nothing that I would be able to do about that; however that is not why I act.

I was able to get signed with my first manager when I was doing an Off-Broadway and traveling children’s show, THE PEOPLE GARDEN, at age nine. The production company also managed child actors.

After being in the show for a year (I was in it for a total of five years), the director of the show asked if I would be interested in going to auditions in New York. He then told me I should meet with one of their managers at this auditioning workshop they were having.

Rachel Moss and Nick Cannon, during a Pepsi commercial shoot. Photo courtesy of Rachel Moss
Rachel Moss and Nick Cannon, during a Pepsi commercial shoot. Photo courtesy of Rachel Moss

I attended the workshop, and at first, for some reason, I was really scared and shy. I really do not remember my thought process nine years ago, but I do recall not wanting to sing in front of everyone, when I was asked.

I then vaguely remember being asked by the director if I would sing in front of her privately in a different room. I agreed to that. I sang. And a few days later I received a call from a woman saying that after she heard me sing she wanted to be my manger, and sign me. I was thrilled!

My family and I did not know where it would lead me, but we all went along for the ride together! My first roles I booked were a bunch of NYU Tisch student films. It is funny, but still to this day I can sense when I am going to book or at least get a call back for a job. It is hard to explain, but I get this weird exciting feeling in my stomach.

I believe my first huge role was for PLAYHOUSE DISNEY. I did the voice of a little cartoon character named Wiffle in the mini-series, WIFFLE AND FUZZ. The audition was great, and I really connected with the director and everyone else in the room.

I cannot really tell you the formula for landing roles in such a competitive business. Some people say it is just luck. But you can never really tell what a casting director wants. For example, you can be a fantastic actor, but a lot of times it all comes down to looks.

‘Celebrate the Arts.’ Please click icon below for captions.

MG: Does all this acting leave any time for your other studies? Or for a boyfriend?

Rachel Moss: I’ve actually gotten asked this question multiple time, and I seriously do not know how to answer it. On top of acting and school, I also juggle a part time job at the South Street Creamery in Morristown. I believe that the busier I am, the less I procrastinate. It is easier said than done, but somehow I make it all work out!

Plus, as a minor, every six months I to get a children’s working permit signed by my school in order to continue working. This motivated me even more to maintain a high average in school.

Furthermore, I believe school is really important, especially for an actor. Acting mirrors real life, and actors are not going to just okay themselves, so they need other experiences in order to fully do their job and embrace other characters.

I am currently single; however when I was in relationships it was really hard. Normally I get very little notice for auditions, and I have to cancel my plans whenever my manager calls me. I would say one of the hardest things about acting, in general, is maintaining good friendships and relationships with people. Believe it or not, most do not understand if you have to cancel on them last minute.

MG: Even though you approach your craft professionally, you must have formed impressions about some of the stars you have met. Have any of them given you advice? Who advised what?  What was Miley Cyrus like up close? Alec Baldwin?  Amanda Plummer?

Rachel Moss: When I was working with Nick Cannon on a PEPSI commercial I was able to get really close to him and talked with him a lot. We were joking around a lot, but through all the fun and laughter he told me to just be yourself and that is the most important thing as an actor.

I met Miley Cyrus when she was working on THE VIEW in the hallway that ONE LIFE TO LIVE shares with them. I was sitting in the commons area looking into the hallway, with my friend and our moms, and all of a sudden Miley Cyrus appeared. We were all whispering pretty loudly whether or not we should say hi. We decided to just go for it.

Miley was standing with her mom and her sister waiting for the elevator. My friend and I walked up to her and started talking with her. She was really nice and asked if we wanted to take a picture with her. She is A LOT taller in person!

 

I believe artists were put on earth in order to provide as escape from the troubles of society for themselves as well as audiences.–Rachel Moss

When I worked on an episode of 30ROCK it was a really cold day after a blizzard, and of course, it was an outdoor, on-location, shoot. The scene took place outside of a preppy private school, at the end of winter. I was able to wear a hat, a scarf and gloves with boots, but I was not able to wear a warm jacket.

The assistant director warned me that was going to be really cold and advised me that I should take some Icy Hot packets outside with me and store them in my gloves, shoes and anywhere else. I did not think anything of it at first, but boy am I glad I took his advice. I was freezing.

Rachel Moss with actress Amanda Plummer. Photo courtesy of Rachel Moss
Rachel Moss with actress Amanda Plummer. Photo courtesy of Rachel Moss

Because it was so cold Alec Baldwin did not come out of his trailer until it was necessary. Unfortunately, I was not able to talk with him or spend much time with him because we all just wanted to be wrapped for the day and inside where it was warm.

However, I was able to speak with Chloe Moretz, who was a guest star in the show for that episode. We were just chilling and hanging out talking about school, and we even got to talking about one of our favorite places to eat in the city, called Shake Shack!

I worked with Amanda Plummer at Paper Mill Playhouse (PMP) when I was 11/12 in one of their main stage plays, SUMMER AND SMOKE. Since I was so young I had no clue who she actually was until my dad told me. Working with her for about seven weeks was really fun. To be honest, she is pretty wacky and weird, but that made her and the experience really enjoyable and memorable. To this day working at PMP was one of my favorite job experiences.

MG: Is there anyone you are dying to work with?  Who, and why?

Rachel Moss: I was dying to work with Tina Fey, but that dream came true this past summer; however, I would love to work with her again. She is hilarious and one of my favorite actors!

Working with Kristen Wigg would be amazing as well! I think she is hilarious and I love everything she does, especially when she was on SNL.

Dick Van Dyke would also be interesting to work with as well. In all the movies which he appeared, he just seems like such a genuine, sweet, and friendly person. I also believe he would have a lot of stories and advice to share with me, considering he has had so much experience in his lifetime thus far.

MG: Thanks, Rachel. Congratulations, and best of luck!

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