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The Craft’s Rachel True Gets Real About Racist Convention Bullshit

Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, Robin Tunney, and Rachel True in The Craft (1996)

One the weekend, actress Rachel True brought up in a Tweet (which turned into a quite informative thread) that conventions were booking her fellow The Craft costars Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, and Neve Campbell, but leaving her out.

In 1996, The Craft premiered and became a cult sensation that introduced a generation to witchcraft and queer subtext. I was introduced to the movie almost ten years later, when I was in high school and going through an intense Wicca phase, as all Catholic students are wont to. Among everything else, what I loved about The Craft was being able to see a Black witch as part of the bunch in Rachel True’s character, Rochelle Zimmerman.

Rochelle (and by extension, Rachel) is the only Black character in the movie, and her family is the only one that never appears in the film—according to True, they were cut. Rochelle is the victim of racist harassment by Laura Lizzie, played by Christine Taylor, who compares Rochelle’s hair texture to pubic hair and says right to Rochelle’s face that she doesn’t “like negroids.”

Despite not having a lot of screen time, The Craft didn’t try to ignore the racial context of Rochelle’s life, and that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, in real life, that hasn’t stopped Rachel True from having to deal with micro-aggressions and racism.

The entire thread is really poignant, and while there are some who will write True off as just complaining, the reality is that, even as a viewer, it is clear that her character has the most cut from her background (absent parents). By bringing this up, True is highlighting the way that POC characters get ignored in fandom, because they do.

Tokenism is one of the ways that media loves to cover its ass—presenting things as diverse, but failing to realize that true diversity comes from appreciating all the characters as equals. It doesn’t help when those characters are excluded from general events, or when events that do feature them still choose to highlight others.

I mean Rochelle is not a minor character. She’s on the poster, she’s a lead, and True has a very visible online presence. Why wouldn’t she have been reached at the same time as the other three women?

Part of the reason I was excited to watch The Craft was because of seeing Rochelle’s character. Up to then, I’d only really had Charmed as my witch representation, and while I am Team Prue and wearing a Charmed shirt as I type this, it also feels great to see yourself reflected in media that you watch. For other Black baby witches/proto-Pagans, Rochelle was a character that showed we belonged in that realm too.

What True is going through isn’t rare. This is what it’s like being a Black person in these spaces when your character is the “token” Black member of a white team, and the writers would rather use that as seasoning than as the meat of the story.

I’m glad that True is bringing this up, because as we celebrate Black Panther winning the SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture last night, it’s important to remember that it is the exception to the rule. There are plenty of Black actors and actresses who have to deal with the bullshit that goes on in fandom but are forced to stay quiet about it for the sake of propriety.

I’m disappointed that True has had to deal this, and hopefully, by highlighting it, it’ll make bookers more aware that when they are inviting the whole cast, they should extend the invite to the whole cast.

(image: Columbia Pictures)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.