It’s a typical Thursday for Reneé Rapp, with one minor caveat — it’s also the premiere day of
, Mindy Kaling’s HBO Max show about four 18-year-old freshmen roommates figuring out their bumpy journeys into adulthood. The Sex Lives of College Girls
Rapp stars as one of the core four, Leighton, a New York City rich girl and legacy student who arrives at Essex College with her own secret hardship: She’s a closeted lesbian. Rapp hails from a musical theatre background, having played Wendla in
Spring Awakening and Regina George in Mean Girls, and her role as Leighton marks the 21-year old’s first foray into television. And far as awkward and funny coming-of-age shows go, Rapp and her co-stars Pauline Chalamet, Amrit Kaur, Alyah Chanelle are in good hands with Kaling, who’s proven her chops in regards to understanding the nuances of the teenage psyche with her Netflix series Never Have I Ever. (The show’s producer Justin Noble also joined Kaling on The Sex Lives of College Girls as an executive producer)
“She is such a powerhouse, obviously, but truly is, in real life as well. I think she's probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life,” says Rapp of Kaling. “I think a lot of times, at least for me, I feel like whenever I would watch comedians or funny actors growing up, I’d always be, ‘Oh, they must be such goofs to be around!’ And of course she is that, but she’s also the most intelligent person. She’s just really, really fricking smart and cool.”
Below, Rapp answers the
NYLON 19, revealing her love for the southern fast-food staple Bojangles, potential encounters with Ghosts, and her status as a day-one Real Housewives fan 1. What’s your astrological sign (and do you believe in it)?
I am big into astrology. My best friend in the whole wide world, Justin, got me hooked on astrology, when I was in high school. I am a Capricorn, but I’m a Gemini rising and a Pisces moon. I’m always sad, but still trying to move through it. It makes me a Tasmanian devil, kinda.
2. Do you believe in ghosts, (and have you ever seen one)?
I think I do. I’ve never seen one. I really want to. I try to make it up sometimes. The other day, a door closed in my house, and I was, ‘Someone’s presence is here. I need to unpack this right now.’ Meanwhile, my house is just old, and there's a draft, so there was no presence. But yeah, I definitely believe in ghosts, but I don’t think I’ve had an encounter, to this point. But I do hope that somebody haunts the hell out of me. I think that would be nice. A little drama.
3. What’s your go-to drink order? (And if it's boozy, what’s your go-to hangover cure?)
I really only drink water and coffee. I’m not really a big juice person. I love tequila. Very Gemini rising. I love tequila. Yeah. I’m not really a big juice person. I used to be obsessed with orange juice, as a kid. I would drink it out of the carton. There were layers to that. But yeah, really water and coffee.
4. Who would be the three headliners of the music festival of your dreams?
Oh, my God. Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, Jazmine Sullivan.
5. What’s the weirdest snack you make?
My friends are always dogging me because I love snacks. I’m a big snack person. I think probably the weirdest thing... it’s not weird, but people are just always, “Hmm.” I went through a really long phase over lockdown where I would make a plate for lunch every single day with toasted pita chips, that I would just throw in the microwave, toast them, and break them up, then add cucumbers, cauliflower, celery, hummus, hot sauce, and salsa. And that was my lunch. It was just a bunch of different flavors. But I’m really big into dates now. And I’ve been doing the date, peanut butter, chocolate chip thing.
6. What’s a bad habit of yours that you’ve been meaning to fix?
Oh, everything that I do. Literally, so many things. Probably my worst habit is, when I get really stressed out, down to the wire, and I’m trying to find clothes or find something, literally anything, I throw everything everywhere, and I don’t pick it up because I’m in that anxious space, still. And so, it takes me until I come down from that, to clean everything up. I had somewhere to go the other day, and I had just cleaned my house, and I literally had sh*t everywhere. And so I picked up everything, and then I just threw it all back down, and then I didn’t pick it up for four days. I have to stop that because I’m constantly living in a mess.
7. What was the last internet rabbit hole you went down?
Well, last night, I went down an internet rabbit hole of Jack Harlow. I didn’t realize how many songs he was on that I love. I just never connected it with being him. And last night, literally, my friends and I were just listening to everything Jack Harlow and watching interviews with him. And I was, “Why is this young man so charming?” He’s this quirky, cute little guy. And I’m, “I love you.”
8. Describe your worst date in three words.
I haven’t really been on a lot of dates. It’s not that I’m not a dating person, but I graduated high school three years ago, and I have only had two partnerships since then. And they were just a friendship-partnership kind of thing. So I haven’t really dated, actually ever. I really haven’t been on a bad date. I don’t know, but I need to be taken on dates, is now what I’m realizing. Someone needs to step up. Multiple people need to step up.
9. What was the last DM you received?
The last DM I received was from my friend Jolani, who just watched the show. And he told me that he loved it. It was super sweet.
10. If you could be in any music video, what would it be?
I would love to be in anything by Dave Meyers. But also, I would love to be in just a film, at some point, if they were to ever redo it, of Lemonade. I think that was just so damn strong. I would be the bat that Beyoncé hits the car with. She could throw me at the car.
11. What is your favorite fast food place, and what’s your order?
Bojangles. My order is a four-piece chicken strip, biscuit on the side. And probably a side of coleslaw or mashed potatoes. It’s heaven. I cannot tell you how many times in high school my friends and I would be like, “We just need to leave, and we need to go get Bojangles.” And we did, more often than I care to admit.
12. What was your favorite movie as a kid?
For the longest time,
Grease was my favorite movie. But it was really because it was just a musical movie, and I love a good musical. I also used to watch all the James Bond movies with my mom. Actually, Austin Powers, too. I really had no restrictions of what I could watch. I was literally watching Real Housewives and Sex and the City, when I was a baby. So now it just is very fitting that I’m on the show. 13. What’s your favorite meme/internet joke and why?
Spidermen pointing at each other.
14. What is your best beauty tip or trick?
I like to put moisturizer with my concealer and blend it together and put it on my under eyes. It just makes my eyes look a little bit brighter, and it won’t dry out during the day as much. A thick moisturizer. I use the
belif one, just put a little bit together, put it under my eyes. I don’t really like to wear a lot of makeup day to day because I imply don’t have the skill, but yeah, that’s my only trick. That’s the only thing I can do. 15. What is your favorite red carpet look of all time worn by someone else?
Oh, Rihanna at the 2014 CFDA awards, with the Swarovski crystal dress and durag. It’s so good, so iconic.
16. What is one thing everyone should buy that is under $10?
This is a very kind of sh*tty answer, but a little pothos plant, if you can find just a little baby one. The ones that I have in my house were five bucks up at Lowe’s. They’re the easiest plants to take care of. I have so many in my house, and they just grow really nice. You can leave them alone for two weeks, and they’ll be half-dead. And you just water them a little bit, and they’re back. Low maintenance. They’re the only decor in my home.
17. What piece of clothing from high school do you wish you kept?
I had so many good sneakers in high school that I gave away. Skechers and sh*t. And I wish I would’ve kept them! But after I graduated, I was like, “OK, I’m going to grow into my New York, over-the-top phase.” And then I became even less of that than I already was.
18. What is your go-to sad song?
“Self Control” by Frank Ocean.
19. What reality show would you most like to appear on?
Any of the
Real Housewives. Actually, let’s get more specific. Beverly Hills, Atlanta, or New York. I’m in love with Kathy Hilton. I would let her sucker punch me. And just because I’m an OG Housewives fan, NeNe Leakes. Missing her on the show. And Bethenny Frankel. The skinny girl.