Elz Rachel (pronounced Ray-Shell) is an actress and comedian who is taking social media by storm with her hilarious real-life skits portraying families and relationships. I am always literally laughing out loud at her on point delivery of comedy and was very curious to know all about HerStory!
Elz is 27 years old and was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Brought up in a home with hard-working parents who have been married for 38 years, we begin our conversation with her describing her close bond with her family.
HerStory: So Elz tell us all about your family.
Elz: I have one older brother and two older sisters. My dad was a fireman and my mom was a real estate agent so we had a very stable upbringing.
HerStory: So you are the baby of the family, tell me how was this experience for you growing up.
Elz: Honestly, I don’t think I was spoiled, but I am sure if you ask my parents and my siblings they would definitely not agree.
HerStory: What kind of relationship do you have with your family?
Elz: My family and I are very close. We are at my parent’s house every weekend. I tutor my niece, so I’m at my brother’s house every day. My two sisters are my maid of honors for my upcoming wedding so we really don’t make a lot of moves without each other. I was actually trying to get them to go on my honeymoon. I want my entire family to be there with us because I don’t want to go out of the country without them but my fiance is not having it.
HerStory: Talk to me about the type of kid you were in school, were you popular or really shy?
Elz: I would say I was popular. I was a cheerleader and captain of the drill team. I would do the morning announcements at my school and a lot of public speaking. I wanted to be a part anything that would put me in front of a crowd. I remember every year we would have our homecomings at the Superdome, and I was always the one on the microphone. People knew me from everywhere. I have always wanted to be famous.
HerStory: Wow, so where do you think that confidence came from?
Elz: I really don’t know. I’ve always wanted to be the center of attention, all eyes on me. You know how most kids get nervous when adults ask them to do things, I was never like that. You could ask me at the age of 5 to perform Beyoncé in front of a thousand people and I would do it with no problem. It never fazed me.
HerStory: So do you think that being the baby of the family and having your parents and siblings empower you, made you feel like you could do anything?
Elz: Yes when it came to anything with my talent, but because I didn’t do well in school I felt a little defeated when it came to academics.
HerStory: So did you just not like it or did you struggle in certain subjects?
Elz: I think it was a little of both. I always felt less than my sisters and brothers when it came to education. All of them were straight-A students and always on Honor Roll but I would come home with my D’s and F’s. They eventually diagnosed me with ADHD because I couldn’t sit down and focus in the classroom. But, instead of putting me on medicine my parents decided they were going to channel that energy into the theatre and performing arts. I remember the nurses telling my mom that I needed to be on Adderall, and my mom said,”No what she needs is her ass whooped because if she can perform Beyoncé she can do this work.” So I was allowed to join NOCCA, a pre-professional arts training center for high school students, and it kinda took the edge off enough for me to concentrate and focus more. I always knew I was going somewhere so it ended up helping me a lot in school.
HerStory: So how are your grades now that you are attending college?
Elz: I actually graduate in May! I’ll be graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BA in Theater with a concentration in Performing Arts from Dillard University. No one would have ever expected that. People think that my career all started through Instagram but it’s simply not true. This is what I do and have always done. This was always my craft and I’ve had a passion for it for a while.
HerStory: That is amazing, and not only are you about to graduate college you are about to be married. Tell me a little about your fiance. How long have you guys been together?
Elz: We have been dating 8 years now. We started dating at the age of 19 and we have been together ever since.
HerStory: How does he feel about you pursuing your passions?
Elz: He is very supportive. I tell people all the time that there would be no Elz without Zelly. I remember leaving work two years ago and crying to my friend about how unhappy I was. I knew I was too talented to sit behind a desk and work a 9 to 5. It was not for me. I really wanted to go back to school, get my degree and really focus on Theatre. I knew I should have been acting, I knew I should have been doing more. So my friend suggested that I go home and talk to Zelly about it. We had just purchased our first home and a brand new car, so my thoughts were he is not going to agree with me quitting my job knowing we have all of these new responsibilities. But when I went home and talked to him he told me to quit my job, go back to school, and he was going to hold everything down—and that’s exactly what he did. He works so hard for us and he never complains, he told me to just do whatever I needed to do and he would be here to support me.
HerStory: When are sometimes in your life that you can remember things being hard for you as a woman?
Elz: When I was 19 years old and decided to move out of my parents home to get my own apartment. My parents were so against it, they did not want me to move out. I had just failed out of my first year of college, met this guy and 6 months later I’m trying to move in with him. My parents said they were not going to help me move out. They were doing everything they could to help and support me. But I thought I was grown. I was thinking I can do it, I’m in love but it turned out to be the hardest time of my life. He couldn’t support us financially so I had to quit school and go to work. At the same time, all of my friends were just living their best life in college. I remember seeing them on social media on campus and at frat parties and I felt so left out. I couldn’t talk to anyone. I knew if I went to my mom she would say I told you so. So I had to learn the hard way. But now when I look back I don’t regret the situation. It was a lesson learned. If I had to tell the past me anything I would tell myself you are not grown!
HerStory: What would you tell a young woman that’s going through the same thing?
Elz: I would tell any young lady that thinks she’s grown and knows what she’s doing, that she’s wrong. If you have somebody that cares and want to be there to support you let them, don’t allow yourself to go through the unnecessary struggle.
HerStory: Why do you think it’s so hard for women to have self-love?
Elz: I think that coming from the background that a lot of women have they were never taught it. It’s really hard to have something when you don’t know how to receive it. It was not taught at home and I think it really starts with the parent.
HerStory: How would you as a mentor or friend lead someone in the direction of self-love?
Elz: I would lead by example. I would tell them to follow in my footsteps and let me show you what love looks like. Action speaks louder than words, I can tell you I love you all the time but if my actions don’t match then it won’t make a difference.
HerStory: So tell me about some of the exciting things happening in your career right now.
Elz: I’m doing a lot of plays right now sometimes with Anthony Bean and other times with Dillard. I’m auditioning for a show that should begin in January.
HerStory: What are some things you plan to start working on after graduation?
Elz: I would like to open a Performing Arts summer camp. My goal for 2020 is to give back to the youth. I feel like the only African-American Theatre company we have here is Anthony Bean and it’s getting older and we need more of them. I think with my platform I could do really well because not only will I have the education but I have also gained more personal knowledge in my craft. Now I understand how to help and work with kids. I pray to hopefully pave the way for future actresses. I think there are only five African-American women that they always put in movies and there needs to be more. I wish I could be the next Tyler Perry and open doors and bring everybody along, it’s enough money for all of us. We can all eat.
HerStory: So Elz, have you prepared yourself for the phone call that is going to put you on the big screen?
Elz: Yes, I’m definitely ready for that.
HerStory: At the end of every interview, I always ask every woman to answer the same question. To help leave your impression on every reader, in hopes that they will be able to identify their purpose through yours, please answer the question Who Am I?
Elz: I would have to say that I’m just a young woman trying to make a way for myself and at times I really don’t know who I am. I’m still learning myself. .I’m just trying to make a way in this crazy thing called life.