It was serendipity. My friend had just gone through a breakup, her boyfriend moved out and she needed sage to switch up the energy in their shared apartment. When you live in L.A., there's only one place to go for spiritual healing: House of Intuition, purveyor of all things metaphysical like crystals, candles and incense. Its most magical location is in a Craftsman home tucked away and up too many steps off Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park.
After seven minutes of shopping, the salespeople smelled my friend Nicole's post-breakup vulnerability. They suggested a tarot reading, which isn't cheap, but we did it anyway. Each of us paid $40 for 15-minute private readings. Little did we know that our tarot reader would be Rachel True, who played Rochelle in the '90s cult classic The Craft, a film about a supernatural group of teen girls who end up ruling the high school thanks to witchcraft (and, by the way, that movie is getting a reboot). True as my tarot reader blew my mind because, well, it doesn't get any more L.A. than that. But get this: She was way into magic before she got that role.
True says she has always been able to tap into people's energy. She told me this weeks after my reading when we met at a bar in Hollywood. “The [tarot] cards … help me articulate the situation; and then I use my intuition to kind of springboard off of that,” she says. “As a little kid, I felt living in New York City I was getting all of this energy and information, and it was too much, and it was kind of overwhelming.” So she shut it down — but not for long.
True moved to L.A. one month after the riots when she was cast in the Chris Rock movie CB4. Boyz n the Hood and Straight Out of Brooklyn had been released a year prior, but she didn't necessarily want to be in those movies. “We were just trying to get in movies that were not just one thing or just the other,” she says. True grew up in a Jewish family in New York's East Village. She says that had an effect on the roles she gravitated toward. “I wanted to show the town there are black people who articulated the way I did,” she says. “And it's simply a patois of where I grew up, not an indictment of my blackness.”
In the early '90s, she mostly landed appearances in TV shows like Beverly Hills, 90210 and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before the work died down. And that's when she embraced the esoteric world, she says: “Instead of kind of feeling sorry for myself or fighting against it, I just jumped into my tarot studies and kept notebooks and really got to know the cards, and the combinations and things like that.”
Talk about manifesting your ideal part. Soon after, she discovered the script for The Craft through her friend, actor Jordan Ladd, and she thought: “If anyone is going to be a little black witch in this town: It's me! It's me!” Not everyone thought that was the right move, she says. “There are quite a bit of other black actresses who came up to me and said I would never have played that because you know, the devil.”
The devil? She was just happy to get the part — even if it was playing the black best friend. Now, more than 20 years later, she mocks those roles: “Hey, I'm like the black best friend. Are you OK? Is everything OK with you, white girl, because there's like nothing going on with me and my family or anything, you will never meet my family. I am just here as a prop for you.” There were exceptions, like playing Dave Chappelle's love interest, Mary Jane, in Half Baked, which still resonates with stoners. “I can go anywhere in the world and get a joint … kind of a good skill,” she says.
If you scroll through True's Instagram today, you'll find posts about aging or health and beauty tips. You won't see anything about spiritual healing or her tarot readings at House of Intuition, where she's been working for a year. “I find that a lot of people have a misconception that there is something heavy or dark about it. And honestly it is just cards with archetypes on them,” she says. “The tricky thing that I think people miss is the cards aren't magic; what they do is they help you — they hopefully help you — lock into your own intuition.”
My reading with True was every piece of motherly advice I've ever gotten — and then some — wrapped up into 15 minutes. Surrounded by the smells of palo santo, sage and magic candles, True told me I like to play the victim (oops!) and that I should get better at practicing patience in achieving whatever I want out of life (coincidentally my friends call me “Patience” because I have none). She's perceptive. And in a tarot reading, she has free rein to tell you how it is. Yet she won't go full Rochelle on your ass. Her mantra is pragmatic and can be applied to anything, really: “Visualize it, create it and then work really hard toward that goal,” she says.
Oh, and what does she think about The Craft getting a reboot? She’s into it. But she thinks it would be even better with adult witches. “Imagine seeing Fairuza [Balk]’s character as an adult — fucking fascinating. But that’s also because I am my age.” Who knows. With her track record, if she keeps saying that out loud, she might just get her way.