Reneé Rapp is ready to take over Hollywood.
In November, the 21-year-old made her TV debut as Leighton Murray in Mindy Kaling's HBO Max series "The Sex Lives of College Girls," in which she plays a queer student who is starting to come to terms with her sexuality. Rapp, who identifies as queer, told TODAY that she was overjoyed to be considered for the role, especially since she gets to play such a complex character.
"I was so excited," Rapp said. "I had never gotten, like, a breakdown for a queer character before and being a queer person myself, I was over the moon excited just to audition."
"It meant a lot to me," she added.
Another thing that drew Rapp to the sexually empowering series was the "in-your-face" title, which sparked an interesting discussion on social media.
"I love that kind of s---," Rapp said. "So I was so game all around. And obviously, Mindy Kaling's a f---ing icon, so it was like a perfect scenario with a bow on top. And I feel very, very, very lucky to have been afforded the opportunity."
In the show, Rapp plays Leighton, a prep school-educated kid who comes from a wealthy family, but is struggling to accept her sexual identity.
"Mindy Kaling's a f--king icon, so it was like a perfect scenario with a bow on top."
"She's such a mess," Rapp said about Leighton, who tries to act like she has everything under control.
Unlike the other girls in the show, Rapp knew that her fans would despise Leighton, especially since she reminded them of North Shore High School's queen bee Regina George, whom she played on Broadway in 2019.
"She's got such chaos around her, yet I think she wants to act like she’s so grounded, and secure, and so knowledgeable and she truly is not,” Rapp said.
However, the "Broadway Whodunit: Murder at Montgomery Manor" star said she tries not to be so hard on her bossy, but yet fun-loving counterpart, because there's a reason why Leighton is so guarded.
"You see her trying. I think the thing that sucks is that she kind of self sabotages a lot and I think that comes at other people's expenses, which is really shady. But you start to see her cracks and crevices, which I think is really beneficial as a viewer to see that she's got a little human in her. It's just a matter of if she's willing to make the decision to be a good human," Rapp said.
As fans wait to see how Leighton's journey unfolds in season two of "The Sex Lives of College Girls," which still hasn't been given a release date, Rapp continues to take her career one step at a time. She's already worked with the "awesome" and "cool" Kaling, whom she describes as a "boss bitch" who "has her s--- together" and said she hopes to one day mix acting with something she loves even more — music.
"I mean, hopefully, I will have, like, acting coupled with a music career and they'll both serve each other and go hand in hand," the "World Burn" singer said. But until then, Rapp plans to tackle more TV roles and possibly do a movie one day.
"Hopefully, everything I will do," she raved.
As for "The Sex Lives of College Girls," Rapp plans to see it through to the end. She adores that the show is empowering for women who sometimes find themselves lost in the male gaze. She wants them to know that it's OK for them to ignore gender norms and explore their sexualities.
"I think it's important because I think it leads to a greater conversation about, like, OK, sex is choice," she said. "What does sex mean to you? What do you not want it to mean to you? And how does that evolve as you grow, get older, or are on your own for the first time and you're making your own decisions? And although I think it's nice to see it done in such a messy and kind of like s---y way sometimes, because we make a lot of mistakes ... it just leads to a broader conversation about so many little intricacies."