With a memorable role as the loveable Luna in Netflix’s Unstable, Rachel Marsh is another rising Fil-Am star to watch out for.
Quirky and loveable, but authentically herself, Luna is 1/3 of the comedic triumvirate of young and astounding characters introduced in Unstable. The new series by Netflix, starring the father and son duo of Rob Lowe and John Owen Lowe, spotlights a slew of new talents to watch – from the awkward and intense stylings of Aaron Branch as Malcolm, to Emma Ferreira’s honest and headstrong performance of Ruby. Enter, Rachel Marsh.
FINDING HER PLACE
This charming lass from Seattle is more than just meets the eye. Growing up with a host of many cultures – from her Filipino roots, Hawaii and its rich history and tradition, and her American surroundings; there was a struggle there for Marsh to assimilate into the different sides of herself. Her paternal grandparents hailed from Manila, but she herself grew up in the rainy city of Seattle. This exposed her to a hodge podge of different languages, from Tagalog to her dad’s Pigeon English. In this way, she claims her ties as “definitely a little bit split.”
With talents the likes of Jacob Batalon, Olivia Rodrigo, Dave Bautista, Manny Jacinto, Lea Salonga, and Josh Dela Cruz on the rise in American media, it’s almost impossible to remember a time when representation wasn’t so pervasive. However, championing diverse casts and telling cultural stories wasn’t always a thing. It’s something Marsh remembers very well, even as she started out her acting journey. But even deeper than that, she always felt this divide between herself and everyone else because of the fact that she is biracial.
“Growing up being mixed is interesting. Because I think, how the world perceives you is kind of like the traits that you take on yourself. A lot of people viewed me as someone who didn’t really quite fit into someone who’s totally white, or someone who’s totally Filipino. For a lot of my childhood especially, I tried to identify more as my white side. It was like a defense mechanism of fitting in or not, wanting to stand out as a kid. Whether that be through what I brought to school, like my lunches. Sometimes, I’d be embarrassed of bringing different Asian foods.”
That lack of knowing her place didn’t stop there. Marsh moved to California in pursuit of a sunnier state. She grew to make friends who would later introduce her to comedy and improv classes. Performing has always been something she was interested in, even back in high school. She did competitive cheerleading and was part of the theatre department. As a really shy kid, she loved the prospect of “being a totally different person on-stage”. When she moved to Los Angeles, she felt that missing aspect of her life: the performance. Through her friends and the classes, she found her comedic voice—and her voice in general—which started her on the path of becoming an actress.
But that was no easy task. She found it difficult even getting an agent within the industry because, according to her, “People don’t really know where to put you sometimes.” It was admittedly a challenge her whole life – trying to find exactly where she belongs. But ever the clever one, she saw this as an inherent privilege – being able to fit into different categories and wanting to choose that. As she sees the continual change in Hollywood, this need for representation and the celebration of Asian talent – she has also learned to accept herself and grow into a person she actually likes.
FILIPINO STAR ON THE RISE
Now, she’s starring as a series regular on Unstable, playing the smart, introverted Luna Castillo who not only steals Jackson Dragon’s heart but also the audience’s as well. It’s an arc all too familiar to Marsh; the development of Luna sees her in a state of stagnation, wanting to experience many different things she’s not bold enough to try. As the series moves forward, she braves the world and tests different waters, trying her best whilst remaining true to herself. Marsh collaborated with the writers and showrunners to help the character flourish on-screen. She added little details to Luna’s voice and how she moves.
“It was just so fun because our team was so willing to let me take a little bit of agency in that way and help build the character. I never had a character where I was in the whole season before. I’ve always had parts where I was in one or two episodes of the show. For Luna to be in every episode of the series was such a big responsibility and I knew that I had to create a full character.”
Beyond her current run in the series, Marsh continues to reconnect with her Filipino roots, remembering the memories associated with the little cultural things, like her dad’s adobo. While he’s still in Seattle, she has learned to make the dish for herself to cook in moments of craving. Sometimes, she visits her favorite L.A. restaurant, L.A. Rose. For dessert, especially this past Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, she goes to Wanderlust, a Filipino-owned ice cream shop with the signature flavor of ube.
Marsh also takes Tagalog classes to learn to speak the language, and dreams of one day shooting in the Philippines. More than that, she just wants to continue working and seeing the different places her career can take her – whether that’s to stay in comedy, or explore other genres.
“It’s a really exciting time in media, especially for Asian representation and actors. It seems like we’re not being confined into these boxes that we used to be before, and people are open to seeing us in different ways. I hope that whatever role I have next, I’m able to explore the nuances of being biracial or being half-Asian in a really fresh perspective, whatever that looks like.”
Photos by Nick Rassmussen
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