Humans of Baldwin: Our Very Own Broadway Star – Rachel Gopalani ‘23

Gopalani describes the adversity and accomplishments that have accompanied her passion for theater


Photo courtesy of Sophia Ran ‘23

Rachel Gopalani ‘23 poses for the camera.

With an angelic voice and a toolbox full of talent, it’s no wonder that Rachel Gopalani ‘23 has secured the starring role in show after show. Although pursuing her love for the arts and crafting herself a theatrical path has not always been easy, Gopalani has worked hard to achieve her goals as a performer, and learned a thing or two along the way. From a Bollywood-inspired dream to overcoming challenging auditions, Gopalani speaks on her journey through the world of theater.  


How did you first get involved in theater? Was there anyone who influenced your involvement?

I started getting involved in theater because I would always watch Bollywood movies at home and loved how there was both singing and acting. I saw those qualities reflected in the kind of production that I wanted to do. I actually had the opportunity to play the part of Belle in Beauty and the Beast at my camp and I just seized the opportunity. So ever since first getting that part, I’ve been doing theater regularly.


What part of theater draws you in the most?  

Theater sparks innovation and collaboration. Even a one-person play needs an audience so collaboration is inevitable. That’s the beauty of theater. It’s a big tool for empathy and that’s important when building a community. 


Do you have a favorite play or musical you’ve been a part of?

I have to go with Mamma Mia. I was recently in it and it was just such a fun show. I loved the entire cast. The best part was that the production seemed like the perfect senior show.


Have there been any challenges throughout your theater career? If so, what were they?

My biggest challenge is getting typecast because of factors like my race or my gender. Being stereotyped happens a lot more than you would expect. At times, casting directors will consider you solely based on what they first see. For example, I was part of an Aladdin production when I was in middle school. When the directors or some of the other production staff looked at me during my audition, I would hear, “Oh, she’d be a great fit for so-and-so part because she looks Arabian.” 


Do you have any takeaways from your experience with performing in front of large audiences? 

When performing in front of large audiences, the first thing you need to do is trust yourself. If you don’t, then you risk relying on the audience more than your own skills. If that’s the case in a performance, you might break character or slip up because the only thing that’s telling you whether or not you’re doing okay is what other people think. 


As someone with a lead role in multiple productions, including Baldwin’s and Haverford’s, how do you find the time to balance school and theater?  

Finding balance is really hard to do. However, I manage by getting extensions when necessary and communicating with teachers. Communication is the biggest part of having a successful relationship with school and extracurriculars in general, especially if that activity requires you to be at rehearsals hours at a time for multiple weeks. 


Is there any advice you would give to someone who is interested in participating in theater or just starting out? 

My advice is go big or go home. Theater is about putting yourself out there for a stage to receive and react to you. You can’t do that if you’re afraid or if you constantly feel like you’re going to close up to other [people]. Put your best foot forward because you never know what might happen.