Rain Valdez Interview: ‘Razor Tongue’
“I started to feel angry at my own complacency… in letting micro aggressions and misogyny and discrimination happen to me,” notes Rain Valdez. She started to interrogate those feelings and turned them into the critically acclaimed web series “Razor Tongue.” Valdez serves as creator, writer and lead actress for the YouTube series. It’s her role as Belle, the quick witted central figure of the show, which earned Valdez an Emmy nomination for Short Form Actress. It is the first nomination of her career. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“I knew that Belle would be a challenge for me to play,” admits Valdez. The character was unlike anything the actress had tackled before. Belle is strong, quick to react, and unafraid to call out sexist, problematic behavior. Since Valdez also wrote the series, she used her own experiences as jumping off points for many scenes which made Belle feel “like a close friend” despite the gap between actress and character.
“What Belle represents for me… is the idea that we can say something in the moment,” explains Valdez. Indeed, Belle often ends up voicing what most people only wish they had said. She can verbally eviscerate a toxic blind date or incompetent employer with pinpoint accuracy. “She represents the voice within all of us,” says Valdez, “everyone has a razor tongue.”
The series is also noteworthy in that it focuses on a trans woman of color, yet the story isn’t squarely focused on the character being transgender. That was an intentional choice on Valdez’s part, since she finds that so many of the roles she auditions for are “centered on my transness.” Those roles are often written by cisgender people and the transgender characters are outed quickly. In “Razor Tongue,” Belle doesn’t identify herself as trans until the final episode. Valdez thinks that “allowing her the agency to be the one to disclose, and the one to come out, is showing a different kind of narrative.”
Emmy voters took note of this new narrative and Valdez is the first ever transgender Filipina actress to be nominated in the Short Form Actress category. She is determined to create stories, like “Razor Tongue” where queer and POC stories are told in an authentic way. The creator purposefully employed a cast and crew for the series which was 80% queer and POC. It wasn’t a hard task, since Valdez surrounds herself with artists from her own community. “I firmly believe that you move mountains with the people you love,” states Valdez. Bringing the story of Belle to life with the help of her community made the project “so much more special.”