Rayven Ferrell is building a name for herself as a prolific young actress who is now taking on the role of Tupac’s sister Sekyiwa in the highly anticipated All Eyez On Me. The Atlanta by way of Ohio transplant took the challenge with the confidence of living out her own truth and finding the similarities in Shakur’s life. It is her biggest job thus far especially considering the fact that Tupac fans are some of the most particular about the posthumous presentation of the icon and anyone connected to him. As a newer face, she has already appeared on Greenleaf and Lee Daniel’s girl group drama Star. But it is the role of Sekyiwa Shakur that is poised to take her work to her biggest audience yet.
“I feel like Tupac was a perfect example of that just being that voice for minorities, for Blacks for people in poverty for everybody”
How did you become an actress?
I attended performance arts schools all my life since I was eight until I graduated. I kind of had a few concentrations I had ballet, I had acting and I had creative writing and I had violin. Then as I got older I had to narrow it down at first to two and then it was one because it was so time-consuming and I ended up picking acting.
I saw where your mom named you after Raven-Symoné, was she an inspiration for you or did you have others?
As a kid it was definitely Raven-Symoné I used to love her show That’s So Raven on the Disney channel but then as I got older it became Viola Davis. That’s definitely my inspiration right now.
How did you get cast as Tupac’s sister in All Eyez On Me?
I did the audition as I would any other project the only thing with that one was it took a longer process. I auditioned for it and then like a month later I got called back for it but the thing was before I got called back I had a dream about it. I had a dream that I booked it so when I actually got called back I felt like I had it because I connected with the role so well. It was a really good affirmation I just felt it. And then another few weeks went by and I found out that I got casted the night before we had to shoot the first day.
Did you know much about Tupac before filming the movie?
Before filming the movie I was fan of Tupac’s music, movies Poetic Justice is one of the movies I learned like the back of my hand like word for word. I could probably say every line of that movie. I was a fan of Tupac’s art but after filming the movie I became a fan of who he was because I learned so much about him just the way that he worked and his mindset his goals and the things that he went through. So he became an inspiration as a person
How were you able to identify with his sister?
We had the same similarities in our childhood as far as living in poverty living in a single-parent home. I had my mom but you know she worked a lot so a lot of times it was just me and my siblings so I know the importance of the sibling bond. And how important it was to depend on each other. A lot of those situations I was able to put myself in. Like she was more to herself but when she was with her family she was more of how she actually is as a person. I’m more of an introvert when I’m around people but when I’m with my family I’m a completely different person. And her esteem issues. You know how it is when you’re growing people pick on you because you don’t have this or that middle school kids are cruel they really are so those things made you have low self-esteem because you feel like you aren’t up there like everybody else.
Did you meet her or speak with her?
I have not yet. I had a lot of research with interviews I learned a lot from LT the executive producer as well as the coach Angelo who was on the set. You know grabbing all that information together I got a sense of who she was as well as just reading the script.
What was the whole experience like? What was it like working with Demetrius Shipp Jr.?
It was a huge huge blessing. Everyday I was on the set I was like ‘I’m on the set of All Eyez On Me. Still to this day when I see myself on screen I’m like what how is this even happening? I’m super grateful for it. As far as Demetrius he’s like a big brother to me now in real life. He’s super super humble and super helpful. He’s that person when you have a conversation with Demetrius he will have you thinking. You can have a five-minute conversation with him and he’ll have you thinking. He’s just one of those people who drops knowledge I’m glad he was one the chosen to play Tupac because I feel like he’s going to use it in a really really good way.
Has your perspective of Tupac changed at all after making the movie?
It hasn’t changed but it’s enhanced. I feel like Tupac knew e had he realized his purpose at an early age you have to think about he was on earth for 25 years. I’m 21 years old he was four years away from me when he got killed and I’m just thinking about the platform he created. He had to know at an early age ‘Ok, this is what I was put on this earth for so I have to accomplish this’ and knowing that he had this talent gave attention to him from the people. He used that platform to go ahead like ‘This is how I’m going to do it.’ And you had all those times he got ridiculed times he got into trouble with the law people judging him he didn’t care. At the end of the day, he had to make this happen. And that’s how I feel about my life goals. At the end of the day, you can only control what you can control and I feel like Tupac was a perfect example of that just being that voice for minorities, for Blacks for people in poverty for everybody.
Stepping away from the movie I have to ask you about your experiences working on Greenleaf and Star.
Yeah, I was actually on my way back from L.A. when I got the audition a lot was going on and I had the audition and kind of forgot about it. So when my agent called me like a few weeks later he was like ‘Clear your schedule tomorrow because you’re on set.’ But that experience was crazy because I was on the second episode of the premiere I don’t know if you remember the scene at the lunch table where we’re talking about the party that happened the night before we were making beads and drawing. They put us in a room I played Nora and Sophia’s friend. They put us in a room like an hour before the shoot so we could bond together and literally within five minutes you would’ve thought we were friends for years. It was a super good experience and part of that scene was improv. We were talking and getting set-up and they were like ‘No, no we like that do it over again.’ A lot of that was really natural.
How was Star?
I’m a huge huge fan of Lee Daniels so I kind of fangirled a little bit. He was like ‘Hi my name is Lee Daniels.’ That was a huge blessing because I feel like he created a lot of diversity when it comes to television to this day I feel like he started that path. And I am super grateful for him for that just for us as people because none of us are the same. But working with Brittany O’Grady and the girl who played my younger sister her name is Darielle Stewart she was a character. She made the entire shoot super super fun. She had a swear jar so anytime anyone would cuss she would say you had to put a dollar in it. She got everyone on set then she got Lee Daniels and she was like ‘Wait, you owe me a dollar ‘ so she wouldn’t do her second take until he gave her a dollar. He was like, ‘You know what? I’ll give you $100 for anytime I cuss.’ He said a few words and she ended up walking out with $700. That little girl is a hustler. We had a really good time. I played Brittany O’Grady’s foster sister.
What’s your vision for your career?
Yes, I’m super-blessed As of right now I’m in the middle of a few things and I haven’t officially gotten it yet I’m just trying to work on being as diverse as possible As actors, we get character-typed a lot. I’m 21 I go in for 13 and 17-year old daughter and sister all the time. I want to be known for doing this kind of role and that too. My current goal is to get series regular on a television show. Television is more of my goal now.
Why are more interested in television now?
I’m a binge watcher I love the consistency of it. I feel like television is more of a reality because things happen and once things go good something else happens then something else happens.
What do you want to see people get from All Eyez On Me?
I hope people can gather who Tupac was and who he needed to be, I hope more people see Tupac as view him and judge him from his personality versus what people saw him as.
All Eyez On Me is in theaters now.