At 2 years old, Lily Rains would sometimes sneak out of preschool and into the dance studio next door. One day, her frantic teachers found the budding ballerina practicing poses in the mirror. Her mother promptly enrolled her in dance classes.
“I always wanted to sing, dance and act,” says Lily, a self-described “working-class actor,” storyteller, producer and teacher who has appeared in commercials, TV shows, indie films, theater and web series. Along the way, she’s taught theater and improv at Crossroads and road-managed seven Crossroads Touring Company productions. She has also assistant-directed past Cabarets and co-directed Cabaret 2016.
Despite her eclectic resume, Lily wasn’t immediately focused on theater upon arriving at Crossroads in seventh grade. Although she auditioned for a few productions, she quickly discovered another passion—soccer—and “fell in love with it.” Lily played on the soccer team in seventh and eighth grade and again her junior and senior year (when she made varsity). Other Crossroads experiences, such as serving as student body president and participating in Life Skills classes, also had their impact. “Being asked to speak our truth every week, and hear the truth of others, helped me find my voice,” she says.
After graduation, Lily’s theatrical inclinations took center stage. She started at Smith College, then finished her theater degree at Loyola Marymount University. Following college, she moved to Chicago to work with the Tony Award-winning Victory Gardens Theatre as an assistant director. Over the past decade, she’s done 30 national commercials. She also starred in and co-produced an award-winning web series, “I’m Harry Clark,” and recently co-created and starred in “The Pooka,” a short film starting its festival circuit. Lily also scored guest spots on Showtime’s “Masters of Sex” and the Netflix remake of “One Day at a Time.”
Crossroads re-entered her life 15 years ago when she began working in the Environmental and Outdoor Education program. She was also a substitute physical education and theater teacher. “It’s a beautiful challenge to break down the steps of my process, or my curiosity about other people’s processes, to help someone else understand their own,” says Lily.
Her career is the “ultimate collaboration” between her two selves: the educator and the storyteller. It’s a partnership she hopes will enjoy a long run. Learn more at lilyrains.com