Credit: Rick Eberle

Maybe I’m a little biased, but Long Island has produced some pretty amazing talent in the history of the world of entertainment.  Everyone from LL Cool J, Billy Joel and Mariah Carey were born and raised in the island of long, and as time goes by we find there are new stars to pluck out of obscurity and turn into the next big thing.  Singer and actress Raffaela, who hales from Smithtown, could just be that with a new movie that is sure to be huge as well as a budding singing career that will have her one worded name on everyone’s lips.

Raffaela’s 2017 is going to end on a pretty high note, as she landed a role in the new movie “Reach”, with Garrett Clayton (Disney’s Beach Movie, Hairspray Live!) and Joey Bragg (Liv and Maddie), which deals with the heavy and ever so present topic on teen suicide.  Outside of her acting career, Rafaella has also been doing extremely well on the music scene, with her hit song “So What” being a finalist for Best Music Video at the International Family Film Festival as well as winning Best Song in a Music Video at the Hollywood & Vine Film Festival, and was a select entry at the the Dances With Films Festival, and Rahway International Film Festival.  Pretty impressive indeed.

With all that is going in her career, Raffaela sat down with us at Manhattan Digest to discuss this all, including her favorite celebrity she has met so far, the meaning behind the movie “Reach”, and thoughts on her hopeful future.

You evenly split your career with acting and singing, and do a great job in both.  If you had to choose one or the other, which would you pick and why? 

Acting.  As an actress, you incorporate many skills and resources from your physical and emotional “toolbelt”.  My singing is one of those tools. It’s just another way to express my truth. I woukd say acting!

Who has been your favorite celebrity you have met so far, and why? 

Mindy Kahling!  She was shooting her show “The Mindy Project” next door to where I lived. And she was just so gracious and beautiful and I was able to snag a picture with her.

I love your song “Hurricane”, what has been the reaction from fans?

I think they loved it.  I hoped they did.  My family right now seem to be my biggest fans.  And they are all just really proud.  I just feel grateful for all the support.

Credit: Rick Eberle

Now you are doing a movie called “Reach”.  Can you tell our readers a little bit more about it?

“Reach” is an anti-bully anti suicide film. It touches upon issues facing the high school population: however, this high school is a small performing arts school with a graduating class of maybe six kids.  The school is as eccentric and unique as one of the three main characters, Clarence West played by one of the co-writers Johnny James Fiore. Clarence befriends high school senior Steven Turano played by Garrett Clayton (Teen Beach Movie, Hairspray Live) who we first meet as a struggling, depressed and lonely kid who is bullied by his former childhood friend Nick Perkins played by Jordan Doww (Teen Choice Award Winner 2016 and Nominee 2017).  The film shows how the power of one small gesture can change one’s life forever.

The movie deals with the harsh realities of bullying and how it can unfortunately lead to suicide for many.  Are you happy with how the movie tackles this issue and what did you learn in the process of making it? 

Yea.  Really happy. The film is in post-production and will have an eclectic mix of songs. We are fortunate to have an amazing award-winning sound designer Jeffery Alan Jones and the youngest music composer to score a feature, Rio Mangini (Nickelodeon/Bella and The Bull Dogs, Netflix’s Everything Sucks).  As an actor, I enjoyed being part of such a strong ensemble cast. My role as Kimberly Hill is there to support the storyline of the male leads.  The biggest lesson learned is that suicide is final. But one small gesture can save a life. A smile, a hello, a simple “how are you” makes a difference. Don’t be the bystander.

What other things do you have in stores?  

” I Love Me” will be released as a single by the fall. And “Reach” should be out by then as well!

What are you ultimately looking forward to in your career

Working! Working and working.

For more information on Raffaela, please check out her official website.