Sunday, April 19, 2020

Up-and-Coming Actor Mychal-Bella Rayne in Talks with Nickelodeon for Possible Projects

Like many actors these days, 10-year-old Mychal-Bella Rayne is eager to get back to work.

In her case, the Winston-Salem native, who splits her time between North Carolina and Los Angeles, is waiting here for the pandemic to subside so she can finish her latest role, in The Underground Railroad, a series produced by Barry Jenkins and Brad Pitt being filmed in Savannah, Ga.

The drama, being produced for Amazon's streaming service, is based on a 2016 novel by Colson Whitehead. It is set in an alternate version of the 19th century in which the Underground Railroad is a literal network of secret routes and safe houses used to transport escaped slaves into free states and Canada.

Mychal-Bella (whose first name is pronounced like “Michael”) plays Grace, a character who was not in the original book but was created by Jenkins for this adaptation. Ereka Scales, Mychal-Bella’s mother and manager, told the Greensboro News and Record she can’t discuss the character in detail because of a non-disclosure agreement, “but I can tell you that she is pure empowerment!”

Mychal-Bella started modeling at age 2, first for an educational print campaign advocating literacy and then for other print campaigns. That led to a move to LA to pursue an acting career. She has appeared in commercials and TV shows, including Togetherness, Hidden Springs and The Haves and the Have Nots. She is currently in discussions with Nickelodeon about possible projects after The Underground Railroad.

She is also enthusiastic about philanthropy, saying her mother had prioritized the importance of giving back, and she advocates to help raise awareness of bullying, homelessness and conditions that affect kids, such as autism.

She was near the end of shooting The Underground Railroad when word came down that the production had to halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “No one got to say formal goodbyes,” Scales said, “only virtual hugs.”

But she said her daughter understands the gravity of the situation. “She says safety is first,” Scales said. “It’s a crazy time.”

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