MEET Gayle Rankin, hot off a run in HBO’s Perry Mason. SBJCT spoke with Gayle about our current collective reckoning, harnessing our vulnerability to affect change, her process and more. Read on below…

DRESS LBV EARRING Alighieri EAR CUFFS Jennifer Fisher

Erin Walsh Gayle, thank you so much for joining our SBJCT Collective! Let’s get started at the beginning. Can you tell me a bit about where you grew up and what was the journey that led you to Juilliard?

Gayle Rankin I’m so excited to be a part of it and to collaborate with amazing artists like you and Christian! I grew up in a suburb of Glasgow, Scotland. It was really rural and idyllic, but also close to the grit and artistry of the city. I was always a pretty uniquely curious child (I think that’s at the core of why I am an actor and artist). I had a really vivid imagination that had me schooling my Mum on how to best take care of my dolls when I went to nursery for the day (down to when they should sleep, and what she should feed them!). I was always intense. I asked my mum if I could take singing lessons when i was around 8 years old, and I got into acting from there. I joined a performing arts program for my last two years of high school; The Dance School of Scotland at Knightswood Secondary. From there, I auditioned for a few drama schools down in London and Juilliard in New York City. I ended up in NYC. I think its the best thing that’s ever happened to me.


EW Tell me a bit about the conservatory training experience, and living in New York City in this way. Around what time was this?

GR I had visited New York for my 16th birthday (a year or so before auditioning for Juilliard) and had fallen in love with the city. Juilliard was the most amazing, immersive and challenging time of my creative life. We started class at 8am in the morning and wouldn’t finish working until 11pm/12am at night. We would have movement classes, theatre history, clown class, Shakespeare, scene study, voice…all whilst rehearsing a play or a project at night. It was so stimulating. I was just about to turn 18 when I moved to New York. It was 2007, and the world was moving into a bright new era. The city and the theatre community were really vibrant, and I met my chosen family and closest collaborators whilst at school. I was a bit of a nerd, but I explored and tore up the city in my own way.

SUIT Chanel HAT Albertus RING Jennifer Fisher



EW Since you happen to be a TRAINED actor, I am very curious as to your process. Do you have a certain go-to list of physical and mental prep that helps you with each role? And how does it vary from role to role? I would imagine the prep for GLOW is quite different from Perry Mason…

GR The prep is different for each role. The one constant for me, and something that was really honed at Juilliard, is always going back to the text. Starting with the text or the source material and going back to it when, and I mean WHEN, you get lost! Because you most likely will. I usually find that a character will tell you how to build it. After really trying to get to know the text, I start historical/circumstantial research. After that, I see where my gut takes me. I love and have gotten to play a lot of psychologically complex people, but I never know how I will build that…. it could come from how someone holds his or her mouth when they speak, or a certain image or sensory memory I build, a painting, a sound…it’s always different.


EW Tell us about your role in Perry Mason, and the series in general.

GR Perry Mason is the reimagining and origin story of the character in Earl Stanley Gardeners books, and consequently, TV show in the 50’s. I play “Emily Dodson.” She is a young, devoutly Pentecostal mother living in Los Angeles In the 1930’s. Emily’s baby is tragically kidnapped and murdered at the beginning of our story. Perry Mason starts out as the detective investigating the horrific crime. The season follows the unraveling of this mystery as each of the characters get more intimately drawn into the case.

EW What do you love most about being an actor?

GR The ever futile attempt at understanding more about humanity. I can’t get enough of people. I’ll never stop being curious about them.

EW What do you like the least about being an actor?

GR That I willingly add more uncertainty to a very uncertain life! (But I love it and need it, really)

DRESS LBV EARRING Alighieri EAR CUFFS Jennifer Fisher


I can’t get enough of people.

DRESS Paris Georgia SHOES By Far SUNGLASSES Le Specs RING Jennifer Fisher
JACKET Nour Hammour RINGS Jennifer Fisher


EW It’s an interesting time in history and our world to have a platform. What do you feel is your social responsibility as an artist?

GR I feel that my social responsibility as a person (and an artist) is to educate myself, relentlessly, and to tell and expose more of the truth in the stories I tell. Most importantly, right now, I want to participate in all the ways I can during this time of reckoning in our world. We have to face and sit with our collective past and determine how we want to fight to change it and make progress!

EW What causes and charities are you most keen to support?

GR NAACP ACLU, Black lives Matter, A Beautiful Mind, George Gasòn For DA Of Los Angeles

These are just a few of the charities I have been supporting.

EW What do you think is the most vital way for actors to be of service?

GR Vulnerability. And to make conscious and educated decisions about how they want to use their voice. I think that starts with the stories we participate in telling.


EW How have you been keeping busy these days? I suppose we are technically post-quarantine, but the pace is definitely different, and I know your show is on hiatus. How are you spending your time?

GR I’ve been reading more than I ever have. Thinking. Journaling. I’m relearning how to drive. That freedom has been thrilling!  I was really afraid of it. I’m not as afraid anymore, and that’s huge for me. It’s grounded me. My friends that I live with in LA and I have adopted a kitten, communally. He’s perfect, his name is Peanut McGee, and we’re raising him. So…a lot of soul stuff. This time has helped me to slow down and be able to better meet the challenges of the moment. It’s an important time, and I’ve never needed/worked for ground more.



Therapy. I am a huge advocate of taking care of your mental health.



EW Any rituals you have found to be helpful during this time?

GR Therapy. I am a huge advocate of taking care of your mental health. I don’t think we can underestimate it. It’s a building block of everything we do and how our world functions. I also love walking the trail by our house.

EW Any MUST see film or TV (besides Perry Mason) we must indulge in?

GR I ate up The Last Dance docu series on ESPN.

EW What is your hope for one change in a post Covid landscape?

GR That we are all more engaged and aware of our life on this planet. More than we were before. Community.

EW What do you currently miss the most?

GR All my families. Blood and chosen. But I feel lucky that they are all safe and well. I don’t miss the lower half of my face – wear a mask, everyone!

SUIT Chanel HAT Albertus RING Jennifer Fisher