Why Reneé Rapp 'Hated' Her First Year Working on 'Sex Lives of College Girls'

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Reneé Rapp's season 1 experience on The Sex Lives of College Girls was less than ideal. The 23-year-old actress appeared on the latest episode of the Spotify Original podcast Call Her Daddy, and revealed why she initially "hated" filming the HBO Max series.

Rapp's tough time on set came as she was questioning her own sexuality. The actress, who identifies as bisexual now, plays Leighton, who's a lesbian, on the series.

"For a really long time, I felt like I never officially had a coming out thing... I was just laughed at every time I tried to come out. I was just laughed at, so then I never really talked about it," Rapp explained. "... To be honest, I feel like my genuine like coming out to my family, close and extended, has been doing College Girls." 

"Now that part of me is on display in a very palatable way, which I think is also like, kind of f**ked up in a way that I'm like, 'Yeah, now I'm like on a TV show and I'm very publicly out and accepted as a bisexual woman, and on the show like as a gay woman and a lesbian woman,'" she added, before noting that, while "it's really cool for everybody" now, she "did not have that same support as a kid." 

Rapp's ongoing questions about her own sexuality "horribly" affected her self-worth while filming season 1 of the series.

"The first year doing College Girls was terrible. It was terrible," she said. "It sucked so bad, because at the time, I was in a heteronormative relationship. I hated going to work, because I was like, 'I don't think I'm like good enough to be here. I don't think I can be here. I don't think I can be doing this.' I was like, 'Maybe I'm just trying too hard.' And then I would come home and I would psych myself out, literally."

"I will never forget [how] I sat on my front porch, called one of my friends, and I was like, 'I am straight... I think I'm just straight. I can't do this. I can't do this.' And they were like, 'What the f**k is going on with you?' And I was like, 'I don't know. I don't know, but I can't.'" Rapp recalled. "I was just in a panic constantly. And I wasn't [straight], but I was so freaked out by the idea of my sexuality, not being finite or people laughing at me or me laughing at myself that I hated first year of filming."

Her negative on-set experience was especially disappointing for Rapp, because she had been "so excited" about the opportunity when she auditioned for the role.

"I remember getting that audition breakdown and being so excited, because I'd never been submitted to audition for a queer character. It was so exciting, and then doing the job, [it] being such a mindf**k was so scary," she said. "Also, I'm on a show [where] there are a lot of men around... There are a lot of gay men around. There are a lot of straight men around. There are a lot of older men around me on set. So I'm going through set, doing these scenes, and I'm also having gay men come up to me and be like, 'So are you, like, really gay?' I was like, 'Ugh!'... It really f**king pissed me off and it made me second guess everything about myself." 

As such, Rapp said she was "beating myself up so much" during the "crazy" experience.

"I wanted so badly to do a good job," she said. "... I wanted to play the role in the way that if I saw it as a kid it would feel good to me. I also wanted to do a good job so bad that I was so nervous all the time. It was so much the first season."

Even as things have improved on set, Rapp admitted that she's "always scared" people will compare her to her conservative-dressing Sex Lives character, sharing that she thinks about the prospect "constantly." She combats that by releasing her own music, seeing a person that makes her feel "really happy" and "very appreciated," and leaning on those close to her.

"I enjoy acting. I enjoy playing Leighton. I enjoy having that. I enjoy getting to be with [my co-star] Alyah [Chanelle Scott], who's my best friend, on set every single day... That is a God send," she said, before quipping, "I do have to wear those tweed sets, though."

The first two seasons of The Sex Lives of College Girls are now streaming on HBO Max.

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