Whether you like a lot of music in your movies, movies that just have a lot of music in them, or think Jack Black is funny, you’ve seen the movie School of Rock. If you have, actor Rivkah Reyes (they/them) just might be familiar. They played the cello player who took to bass in an instant, Katie. But, are they still rocking out? Let’s find out.
In the windy city of Chicago, Illinois, on August 18th, 1992, born Rebecca Julia Brown, Rivkah Reyes made their first debut in the world. Rivkah’s life only got busier from there.
Their mom had them taking guitar lessons by age four, and by fourth grade, Reyes made their first appearance on screen on NPR’s From the Top.
School of Rock
If you take out the whole being in a major movie before they were in junior high thing, Reyes was a regular school kid, going on to high school and then college. But before Reyes got to high school, they were in 2003s School of Rock alongside Jack Black.
Reyes played the cellist-turned-bass-player Katie, initially landing the role thanks to that spot on From the Top.
The casting director reached out to their guitar teacher to get them to audition after noticing their talent.
After losing out on one role to Miranda Cosgrove (of eventual iCarly fame), a special character was written just for Reyes, and the rest is rock history.
Dealing with bullying
Unfortunately, once Reyes went back to school with their peers after the movie wrapped, bullying became an extreme problem. Rather than be excited they had a classmate in a hit movie, Rivkah was subjected to teasing and harassment.
In an even darker place, grown men were commenting on their appearance (at age 10!) on message boards all over the internet. Without the support of classmates or the school administration, the harassment at school continued, even after Reyes was transferred to new school after new school.
The constant pressure to secure a new role to make the one of Katie go away and the continuing toxicity of the outside world made Reyes turn to alcohol, drugs, and other harmful ways to cope.
This led to a long journey of healing and therapy to get to a better place mentally. They now embrace being recognized for a role that initially brought so much pain.
Because of the scrutiny and abuse after shooting School of Rock, Rivkah stayed off the screen and continued with schooling instead.
Reyes finished high school in 2010 and did the normal college thing, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2014 from the University of Chicago.
What is Rivkah Reyes doing now?
After college, the shine of the screen brought them back to acting. Rivkah appeared in the short Cool Nerds in 2014 and a quick guest spot on the show Easy in 2017 to ease back into things.
By 2020, Reyes was full speed ahead, appearing in six projects between 2020 and 2021. Rivkah currently has one project in post and is filming the movie A Holiday I Do right now.
But wait – why the name change? Most actors change their name before they become famous, mostly because their given name just doesn’t scream “A-list star.” But for Rivkah, it wasn’t about that.
The new relationship with themselves and their gender brought about a name change that was more in touch with their Jewish-Filipino heritage. Their last credit as Becca Brown was in 2020 and their first credit as Rivkah Reyes was in the 2021 movie Alex/October.
Finding their identity
Rivkah has been open about their gender and sexuality since high school, coming out to their family and friends with little to no surprise.
After finding their true self a little more in college, Reyes would go by both “they” and “she” pronouns. More self-discovery led Reyes to identify as nonbinary as their true self, and use “they/them” pronouns.
Rivkah tries their best to make sure everyone learning about gender neutral, nonbinary, and queer worlds are met with as much tolerance as they would like to be met with.
If you need a new podcast to listen to, Reyes has you covered on that front, too. Starting in April of 2021, their podcast Where Are We Now? follows Rivkah as they interview former child stars to see what everyone is up to these days.
So, is Rivkah still in love with music? Uh, heck yeah! If you want to hear covers and original music, hop on over to their YouTube channel and check it all out.
Still in touch with School of Rock cast
What about those old bandmates? Calling their School of Rock cast “a family,” Rivkah still has a group chat with the kids that once rocked. In posts and throwbacks to their time making School of Rock, Reyes often tags their old teacher Jack Black on Instagram, along with celebrating any former bandmate who has something to brag about.
They were especially close to their former rock-mate, Kevin Alexander Clark, until his unfortunate and untimely death at 32 after being hit and killed by a car while riding his bike in 2021, in their shared birth city of Chicago.
Rebecca has attended several School of Rock reunions. The first one in 2015 for the 10 year reunion concert and then again more privately in 2019.
Since moving to LA in 2020, it looks as if Rivkah has met their match in partner Kristen Laffey, who is a producer and actor.
According to their Instagram pages, the pair seem to have started dating earlier this year, around February.
We hope they have nothing but happiness in their future, as well as more chances for us to catch Rivkah on screen!