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Local Artist Spotlight: Disc Jockey/Actress/Activist Rebecah Rye

IN THE July 4 ISSUE

FROM THE 2020 Articles,
andMovies,
andMusic,
andSteven Sanchez
SECTIONS

by Steven Sanchez

What do you get when you mix the elements of intelligence, beauty, talent, attitude, drive, ambition, spirituality, and tenacity? The concoction result would be local on-air personality, actress, and now activist, Rebecah Rye. She’s the nighttime voice for 105.1 The Blaze, “Fresno’s Best Rock,” playing headbangin’ metal anthems and the traffic coordinator for the rock station and the hip hop format Q97.1. The listeners know her as Bec on air. As of now she’s one of two female disc jockeys on the radio that plays the rock genre locally. Not only does her femininity make her a minority but so does her Hispanic identity. Very few women occupy rock radio airwaves or the music in general, but she’s wanting to break down that barrier with her talent and her eagerness to trying new things beyond the realm of just being behind a sound board.

Rebecah Rye

If Picasso was given a muse to sculpt the perfect mold of what a prototypical rocker girl would be, such as red hair, dark makeup, leather jacket, tattoos, a whole lot of sass, and a band t-shirt, it would be her. This woman has rubbed shoulders with some of the most prominent bands in the rock genre such as Breaking Benjamin, Shinedown, Halestorm, Dorothy, The Fever 333, etc.

A little background on this leather clad metal pundit. In 2010, Bec lived overseas in New Zealand and worked as a brand ambassador in marketing for the All Blacks’ Rugby team during the Rugby World Cup. Afterward she was all-aboard the Princess Cruise-line hosting the Youth Entertainment between 2012-2013. She then graduated as valedictorian of her class with a criminal justice degree in 2015. That’s when she made her foray into radio. She had no prior experience before but that didn’t deter her from being associated with the station. She volunteered to help set up equipment at remotes, attended every concert when she didn’t have to, asked questions until her opportunity came, and the rest is history.

She’s already got eleven films under her belt (some are in the process of filming, in post, or completed). She’s mostly been featured in the horror genre. But one look at her you would never expect her to be a damsel, she’s a total final girl. Her biggest roles to date would be as an extra in the Furious 7 installment of The Fast and The Furious franchise and an extra in the music video for Shinedown The Human Radio. But she wears many hats when she’s on set. She’s been a producer, casting assistant, stunt double, second assistant director, and assistant director.

Becah is with Zach Myers, the guitarist for Shinedown

This woman can do it all as an on-air personality, actress, mother, and now you can add the title of activist to her stellar resume. Once the protests came about in light of the George Floyd incident, she felt now was her time to speak out, and since not a lot of films are in production, she saw this as being her most important role to date. She may’ve found her voice on rock radio, but now she’s just been discovering her new voice in the midst of all this upheaval and how that voice can help others seeking equality.

Never wanting to make excuses or back down, that’s been her philosophy all her life and the metal music she plays in the booth and in her everyday life has been her rallying cry. For her, rock and metal isn’t just a hobby or an interest, it’s a statement, it embodies who she is. A survivor in every sense of the word from abuse and abandonment, and has faced every obstacle imaginable for her to accomplish her endeavors, and has consistently prevailed. The sky is the limit for this eclectic, media unicorn. Kings River Life had the privilege of entering the mind of the hard rock connoisseur to reveal the impact the music has made on her life, could the genre make a comeback to achieve mainstream success the way it used to, overcoming obstacles to succeed in radio and acting, and how activism can effect change for a better world.

KRL: You’re one of the only few, if not currently the only woman but woman of color on rock radio locally. How does that make you feel?

Bec: The great thing about radio is that your career is based on the voice, people can create pretty much any interpretation of whom they perceive me as and as long as they are fond of my voice. The image of my physicality isn’t something I have ever even thought of being a factor in my career.

KRL: Do you feel a personal responsibility to show listeners, naysayers, even the radio industry itself that women on radio or just in music itself can rock?

Bec: Experiencing rock in its purest form has never been about proving anything to anyone. For myself personally, it is the message, the beat, and the community of people that surround the genre that create an environment I have always felt at home in.

KRL: Why do you think, still till this day, there’s a shortage of female representation of women on stage and women on radio in the world of rock?

Bec: I have looked up to many female rockers throughout my life never feeling there was a shortage of representation of females in the industry. We can certainly have more, but with the likes of Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, Juliette Lewis, Amy Lee, Taylor Momsen, Lzzy Hale, Lacey Sturm, Maria Brink, Mixi Demner, Otep Shamaya, Ashley Costello, Hayley Williams, they are just a few of the bad ass females who have paved such a monumental step for females in the industry. I am proud to be a female aspiring to rock as hard as these wild women.

Becah with Breaking Benjamin

KRL: Being a woman and person of color automatically separates you from the competition. It’s what makes you different. Do you see it as a blessing or a curse that the thing that makes you stand out in this profession is your gender and skin color?

Bec: I don’t see it that way. My gender and race have never defined my passions or opportunities. If doors have been closed towards me they simply were not doors I was meant to walk through. I have found that the energy of my personality speaks for itself, being female with a good tan is just a bonus in my book for all the fun it has created in my life. To stand out in this profession being bold and having the ability to persevere in the face of adversity is just the name of the game for anyone. I like to think being “Bec” is what defines my ability to stay afloat with the competition and not so much pertaining to the physical qualities of my gender.

KRL: Is that what drives you even more to show people that there’s more to what makes you unique instead of what your sex or race is?

Bec: I love radio because I have a passion for speaking, for engaging with an audience and for rocking to the music I grew up surviving life with. It is an honor to be able to call that a job, and I don’t do it to show anyone anything other than the content I myself enjoy as well.

Becah with The Fever 333

KRL: I’ve noticed that in certain genres, but especially with rock, they’re not particularly known for gender or racial inclusivity. There’s women and people of color involved, but the amount is a disparaging number in comparison to the high number of mostly Caucasian musicians that are a part of the genre. Why do you think this genre has been particularly slow when it comes to accepting adversity whether it’s from people who play the music on stage or on the airwaves?

Bec: I think that those who have chosen not to back down, no matter how many no’s were slammed in their face are those who have succeeded in the industry. It is more of a try me mentality, than a why me mentality. If you have a passion, if you have the talent, the connections, and a tad bit of luck you are in for a great journey. Don’t give up and keep creating. We need more musicians, and that stems from the younger generations deciding they have something they believe is worth saying.

The lead singer of Shinedown, Brent Smith, raises his fist in the air, and Becah, in the far right corner, does the same

KRL: There’s people out there that say that rock is dead. In comparison to how mainstream the art form used to be back then, let’s say that it has lost its touch. Do you believe if there were more people of color involved with the music or just more representation in all facets of the industry itself, do you think it can bounce back and redeem itself to be a popular genre of music the way it used to be?

Bec: Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Lenny Kravitz, Living Colour, Bad Brains, Tommy Vext, Sevendust, Fire from the Gods, are just a few of the amazing artists of color in this industry. Again, I believe those who have persisted have seen their dreams through to fruition. As far as rock being dead, that is the fuel to our fire and those in the rock community certainly do not believe the industry is dead in any facet. Check out any festival around, Aftershock, Ozzfest, and many of the rock festivals all around the United States will showcase the amount of people that are alive and well enjoying the genre.

KRL: You’ve been a rocker your whole life. What attracted you to the world of rock? When someone calls you a rocker, what do you think that means?

Bec: There is a certain aspect of the rock genre that creates a sense of understanding for the pain, oppression, traumas, and unfortunate experiences human beings have faced. In my own personal experience, music has always been a big part of my life, but I grew up in a very conservative religious household, and as I grew up, rock became my saving grace.

KRL: What does rock mean to you?

Bec: Rock is the call for humanity to rise into its most strengthened self and stand against those who have shut us down. Whatever your demons are…rock music has a way of understanding and helping you survive the journey in facing them.

KRL: What separates rock from all the other genres of music?

Bec: Lyrically speaking I believe the rock genre is the music that will be able to unify all facets of life, race, creed, religion, and gender. It doesn’t matter what background you have because once that first sound of a kick drum infects your heart you have no choice but to feel empowered towards a higher existence of yourself and to be a part of something bigger. Rock to me is the closest form of worship that I haven’t felt that movement with other genres.

KRL: What are your favorite bands?

Bec: I have always had a strong liking for Breaking Benjamin, the original Three Days Grace, Shinedown, Halestorm, Theory of a Deadman, Tool, etc. If they create the need to headbang you can bet they are a favorite.

KRL: You established yourself as a well-known on air personality in the area, but you moved into acting. Very hardly does that happen where people jump from broadcasting into acting. It does happen, but it’s a rarity. What made you want to get into acting? What was it like having to juggle two mediums when there aren’t that many people to look up to that are doing what you’re doing?

Bec: I have been acting my whole life. My first initial experience on a film set was a few years before I actually got into radio where I had the opportunity to be an extra in Furious 7 of The Fast and The Furious franchise, but before that I had been in theatre since childhood, and I’ve never categorized them into separate parts to juggle. I have a passion for the entertainment industry, and I love the rock industry. I saw an opportunity to be able to fulfill those dreams, and I’ll continue to strive for those personal goals because they make me who I am.

KRL: They’re both different professions, but they do have their similarities in that you’re putting yourself out there in an entertainment platform, you’ll gain fans, you’re putting on a persona, etc. Do you use the same approach to being a DJ as you do when you take on a roll? If not then how do you prepare for both?

Bec: Sure, taking on a role is somewhat of a persona, however I have found the roles I have been lucky enough to portray are always some form of characteristics I already possess myself. It makes acting a lot easier when you can channel versions of yourself just acting as the situation needs. I feel I’ve had a lot of success because I stay true to who I would be in the situations the roles have created. And who you hear on air is just “Bec” in raw form. It’d be hard to pretend to be someone else every day.

KRL: You’re involved in two industries where it’s been known that they don’t value women as much as they do men. What kind of racism, prejudice, or discrimination have you faced in radio and on a film set?

Bec: Being a woman and tomboy rocker with sexuality has definitely created a few situations that I’d rather forget. However, I have learned the “try me” attitude is far more intimidating than the “why me” attitude. Instead of hoping for someone to swoop in and address these issues, I have simply learned to gravitate towards those who respect me, and stand up against those who don’t.

KRL: You have a certain look, you have red hair, tattoos, a deep voice, you wear dark clothes and leather, and you have beauty. With your image, you do fit the character mold of what a rocker girl would look like and you definitely fit into the horror genre which you’ve been the most involved with. Do you fear that if you decided to switch playing a different genre of music or acting in a different genre of movies that you’re so established into the look that you have now that you’ll be typecast as being or playing the same character whether it be in radio or in movies?

Bec: I seek roles and opportunities that are focused towards my passions. I grew up watching the sci-fi channel cringe worthy, Saturday binge watching marathons knowing I wanted to be a part of them. I seek out festivals and interviews of people who I have felt a connection to their music. So, no, I don’t worry about being typecasted because I am being cast in exactly the situations I have always wanted to be a part of and for no other reason than it excites and fills my spirit. Furthermore, I just recently wrapped my first lead role in a western movie Above Snakes where it was the first experience of being cast as a completely different role than I am used to. It was a blast, and I am looking forward to its release as it will be one of the first roles I can showcase as a completely different character out of my wheelhouse than those in the horror genre I have been in thus far. The sky’s the limit!

KRL: You’re a DJ and an actress, but you’re also a mother. What’s it like juggling all those responsibilities at once?

Bec: I am a better mother when I am pursuing my dreams. I want my son to grow up knowing he can and will be able to accomplish anything he seeks out for himself and that starts by seeing it first hand by those around him.

KRL: You’re involved in a musical and film genre that isn’t considered age appropriate. Rock shows are known for singing about drugs and misogyny, and concerts are known to get out of hand but you let your son listen to it and you take him to shows. The horror genre is known for mature content and for murder and gore and you act in that genre. Do you feel that this genre of music and movies will have a negative impact on his growth as he gets older?

Bec: There have been plenty of teaching moments having exposed my son to rock festivals and concerts at an early age. However, I don’t focus on the negative you can find in any genre of movie and music. There is negative in all areas of life if that is what you choose to focus on. I choose music that empowers myself and others and compels the spirit to endure hardship and rise above it. I am teaching my son that he is the master of his choices, as well as consequences for certain choices. I am an adult, and the adult content I choose to partake in is not something I go around parading in front of my son. There is a time for it and there is a time for censored innocence, that is just common sense. Furthermore, I could also add that growing up with only conservative hymn type of religious music was what I was sheltered with up until high school which impacted me in the opposite way that was intended. So, from that learning experience in my own life, I want my son to know he can enjoy any types of music as long as the message is positive and meant for encouragement. If that means headbanging to screaming vocalists, so be it.

KRL: Have you had your concerns on why rock can be so indiscrete and horror movies can be so bloody that have you ever questioned it before? Have you doubted your involvement in both of these endeavors knowing their histories and the content they project, and have you ever questioned yourself in the regard of how long you plan on staying involved with these things?

Bec: There have been plenty of opportunities I have chosen not to take for this exact reason. Some things in the genre I don’t need to associate myself with and for that I politely have declined situations or opportunities that were simply meant for someone else. If you are always true to yourself, there is no reason to question the things that you enjoy if you aren’t hurting anyone else.

KRL: When you got into this business, did you come in with the intent of young girls looking up to you? Do you want to be a role model? How do you feel when someone says that you inspire them?

Bec: I came into the business of radio looking to find myself. It is amazing the journey our subconscious goes through as we find our way through open doors and closed opportunities. Getting into radio was a pivotal transition in my life where I made the choice to stop thinking practically about my life and started believing it could be magical, and if there is one thing I would wish for younger generations, it is that they believe with their whole heart that their voice can change the world. Their dreams can come to light, and their world can be exactly as they want it if they choose to pursue it with their greatest efforts.

KRL: With the activism, you participated in the protests, but how far do you want to take this?

Bec: I participated in witnessing a protest in Los Angeles county because as a media professional and journalist, I needed to know for myself what was happening. Social media is a toxic environment of opinion and hate, and the only way to truly form your own thought is to experience situations for yourself. As a reporter and a patriotic American, I wanted to be able to understand, and communicate for myself what I was seeing instead of spewing thought without being able to back it up with actual experience. No matter your opinion on the movement, loving your neighbor and standing up for him and his right to protest is something I strongly believe in, and as an American, I felt obligated to stand and spectate to understand what is going on for myself. I encourage everyone to also see for themselves versus taking news outlets or social media posts as fact without the added understanding of witnessing these situations first hand.

KRL: You said you wanted to start a band. With this band, what would be the direction of the music and your involvement with it?

Bec: I have always had a passion for music, but I think most of us at a young age get caught up in practical thinking versus passionate thinking. It has been an amazing opportunity being able to work so close to the music industry in the genre that I love, and seeing what all goes into the production and performance of it. I would love to eventually be able to create music and put on a show for the Central Valley the way I enjoy them. I think we are in a crucial time in society that music is still the one thing that can collectively get a group of people together that may not be able to agree on a lot of things. If you can create music that does that, you can get those people to focus on an understanding that they all agree on, and if you do that then you can change the world.

Steven Sanchez is a film graduate of UNLV. He’s a filmmaker, writer, photographer, and music manager. Obsessed with movies, comic books, and rock ‘n’ roll. A football fanatic, big fan of the Oakland Raiders. Enjoys reading and collecting vinyl records. If there’s a rock show in town more than likely he’ll be there. Loves his grandma’s home cooked meals. He has a twin sister and most people call him the pretty one. You can learn more about Steven on his YouTube channel and on Instagram @stevensanchez5807 photos and videos.

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