Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter has made the big jump from streaming to acting, debuting in the new Apple TV+ movie, The Family Plan. Speaking with Kotaku Australia while promoting the film, she says her work to bring more visibility to women in gaming spaces is part of her push to “break the stigma” around gaming.
Valkyrae’s role in The Family Plan, the action-comedy film helmed by Mark Wahlberg, was revealed earlier this year to much excitement from her community of viewers and fans, and sees the streamer playing as herself in an esports team in her debut live-action film role (having previously lent her voice to Tribe Nine and Sonic Prime and featuring in a number of music videos over the last two years). We got to chat with her ahead of the Apple TV+ premiere about her experiences on set, broadening her horizons beyond gaming, and the stigma around gaming.
The popular streamer (to the tune of over four million subscribers on YouTube) and co-owner of gaming organisation and lifestyle brand 100 Thieves began streaming in 2015, and has gone from strength to strength since – in 2020, she was the fastest growing female streamer, and has become one of the most-viewed female streamers on YouTube.
Valkyrae says she “got really lucky” with her role in The Family Plan which allowed her to play to her strengths as a gamer. Despite the role involving her playing as herself, she says there was still an element of playing a character. “I definitely tried to be myself, but to act more professional since I was playing the role of the captain..I felt like I had to take more of this leadership role and really act like I knew what I was doing,” she says. “I mean, I’ve played the game so many times before, but I’m definitely not a professional Valorant player…So I just, you know, I just pretended like I was the best.”
Her role in the film comes in the form of a major side plot for Kyle, Wahlberg’s character’s son, who secretly streams Valorant from a friend’s garage away from his family and has made it relatively big. Kyle has to overcome the stigma from his parents to prove that his hobby is a positive influence on his life both in and out of game.
Valkyrae is by no means done with acting after her most recent stint in The Family Plan, and says she “definitely wants to do it again” and keep pushing herself out of her comfort zone beyond her regular gaming streams.
The shift from streaming and content creation to acting had Valkyrae “very nervous” but has “been a very gradual rise.” “I’ve been kind of pushing myself to try things that I never thought I would do, which just happens to be everything outside of gaming. And so I’ve just been taking opportunities throughout the years, whether that was being in music videos, or doing a spread in Vogue Philippines or voice acting,” she says.
“I’m just really grateful to have had these opportunities from gaming, which I didn’t think was possible. But yeah, it’s always nerve racking. It’s never easy, but I just know that like people are watching and like a lot of my fans and friends and families are inspired by me.”
Valkyrae says one of her main goals is to normalise “being a woman in this [gaming] space” and to “push to break the stigma about gaming” that still gets trotted out in tropes across popular media – something she says The Family Plan manages to do by showing gaming in a positive light.
“I know when I was growing up, I was bullied for gaming…I hid it, I kept it a secret. Although I got very lucky because my family was okay with me gaming, which I learned a lot of people didn’t have that kind of support back then,” she says. “So, seeing it become more normalised because it really is just a form of entertainment – it’s just like watching TV, except it’s more engaging.”
Despite knowing many women who play games, Valkyrae says plenty are “kind of just hiding” due to ongoing notions of what a gamer looks like. However, she says the rise in positive portrayals of gaming in mainstream entertainment goes a long way.
“You know, seeing it being shown in movies like this, I think it’ll be more accepted and people will be able to just have fun and more opportunities arise because of this,” she says.
The Family Plan is available to stream on Apple TV+ now.
Lead Image Credit: Apple TV+
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