Rasha Pecoraro & Yvette Gentile Interview: Facing Evil Podcast

Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile's new podcast, Facing Evil, highlights true crime cases where lives were taken too soon or otherwise destroyed, with an emphasis on empathy and understanding for the victims and even the perpetrators. Facing Evil drops new episodes every Thursday and is available on whatever platform you listen to podcasts.

Produced by Tenderfoot TV and iHeartRadio, Facing Evil is the latest project for the sisters who previously teamed up on the podcast Root of Evil, which accompanied TNT's acclaimed limited series I Am The Night. Directed and produced by Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) and starring Chris Pine, I Am The Night was the fictionalized life story of Fauna Hodel (played by India Eisley), Rasha and Yvette's mother.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

Related: I Am The Night Ending Explained

Screen Rant had the pleasure of interviewing Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile about their mother, Fauna Hodel, their family's fascinating history, and how they use Facing Evil to highlight important true crime stories to promote awareness and healing.

For anyone who's not familiar with your family and hasn't seen I Am The Night or heard Root of Evil, can you talk a little bit about your mother, Fauna Hodel? Since it's her birthday, and your family history is absolutely fascinating.

Rasha Pecoraro: Thank you for that question, John. So our mom, Fauna Hodel, was born on August 1, 1951. And she was given up for adoption under very mysterious circumstances in San Francisco. She was given away to an African American family in Reno, Nevada because her birth certificate literally stated that she was - and I know it's not PC, but it said that she was "Negro."

Yvette Gentile: It said her father was "Negro."

Rasha Pecoraro: So she looked like me. For your readers, she had dark blonde hair that ended up being brown, [and she was a] blue-eyed, young woman. She thought she was biracial her whole life. And then at 15, she had Yvette, who is biracial.

Yvette Gentile: When I was born, I was everything that she wanted to be, where she could blend in on both sides. Because like Rasha said, she was this Caucasian young girl growing up in a black community.

Anyhow, to make a long story longer [laughs], Fauna searched for her real mother. We say this a lot: She was the Nancy Drew of her life story. She went on this mission. And then she finally made the phone call and found her mother in Honolulu, Hawaii. And we flew there to meet her.

Rasha Pecoraro: I wasn't born yet. [laughs]

Yvette Gentile: She wasn't born yet. And [Fauna's mother Tamar] was this beautiful, hip woman, she had these three beautiful boys that we thought were girls. We thought they were girls because they all had long hair. But they were boys; peace, love and joy. That's when Tamar told her that she wasn't black, and that her father was some Italian playboy who took advantage of her. And her grandfather... There also was incest in the family, and all the other things that come with that.

Rasha Pecoraro: And that he was an accused serial killer. Most notably, [George Hodel] was one of the suspects in the Elizabeth Short murder case, which is better known as the Black Dahlia case. That's the really long story. But despite all of that, our mom always knew that she had to tell her story. Because she wasn't black enough; she wasn't white enough. And then she ended up having me 11 years after she had Yvette.

How did Fauna end up telling her life story, which became I Am The Night on TNT?

Rasha Pecoraro: She had tried to make her story into a movie in the early '90s with Sean Ferrer, who's the son of Audrey Hepburn, [but] it got stopped. She thought it got stopped because George Hodel stopped it. And then she just kept going and persevering, persevering, and she met Patty Jenkins in 2010.

She was blown away by Patty. They formed this friendship, and Patty's like, "I have to tell your story." Patty told Mom when she got Wonder Woman, "Fauna, please, I'll let you out of your contract. Go sell this to someone else. Your story has to be told. I'm going to be doing Wonder Woman, and I can't do it for years.

Yvette Gentile: And Mom said, "No, I'm gonna wait."

Rasha Pecoraro: Yeah, "I'm waiting for you" And she did. Wonder Woman came out in 2017, and Patty ended up hiring her husband, Sam Sheridan, who became the showrunner and the writer for I Am The Night. And she talked to our beautiful friend, Chris Pine, on the set of Wonder Woman about our mom, Fauna Hodel's, story.

Yvette Gentile: Chris was just like, "Oh, my God, Patty, you have to do this. You have to."

Rasha Pecoraro. He was like, "I have to be a part of it. But I don't want to play George!" [laughs] Sam created Jay Singletary, the character for Chris specifically. I Am The Night was loosely inspired by our mom's life story, "One Day, She'll Darken," which was her book that she self-published.

Six weeks before we were on set, our mom died from breast cancer. Our mom prepared us for this our whole lives. The only difference is she'd be right here in the middle with us, and she'd be interjecting, doing this interview with you.

Yvette Gentile: I think that was the hardest thing. It was so many emotions, because like Rasha said, our mother worked her entire life to finally have her story brought to the light for the world to see. And she wasn't physically with us. So, it was... we kept saying the word surreal because this is her dream; this is her legacy. But at the same time, we were in the midst of our grief, not really even having time to grieve because we went right to set. But with that being said, Patty brought her back to life for us. That was pretty amazing.

Rasha Pecoraro: We fell in love with India Eisley, who played our mom. We fell in love with every single human on set, all the way down to every single person Patty hired as a background actor. But India, she's magic. I think India was cast about a week after mom passed. But coincidentally her mom, Olivia Hussey Eisley...

Yvette Gentile: From Romeo and Juliet...

Rasha Pecoraro: She knew our mom! They had mutual friends.

Yvette Gentile: Chris was a part of it, of course, but she never got to meet India. India's spirit so embodied who our mom was. And Golden Brooks played Jimmy Lee, my grandmother. And she's amazing. We sound like we're name-dropping right now, but they all became family to us.

India Eisley and Chris Pine in I Am the Night

How did you end up doing a podcast, Root of Evil, to coincide with I Am The Night?

Rasha Pecoraro: We were on set 90% of the time and TNT actually wanted to do a companion podcast to I Am The Night because the truth is even crazier than what they showed on I Am The Night. And our mom had audio tapes from the time she was a young girl. Our mom left us all of this audio. And Sam knew about that because Sam interviewed mom for years. They became so close. So [TNT] said, "We want to do a companion podcast," we're like...

Both: What's a podcast? [laughs]

Yvette Gentile: For anyone who's listened to Root of Evil, just the way that it was put together, it's not - and I say this all the time - it's not just a true crime story. It's a multi-dimensional story of family and family secrets. And our mom Fauna's love is the thread that goes through the entire Root of Evil. How much she loved, her family, her brothers, and even the love, she had for her mother, even as complicated as it was. So it's just really a story about family.

I've listened to all four episodes of your new podcast, Facing Evil. It's excellent. Really thought-provoking. I really appreciate your perspective and your outrage at some of these stories. As you bring them to light. Can you talk about why it's so important to talk about these stories and the issues surrounding them?

Yvette Gentile: We always go back to how it started right with our mother. She never became a victim of her circumstances, she was always overcoming in every single situation. Even when she was told something horrible, the darkness that never affected her, she always led and was guided to the light somehow, some way.

So with Facing Evil, like, it's so important for us to share other stories. And we really, really want to emphasize how you can heal. You may not have closure in all of these circumstances, but you can always get to the light, always. I think that's how we tell these stories because we like to highlight the victims.  Because people don't come into this world as victims.

These circumstances that, unfortunately, happened to them traumatize their family and can create generational trauma. So, if we can share our experience and our mother's lived experience, and help somebody believe that they can overcome, these horrible traumas, and lead them into the light so they can survive, that is our mission. That is our goal.

Rasha Pecoraro: We had been approached by many companies for TV podcasts, and they wanted to do salacious true crime. First of all, we are not true crime. Our mom's life story just happens to intersect with a very famous unsolved murder. We were fortunate enough to meet Donald Albright, the co-founder of Tenderfoot TV. He saw us for who we were, which is Fauna Hodel's daughters, and so he was like, "I see exactly what you're supposed to do." He brought in iHeart Radio and we have this amazing, collaborative team.

Yvette Gentile: They see us, and [they know] we didn't want to be true crime aficionados because we're not. We're just telling our story. And again, you can go back, we all have crazy stories, but how can we tell it, you know, with love and passion and, talk about the LGBT, LGBTQ+ community?

So for our listeners, we hope that they take it in and they listen, and they start looking at the things that we're talking about, and learn about our history and how we can all make this world a better place. That's how our mother was. She was all about happily ever after. We know that in this world, that's very hard to come by. But you know, we can try, right? We can try.

Rasha Pecoraro: We're trying to make her proud. And so, we're telling stories that need to be told. Yeah, absolutely. If you would have met our mom, you would have known her whole life story and she would have wanted to know yours. And I think that's what we're doing through Facing Evil. We want to know the stories of these beautiful people that left this earth way too soon. We want to share their light and their legacy for their family. And I think that's really important.

How do you go about choosing your subjects? And how many Facing Evil episodes will there be?

Rasha Pecoraro: Great question. Well, it's weekly. [A new episode] drops every Thursday. We have pitch meetings with our entire team every couple months, and we've been working on this and recording for over a year. We were trying to find the right niche.

Trevor Young is our lead producer from iHeart, and we're so thankful that he's on mic with us because he is the true crime aficionado. He has so much heart and love and kindness, and he gets us. We have like several producers and researchers, and Donald's involved. We all present cases and then, luckily, the final decision is for us, because if it's too dark, we can't do it.

Yvette Gentile: Our imua [meaning "to move forward" in Hawaiian culture] is incredibly special to us. There has to be some type of message or some type of footprint that we can leave. And if it's too dark, we can't do it.

Rasha Pecoraro: Every single case has a different theme and a different healing process. But I knew I wanted to do Marsha P. Johnson from the moment we were going to do Facing Evil. Matthew Shepard,  of course, was episode two, but Marcia comes out this Thursday.

I think it's important to tell Black Lives Matter stories and anti-Asian hate stories. I don't know if there's as much diversity in true crime as what we're bringing at this moment. I think they're afraid to talk about certain stories - like, we did Vanessa Guillen, who was Latina. We have to raise awareness, like with Tina Fontaine. Indigenous women are murdered every day. We've been given this platform, and we want to use it for good.

India Eisley played your mother, Fauna Hodel, in I Am The Night. If you guys got a mini-series or a movie, who would you want Hollywood to cast as you?

Rasha Percoraro: I've never been asked that before.

Yvette Gentile: Jennifer Beals, for sure. For you, Rasha, Reese Witherspoon.

Rasha Pecoraro: I love Reese, but I'd want an openly gay woman. Portia de Rossi is a little bit older than me. I'd say Portia or Reese.

Yvette Gentile: Reese could play the younger you.

Rasha Pecoraro: Reese has been an amazing ally. Let's go with Reese.

Podcasting is probably the most interesting growth industry in entertainment right now, and you guys are so good at it. What do you enjoy about podcasting the most?

Yvette Gentile: I love being with my sister. For me, coming from the acting world, it was always about stepping outside of yourself and becoming that character. Bringing other parts of you. But [podcasting] is completely you. So, it's getting me out of my shell, which I really love. And just being able to share your own wisdom with people. I think [podcasting] is such an incredible platform where if you could just change one person's thought process, it's so interesting. You really feel like you're right there listening to the conversation. And I think it's just so different than any other medium.

Rasha Pecoraro: From the time I was a little girl, before podcasting was a thing, I used to do my own radio shows. I have like old tapes, I need to find them. But I was always wanting to be on the radio and sharing my voice. And it took a long time for me, personally, to share my voice publicly.

Because I knew I was gay from a very young age, but I kept pushing it down; pushing it down. Yvette and I have different fathers - and my father was abusive, emotionally, physically and verbally, and homophobic. So, I kept pushing it down. Then there was just this point [when] I was 21 years old, and something horrific happened between my dad and me, and I literally almost died. Yvette didn't know - none of my friends and family knew - but from that point on, I was like, "Nope. I'm alive. I survived it."

I told my mom, I told everyone, and then I haven't stopped talking since. I'm 43. I finally came out at 30, and I haven't talked to my dad since I came out. But I realized that my voice was the voice I was looking for when I was growing up. Representation matters so much. I, my wife, my daughter, and my sister - I want to do things that will make them proud. I know we're making our mom proud. She championed us no matter what we decided to do. That's just who she was. But I think that by sharing our stories and listening, my sister has taught me listening is so important. And I'm learning so much because we are not perfect.

Yvette Gentile: We, as human beings, we are consistently evolving and learning. Like I tell Rasha, it's so important. Yes, you can talk talk talk, but you have to stop and you have to listen to what others are saying. Because again, if you're not listening, you cannot put yourself in their shoes and understand what is being said. So, that's empathy.

The first 6 episodes of Facing Evil are available on most podcast platforms, with today's episode honoring the life of transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson.

2022-08-06T10:23:54.000Z

Comment