Makeup and Photos by Crystal Rogers | Creative Direction by Jasmine Ray

Robin Stevens aka Rhabi Rites is a multi-talented playwright, singer/songwriter and film director who is best known for her work on the Heaven film trilogy.

Where were you born and what was your childhood like?

I was born in Greensboro, North Carolina. And I was a foster child. And then later adopted into a family. So it was different. I was picked on, made fun of, bullied. That would be now. Yeah. Yeah, so it was pretty tough. Yeah.

How would you describe your college experience?

College, for me, I was not ready for college. I went the traditional route of finishing high school and going straight to college. I went to Bennett College, actually, at first. And went there for four years. And came out and did not graduate because I just wasn’t ready for college. So I went back at the age of 40 and got my college accounting degree from Greensboro College.

Photos by Crystal for INSIDE Monthly at Picture Studios in Greensboro, NC

What films do you remember watching as a teen or a child?

We didn’t get to watch much television as a child. So the only thing I got to see was Hee Haw, Lawrence Welk. And I distinctly remember the movie The Exorcist. And it scared me to death. Oh. Yeah. I know. But it was a strict Christian household, so we didn’t get to watch much television.

Tell us about your career in accounting.

I enjoy numbers. So I’ve been doing accounting since before I had my degree. Because I was going to school to be an accountant. So I’ve been working with numbers all my life. I’ve been doing taxes since maybe the year 2000. Incorporated my business in 2014. And now I have about 310 clients, business and individual clients. So, yeah.

Film director Rhabi Rites sharing a laugh with Crystal at Picture Studios in Greensboro, NC

What was life like for you during the pandemic?

Freeing. I was living in Florida at that time. I was there with someone I was engaged to. And I think like a lot of folks, you kind of realize what’s going to work and what’s not. And it wasn’t going to work. So it was freeing for me.

Well, what would you do if the world shut down again?

I would just write more. And come up with insight, concepts, and ideas. That’s something that I go over in my head a lot. In the shower I say, “Lord, give me more insight, concepts, and ideas.” And that’s where I get most of my writings from. Ideas for the accounting business. And things like that.

What should people know about HEAVEN, your first feature film?

They should know that it is a series. That there’s some background to this feature film. There is a stage play that we did titled Delivered. And that turned into a web series titled Heaven. So there’s a lot of background to the feature film that I really want people to get off my YouTube page in order to understand where they are with the feature.

Makeup and Photos by Crystal Rogers | Creative Direction by Jasmine Ray

How is stage play directing different from making a film?

Stage play is right there. Right then. With the actors, they have to learn their lines beforehand and be able to deliver those lines to a live audience. With film, I feel like the actors have a little bit more freedom because they can learn lines but still go off set and learn their lines if they haven’t learned them and then bring it all together. And then with film, you have take one, take two, take three. With stage play, that’s it.

What do fans of the web series like most about it?

The drama. They love that Heaven and Gavin have this love-hate relationship. I see that and I hear that a lot. They like the intense scenes sometimes. And some of them like the little risqué scenes too. Because I hear a lot of people say, “I didn’t know you thought like that.” And I tell them, you have no idea. You have no idea.

What were the challenges that you overcame during filming?

Timing. Making sure that everybody’s there on time. You don’t always get the actors to come in on time even though there’s a call time. You’re waiting sometimes and I can get very frustrated in waiting because time is money in filming. So to get people to be there at their call time is very frustrating and it’s just something that I have to learn to just be patient with. But that’s one of the most difficult things is to have people on set on time so that the film and that scene can get filmed at the allotted time that’s on schedule.

Makeup and Photos by Crystal for INSIDE Monthly at Picture Studios in Greensboro, NC

Why did you choose IndieRights as a distributor?

I was approached by a young man, his name is Chris Baxter, and he saw the trailer that I had put on Facebook, and so he just kind of contacted me on Messenger and said, “Hey, I saw the trailer, I’m very interested in seeing the finished product, and maybe I can match you up with the distributor.” So it was Chris Baxter that went for that for me and got me the IndieRights distribution deal.

What can you tell us about the sequel or future projects?

For Heaven there’s a last installment that’s coming and a lot of people don’t want to hear that, but Heaven will have her last installment with the feature film that we will start filming in June. It mirrors the book that’s titled Heaven’s Return. So if you’ve ever read the book, it mirrors the book. Of course, there’s some liberties that I take as well, but it brings Heaven back to herself. As she’s searching for her identity, she finds out who she is. So that’s what the installment is about.

Makeup and Photos by Crystal Rogers of Picture Studios @RentMyStudio

What’s the best movie you’ve seen so far in 2023?

I don’t see movies much. I don’t know. I haven’t seen any movies, I don’t think, this year. What’s out now? That’s so sad. Yeah, I haven’t. I haven’t been to the movies. Yeah, I don’t. And I don’t watch because I write original material and I don’t want that to bleed into my writing and somebody say, “Oh, that’s what Tyler Perry just wrote” or “That’s what somebody else wrote.” And so I don’t watch a lot of TV shows or films because I want my original writings to be just that—original.

What is your favorite song to listen to during your photo shoots?

I like Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time.” It’s just something about that song that gives me a sense of, “Give me, this is my moment.” And I think that speaks to a lot of artists, just give me one moment in time. I love her song. In fact, I would like that to play at my funeral.

Film director Rhabi Rites posing with Crystal at Picture Studios in Greensboro, NC

What do you like most about living in North Carolina?

The weather. I love the seasons. You get the taste of four seasons most of the time. And the people and the hospitality and the Southern charm. I grew up here, so I’ve basically been here for my 56 years, and I enjoy this state so much.

Where’s your favorite place to take a trip or vacation?

Any place where there’s a beach and sand. I just got back from Aruba. I’ve been to the Bahamas, the Caribbean. Just beach and sand is where you’ll find Rhabi Rites.

Watch Heaven on Tubi by clicking here | Follow Rhabi On Instagram @rhabi_rites

What would you cook if the President came to your house?

One of my Italian dishes. I’m a chef on the side. I would fix one of my Italian dishes for him. Hope he heard it. I hope so.

Is this the year that the Dallas Cowboys win the Super Bowl?

It needs to be because I’m a die-hard fan. Go Cowboys!

“In the shower I say, ‘Lord, give me more insight, concepts, and ideas.’ And that’s where I get most of my writings from.” – Rhabi Rites