Actor Making Moves
Please tell us who Chris Richardson is?
Chris Richardson is a 50/50 split of disciplined hard work and a free flowing spirit. Being from Germany, the son of an active duty military father and mother who is from the soil of Jamaica, is what gave birth, literally, to his persona and outlook on life. He is genuinely a very curious, sometimes naive and goofy person who wants to know and explore all that life will tell and offer him. When it’s time to work and get something done, he has a level of discipline that’s normally attributed to an athlete preparing for the Olympics. Refusing to accept failure without a try, leaving tasks unfinished or not inquiring about every resource available. He often characterizes himself as a dry sponge, soaking up whatever is around him, be it common knowledge, wisdom or a life lesson. His mantra in life can be summed up in two words, Stay Ready, meaning to prepare himself daily, by doing the “little things” that leaves him in position to accept, deny, move or be moved by what life brings or takes away from him.
How did you get started as an Actor?
I got started in church, acting in Easter or Christmas related plays and skits. Professionally it was when I first moved to the New York City area. I was unemployed and moved to pursue life as the storybookbeginnings of the struggling entertainer, a stranger in the new big city. One of my favorite shows is Law & Order: SVU and I would always tell people I wanted to be on that show as an actor but would accept playing a dead body or someone in the background. One day I was coming from dance class and I walked right onto a street that was closed off and they were filming an episode there! I took pictures and promptly got ushered away by security thinking that was the closest I would ever get to being on the show. Fast forward two years, and me getting a full time job because I got the harsh reality check that this world is not free and I needed to make some money or forever be a struggling entertainer. By the recommendation of a coworker I signed up with a casting company and the very next day I get a random call on my phone asking me how long it would take for me to get downtown because they had a background role for me on...Law and Order:SVU. I honestly don’t remember what all I did after I hung up the phone, as the next thing I do remember is looking up and realizing I was on set, in a Hugo Boss suit from wardrobe and in a scene with Ice-T and Peter Scanavino. As an artist, I was awakened in the middle of the night about 20 years ago, with this pressure, a divine pressure. I got up and wrote an entire play, by hand, in one sitting. One that I hadn’t previously thought of, wasn’t in mind or even something that I wanted to do. That play was put on a shelf, in a notebook for 17 years, but finally came to life on stage. I knew from that night on, that one of, it not my only purpose in life, was to captivate people by what I do or what flows through me.
What drives you to stay to be an actor?
The guaranteed uncertainty, unnerving and the inability to dictate the journey I go on with each role or opportunity. I am an analytical person, so having to say “i don’t know” drives me crazy but with acting, it’s welcomed. I don’t know 100% of the time how I’m going to feel before, during or after being in a role. And that’s totally fine with me. That’s how I know I’m meant to be doing this, I have yet, nor do I anticipate, ever looking at the function of acting as a job or something that has a specific outcome each time. I look at it and feel that it’s something that has always been a part of me and it’s my way of life and a means of expression.
Who is someone you respect in your industry?
Denzel Washington. To me, he comes off as someone who understands the glitz and glamour side of the industry but isn’t here just for that. He puts in the work, transforms himself into every role and every scene he’s in and most importantly to me, he shares his wisdom when he’s interviewed or speaking. When I see him in a role or just how he carries himself I get the feeling that he’s down to earth and easy to talk to but isn’t about wasting time or our natural gifts either. He understands his place in this world, which I believe cleared and continues to clear the path for him to be, in my opinion, the greatest actor I’ve ever seen.
Can you tell us how the last few months of COVID (Stay-at-Home) has made a positive or negative impact on your acting career?
These last few months of staying at home through quarantine and Covid had a tremendously positive impact on my acting career. I, as I’m sure like a lot of other actors and actresses, was left with no other choice but to face myself in the mirror and assess what that image is. I was able to wholeheartedly accept myself, from my physical attributes, the sound of my voice, the way I smiled...just never really had the time to be still long enough to look at myself and say “I love you.” I’m a perfectionist by nature so I can find something to work on, improve or knit pick to death, but this quarantine and being inside so much, spoke volumes to me. None of which was about being perfect, because as I found out, perfection is a pursuit that ends in insanity and emptiness. I’m already goofy enough as it is, so I don’t need to add driving myself insane to that. Through this I am so much more comfortable when I audition or just play around with the camera to rehearse on my own. I’m not sitting there thinking about how I look, what someone else may be staring at on me or if I don’t sound perfect. I just deep dive into the opportunity and give it my best effort, as nothing beats a failure but a try. A popular saying that I like to have in my thoughts is “whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” I now think I can, so for myself I’m right about being an actor.
How have you stayed busy in your industry during COVID, these last few months?
Covid and the quarantine have been devastating to say the least for a lot of people and I never want to come off as being ignorant and callous of that fact. For me in particular it has been the opposite. I was fortunate enough to have a day job which left me with tons of free time that I devoted to submitting to agencies and casting calls. I secured two commercials that went national, signed with an agency and have all but mastered the art of auditioning over video conferencing. More importantly, I remembered why it was I moved to New York to begin with and I lit that fire again inside of me to never be put out again until I and life are done with what we have agreed and set out to do. I continued to work out, stretch to improve my flexibility and stay positive while at home which I feel was the reason why I was successful. I put out the energy of not giving up, not losing focus and staying prepared as if there were no quarantine. Life had no choice but to return that energy to me in the form of opportunity.
Can you tell us what have been some of your favorite roles (characters) you have played?
The first one will always be Law & Order: SVU. When the episode aired I don’t think I breathed or blinked for the whole hour, even though I was only
on camera for all of 3 seconds, it was still surreal and a dream come true. There was a commercial where I played a “cool dad” that had this back and forth with his child while he buckles them into a car seat. I was in my feelings because I feel I look younger than my actual age so for someone to call me a dad was a little off-putting. But when we got on set and I met my on-camera daughter it turned out to be a really cool experience. My first web-series I was cast in is definitely a memorable one as it had me in my first kissing and intimate scenes. My character is this brash, kinda conceited yet sensitive guy who has an ongoing affair with a woman who he works with and is engaged. I was so nervous as I’m more of a prude and reserve certain physical things for when I’m in a relationship. I jumped into that kiss and felt like I attacked the actress’s face but it helped that we had to do several takes of it. The play I wrote, ‘Payback’, I played one of the main characters. I had costumes made which made me feel official and as if I were on Broadway. I felt what it was like to bring something from just a thought, to writing it to actually putting it on stage in front of a live audience.
What are some hobbies you have?
Photography, music, writing, people watching and performance cars. I like taking pictures of natural occurring things versus selfies or buzz worthy events. I am a true fan of all kinds of music as long as I can either dance or sing along to it. I always say if you just go outside and post up anywhere and wait for about 5 to 10 minutes someone is going to come along and do something that’s going to peak your interest, make you laugh or remember them. And sometimes that person is yourself. I used to have my own low-budget versions of Fast and Furious cars so I’m a sucker for a loud exhaust, big wheels and roaring engine. Writing lets me explore and say things that I think are taboo or out of character for myself. I get to create this entire universe and traverse it organically, with adventure and a sort of reckless vibe with relation to playing it safe.
What would be your dream acting role?
One that has me playing both good and evil, light and darker sides of life. I am an either or kind of guy in life anyway, but I would love to be able to take the training wheels off and really explore how extreme I can take it with being a darker, more evil light and darker sides of life. I am an either or kind of guy in life anyway, but I would love to be able to take the training wheels off and really explore how extreme I can take it with being a darker, more evil character that also has a natural good side to them. I think since I spend so much time being a goofball, wanting to help people and having been treated unfairly in life, that I would have a wealth of feelings and experiences to draw from to portray that type of character.
What is up next for Chris Richardson?
I’ve been writing a lot and want to bring life to those words. Hopefully I can secure a space and keep the actors and actresses safe while on set so I can get some of my ideas on film and in front of viewers real soon. Continuing to audition, be submitted for roles and keeping hope alive for that elusive guest speaking role on Law & Order: SVU.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
I see myself being a mentor for people, both young and old. In my mind I’m already that old man sitting on the front steps ready to tell a story and impart wisdom to anyone willing to listen. I definitely will be a more accomplished actor, producer and director. Someone that up and comers can come to as a means to get a fair chance or opportunity in this industry.
Is there anything you would like your fans to know about you please add here?
One of the most rewarding and fun things I do is host my own conversation show, Kathenas Talk. It’s always an eye opener when we get to that natural point in conversation and we just freely share stories and experiences. Not many people know that I dance, how passionate I am about it and credit the way I’m able to accept rejection because of it. Dance is the one art form that won’t or can’t lie to you. It gives you the space to interpret what you see and feel under the guise of their being a right way to do things. As long as you’re moving and willing to move, then you’re going in the direction you’ll eventually have to go in anyway to be a better dancer, mover and person. I have been fortunate enough to be a guest artist for NRDC and appear in a couple music videos for some pretty popular artists as well. I have my own production company that also handles castings, kathenasentertainment.com.
The reason I mention castings, is that I make sure to only produce diverse content that every one can either be a part of or feel a part of. Physical Fitness is a lifestyle for me as I’m a trained and certified fitness trainer. I started kathenasfitness.com to be a trainer that approaches fitness knowing that we only get our bodies with the original equipment once, so why not do a better job at taking care of ourselves while we’re able to. I am a huge mental health advocate and supporter, especially for men, black men. I created a resourceful website, men-tallyaware.com, where anyone can go for vital information, warning signs and ways to help men who are in need of, in distress or can benefit from better mental health hygiene habits. Lastly, always strive to Stay Ready, as you never know what is going to happen next, so try not to be caught completely off guard.
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