You Have to Play the Game- A Chat with Chicago actor Richard John Reliford

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I have to be honest, one of the coolest parts of my job is interviewing people.  Not just household names, but people who are making their dreams come true. What is really awesome is when a friend leads them to me. Mikeya Summerville is making her own dreams come true by being a publicist in Hollywood. Through her, I got the chance to interview a talented young man. Richard and i found out we had a lot in common. Recently, he took the time out of his holiday visit to have coffee with me.

Richard is originally from Bollingbrook, but his gifts have taken him far.  He spent the first part of his life on the football field with dreams of playing for the NFL. “Football was a prominent part of my life. Northwestern was my dream school where I pictured playing at a Big 10 school and getting drafted for the pros.”he smiled.  Just  like any Chicago boy, he was mesmerized when he watched the Bears play in the 1985 Super Bowl. “I believe that the greatest football player that ever played the game was Walter Payton”  His late mother ‘s advice directed Reliford to the engineering program at the University of Akron . This would allow him to major in engineering and also continue playing football. But fate showed him another option when he had to take an elective and decided to take a theatre class. “It was foreign to me at first. But then I remember playing Oprah show and being the class clown as a kid, then I just enjoyed myself because it challenged me.”he said.   This is when the wheels began to turn. Just missing the Bears draft, Richard decided to pursue a career in acting.

Just like any Chicago actor, Richard began his career in commercials and background work. His first real break came when he was on the set of “Prison Break.” He was upgraded from extra to speaking.  Appearing in plays and other parts in students films, he found his niche. Tired of the Chicago weather, he took his family and headed West.   Richard credits Gwen Hillier , an associate casting director on “General Hospital. for giving him his first break.  It is obvious that Richard has a great deal of respect for this lost form of art. A little intimidated at first, Richard made himself at home on the set of the infamous daytime drama. “They are like a family because they have been doing this for so long.  It is hard to become one of the guys, but the cast and crew made me feel like a part of the family.” he admitted shyly. One of Richard’s idols , Blair Underwood started his career on soaps. “I have a lot of respect for him because he has the one thing that I want in this business and that is longevity. Longevity and how he has made a difference in the community. ” he admitted proudly. When asked what his dream role would be, Richard grinned and said that it would be like the movie “True Lies.” “I want to be the hero that gets the girl and jumps off a burning building after the bombs go off.”  he laughed.

With the roles he has played on film and on stage, Richard has worked with some incredible performers like Marla Gibbs and Loretta Devine.  One of these performances gave him a new best friend, Ernest Thomas. “He is my brother.” said Reliford.  Thomas is best remembered for the role of “Rog” on “What’s Happening”  “He owns that role” laughed Richard and told me that he hasn’t got much respect for actors that try to make people forget the role that made them famous. “You never want to alienate your fan base and I also realize how important social media is to an actor’s career.” he admitted. Richard has worked with a lot of actors who are known for such roles like Jackee and the great one himself , Bill Cosby.

It is obvious that Richard has found his place in Hollywood and he is definitely making waves.  His latest project was a movie called “Frat Brothers.”  It is about legacies that are pledging a different fraternity than their father did. This is a role that Richard had some experience with since he is Omega Psi Phi .  It is also obvious that Richard is also in this for the long haul. With business savvy and smoldering good looks, I predict this young man will indeed go far.

wpid-Screenshot_2013-12-28-19-04-17-1-1.png Here is Richard with actor Ernest Thomas. People will remember him for the role of “Rog” on seventies hit “What’s Happening.”

wpid-Screenshot_2013-12-28-19-04-00-1.png Here he is with legendary entertainer Loretta Devine.  She is one of the legends that he has worked with.

wpid-maxresdefault.jpg Here is a scene from his latest movie Frat Brothers  that was released in 2013.

 

 

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About chitownstarconnections

Melanie Christy is am actress/singer who came to Chicago to pursue her dreams of acting. Coming from a small town in Ohio she has been enjoying the things that city life has to offer like great cuisine from all parts of the globe, parties with great people including celebrities, gorgeous fashions and of course fun! Follow her, read her blog and learn about all the amazing adventures you can be a part of throughout Chicagoland! Jennifer Hedrick is the photographer and techie for our blogs. She was born and raised here in Chicago. Her love of photography started when she was a child. She has photographed many celebs, events, fashion shows and more. She also considers herself a bit of a foodie and loves food porn. Her other loves include her nieces and nephews, animals and the shows Castle, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.
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