ONE-WOMAN SHOWMANSHIP BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
Rain Pryor admits “my life work is providing for my family and it also takes me away from them.” The multi-talented daughter of comic legend Richard Pryor travels the globe extensively as an acclaimed actress, director, Jazz/Blues vocalist, comedienne, speaker and educator, so it should come as no surprise she finds herself “in the process” of striking that often-elusive balance between family and friends.
Pryor returned to New York City in April and shared a glimpse of what life was like growing up black and Jewish in the one-woman autobiographical show, “Fried Chicken and Latkes,” at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex. Off-Broadway audiences watched a fiery display of comic genius unfold as she portrayed her famous father and militant Jewish mother, along with her yenta maternal grandmother and paternal grandmother.
“I thought I created a drama. And then the audience laughed and I was like, ‘What? My life’s a comedy? Are you kidding me?” Pryor told NY1 in a recent interview.
All jokes aside, Pryor took a moment away from her busy schedule to talk about why she’s serious about finding a cure for multiple sclerosis (her father was diagnosed with MS in 1986) and other family matters in this exclusive with Tania Fuentez Media.
NOTE: Photo courtesy of Rain Pryor.
TFM: On your Web site, you say this is the year to transform, empower and inspire. How has that translated on stage in the award-winning one-woman show, “Fried Chicken and Latkes,” which just wrapped its off-Broadway run at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex. By the way, the show’s title is priceless …
RAIN: Well, I want my audience to walk away with a look inward and then transform them, into a new way to see race and the world.
TFM: Fans may remember your 1989 début on ABC’s sitcom “Head of the Class,” but you have an extensive and diverse professional resume, which includes recently being named Artistic Director of The Strand Theater in Baltimore. How does that feel? Can you share a few pointers for the comedic actress in training? When do you find time for family and friends?
RAIN: Being an AD is wonderful and filled with challenges. I am creating content that will provoke conversation and thought. For the comedic actress in training I tell them to be authentic. That humor is all about truth and our willingness to expose what that is to us. I am balancing my family and friends and it’s sometimes difficult. My life work is providing for my family and also takes me away from them. It’s never easy to be working all the time and then find time to make a decent meal, to have quality time with family and friends. So, I am in the process now.
TFM: Funniest thing you remember and cherish about your father, Richard Pryor? Did you ever wish for more time with him as a child? What helped heal a self-described strained relationship as an adult and eventually led to sharing that story in the book, “Jokes My Father Never Taught Me: Life, Love and Loss with Richard Pryor.”
RAIN: My daddy was an amazing artist. He couldn’t always be present and a genius. I learned to understand dad and to loved him for who he was. I lived with him growing up, at times. I spent more time with him as a child than as an adult. All I wish is that he were here now to see my glow!
TFM: Why is involvement with the National MS Society so important to you as an educator and advocate for curing multiple sclerosis?
RAIN: MS is a silent disease that without knowledge of treatments can cause the progression of the disease. Had my father received the best treatments (by the way, some weren’t available when he was first diagnosed), I would tell another story. We must find a cure and clear away the politics around medicines and cures.
TFM: For those who don’t know, you are a critically acclaimed Jazz/Blues vocalist. So, who are you usually listening to and who’s among your all-time favorites?
RAIN: I love Adele, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday … my list is long.
TFM: I am curious about your approach to teaching “Mindful Acting” classes. What does that involve and are most students receptive?
RAIN: Yes, my students rock! It is my goal to teach you how to be authentic and to take risk when approaching a role. When we are self-aware we can transmit authenticity/truth to our work. Acting is about truth. Making the audience believe and go with you on the character’s journey.