We had the good fortune of connecting with Christopher E. Richardson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Christopher E., can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from Stuttgart, Germany with my dad being a retired US Army Veteran and my mom being a model, seamstress and administrator from Jamaica. To say that our household was rooted in discipline would be like landing on the sun and calling it warm. My brother and I definitely knew what it was like to be kids and play but there was structure and an order to our lives. I feel that from my mother’s womb, I was destined to clash with anything authoritative that was based in tradition. Being brought up in and around structure, disciplined approaches to going about life and everything having order to it all but forced me to question the origin of those things. With it never being about out right defiance or insubordination, I just don’t gel with doing things that everyone else does or says has to be done. My honest and genuine reaction to tradition, be it an internal thought, a verbal response or a change in my body language, is a simple “why?”. Growing up, I chalked it up to and believed I was rude, insubordinate and disruptive because that’s how I was labeled by the majority. As an adult, I now completely understand my vantage point and purpose in life. It is to show that you can be you and still be a magnificent, beautiful, unique and productive piece of this larger puzzle called life. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in tradition and you will see me doing certain things in accordance with that. When you get to know me or take a step back and look at those situations as a whole you will see that I am doing something differently. What is exciting to me, as an adult, is that I don’t actively look to appease anyone any longer. Just being a human being who demonstrates common courtesy, common sense, common decency and empathy towards others is appeasing all on its own. I do however still inject structure into myself and daily tasks which culminates in a “work now play later” attitude. When it’s time to work, or when those lights and camera turn on, it’s all business for me and the task at hand will be completed. But as soon as they turn off, the job is done or I see that I can be a little funny while working, then let’s do just that. What exudes out of me is genuine and I understand that I’m not trying to be a distraction. In these moments when I naturally do something that is defined by society as ‘non-traditional’, it reassures me that I’m doing what I was put in this world to do and inspire others to do. It’s in those moments that I am being me and you are being you and life is truly being lived.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What sets me apart is that I approach anything I do as wanting no one to be actively set apart. I approach being an actor, model and dancer with the mindset and understanding that I am very blessed and privileged to be in the position to entertain and inspire audiences. In the entertainment industry, it’s more common to hear a ‘no’ than a ‘yes’. Understanding that is what motivates me to grasp hold of the times I do hear that ‘yes’ and bring myself as an individual that can seamlessly be a part of whatever project it is. There are things that naturally set me apart, be it my height, build, voice and current mohawk hairstyle. Apart from the mohawk, those are things I can’t and don’t put too much effort into trying to control. What truly sets me apart from the pack, is that the desire for the pack to succeed, is genuine from me. If you are on set with me, I always find myself talking to the cast and crew as it is all one unit, one experience, one common goal to me. Often times it is very easy to look at being an entertainer as just a job. Leaving the possibility open to look and treat people as forgettable steps on a ladder. As with going up a ladder, you want those same steps to be there and just as sturdy on the way up, as you will want them to be on the way down. So for me, it’s natural, but overall it’s just easier to treat everyone and every opportunity as a needed step in your journey. Not to be confused with taking those steps along with you on your journey as we all know there are things that are not meant to be a part of us or our journey.
I am most proud of founding my production company, Kathenas Entertainment and a men’s mental health resource website, men-tallyaware.com. With Kathenas, it allows me to be a complete and free creative mind in producing and cultivating content. I am in the position to input my voice, stories and point of view into whatever conversation or genre and bring along those that feel they want the same for themselves as well. Men-tallyaware.com holds a special place in my mind, body and soul as someone who owes a great deal of who they are to seeing a therapist. Being able to put a resourceful website out there for men who still don’t have the appropriate outlets, services and help, due in major part to the stigma surrounding what defines a man is something I can’t and won’t try to diminish by putting into a word. What I do know and feel is that this website is here to reach out and help.
I got to where I am professionally through keeping myself out of everyone else’s business and going about things the way life has me to. It was not an easy task as being here in NYC, smack in the middle of the hyper competitive acting, modeling and dancing industries you can’t help but look at what everyone else looks, sounds or moves like. I used to always roll my eyes when someone older would tell me to work wiser and not harder yet at the same time admonishing me for wasting my youthful years on wayward tasks or flimsy goals. To me that was so frustrating as how can a young person, be wise when they are still gaining knowledge. Now that I am on the older side of the average entertainer in these casting calls and auditions I embody that statement, working wiser and not harder. I overcome any and all situations where my genetics or physical abilities aren’t a perfect match for a project by imparting wisdom into the situation and using my genetics and physical abilities as the strengths that they are. Understanding that not every opportunity is meant for me and to trust that it truly is a different day and energy every time I’m blessed to wake up. That and I learned to love the person I am, the whole person.
I want people to know that you have to be, not can be, but you have to be the only person you can be in this world, you. There is a difference in that. When you tell yourself or others what they can be, I feel you pack in the option for feeling like a failure if you fall short of that feeling of being yourself or not even attempting it at all. It’s not so much an order or command as much as a charge to your very essence and life force that you are a real life person with a real life mission. So unless you aren’t real, you really only have the choice to be yourself. Not to try, but to just be you. I think we easily combine circumstances with our overall selves. In some instances where we know that it will actually detract from our own experience if we were to do what we actually want to do, so we don’t. Those are specific and unique situations. But from a wholistic approach, when you widen your scope of things, you see that even in those situations you did ‘you’ in some shape, form or fashion, just maybe not to the scale you would normally like to. I want to inspire people from my journey in life. My outlook going forward is fueled by being a survivor of rape, alcohol abuse, prescription medication abuse, suicide attempts, multiple arrests and prostitution, to name a few. I literally don’t have the time to not move forward and upward in all that I do and won’t look to make time for anything that isn’t moving in the direction I’m going. I want the same for you and everyone. I’ve been down before, I’ve looked to keep myself down before and I’ve tried to change my appearance. I know what it’s like to feel uninspired, feel as if the world would be the same without me in it and to feel like my past was too great of a hurdle to overcome. I’m here, because one, life has me here and two, life constantly reminds me that it’s not about me. Any and everything I go through is not for me, but for someone else and it’s not for me to question why, it’s just for me to understand that. And I stay ready each and everyday by positioning myself at the start line of whatever life has in store for me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First we have to go to Surreal Creamery and get ice cream mason jar! It is ridiculous what concoctions you can put together with all the toppings and flavors. After walking off all that sugar along the FDR waterfront we end up in front of the United Nations building, where the flags are hopefully still raised, and you can take in the thought that all world leaders convene in this one place from time to time. We are definitely going to Macy’s at Herald Square, cause I’m a Macy’s kid, so therefore you have to be one, if not temporarily. I like to go during odd or off peak hours because the sales associates have more time to be talkative and the other shopper’s have a different vibe as well. Walk past Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building. I will ride up to the top with you but will make a brief appearance on the observation deck for a quick selfie or two as while I’m not afraid of heights, I just get the willies if I’m just standing still being that high off the ground. We would get a slice or pie from Joe’s pizza and check out their wall of fame from all the people who’ve eaten there. Get a slice of cheesecake from Junior’s and while we sit and people watch the street performers. Have to stop by Domino Park in Williamsburg and walk that water front and through the neighborhood and make our way over to Barcade to play old school arcade games. Have to make our way to Roosevelt Island and ride the cable car to get there. Even though Manhattan is an island, when you get to Roosevelt Island you actually feel like you left NYC and traveled somewhere. Adriennes Pizzabar and Battery Park are a most to end a night as it’s great food and great views. Taking the Staten Island ferry to get a close up view of the Statue of Liberty and to say you’ve been to Staten Island. Strolling through Chinatown and seeing what kind of deals we can talk the salesperson into is a right of passage for one’s skills as a bonafide consumer. The new Little Island off the west side highway is a perfect segue into a night of bowling and music at Lucky Stripe. Going down to the World Trade Center and the accompanying museum is also a must to truly grasp the history, resilience, courage and importance of NYC as it is today. We would walk by the studios where they film the Wendy Williams, Late Show, Drew Barrymore Show and the Today Show to casually run into or be on camera with celebrities or noteworthy people. Walking through Central Park by the fountain will yield exciting performances ranging from roller skating, acrobatics, music, live painting or large bubbles. Making our way up to Harlem to see 125th Street and the Apollo. Before calling it a trip, we gotta get nachos from Taqueria Diana, although you’ll have to order your own as I’m probably not going to share :). Lastly, we will have to get around by subway and yellow cab to get a first hand experience of all the stories and pictures that make them famous.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Definitely want to shoutout my mother. We have had our ups and downs, those good ole formative teenage years :)! Through it all she has been a constant, unwavering presence that I knew would always be there when I needed her most and sometimes when I made up in my mind that I didn’t need her and can try it all on my own. Either way, she somehow always finds a way to be there. Also my family, immediate, extended and chosen, as they provided that perfect combination of tough love and steadily reminding me that I am someone who is loved and can do and be whatever I wanted.