This article is the second part of an interview:
Richard Pryor, Jr. reminisces about his famous father and films at BAM
Examiner Dorri Olds: Before the doctors were able to revive you did you have a white light experience?
Richard Pryor, Jr.: Not a white light thing but I did have a weird experience where I was looking down on the nurses watching them pump my heart and I could see them doing compressions on my chest like it was an aerial view. I went through another tough period when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I tried to kill myself with an overdose on pills.
Were you and your mother very close?
Yes, she was my rock and I didn’t think I could handle losing her. A friend found me and got me dressed and put me in a car to go to the hospital. In the car I stopped breathing so my friend stopped the car to call 911. It was weird but there just happened to be a couple of EMT workers right there in the parking lot so they got me to the hospital where I was put into ICU.
Is your mom still alive?
No, she died in 2003.
It’s a miracle you’re still alive. Have you ever thought about writing a book?
I’m in the process of writing a memoir. I can’t work on it all the time, though. I have to take breaks.
Because it’s too painful. There are a lot of emotions. Memories of wanting to be a part of and feeling like you’re not. Just wanting to fit in. I’ve learned that life really comes down to acceptance. A lot of my turmoil came from trying to have acceptance for my dad. A lot of my drug abuse was my own naïve way of trying to be closer to him. He was a partier so I thought if I were like him, we could be close.
It’s great to see that you are happy and healthy and quick to smile. Can you talk about your current projects?
Yes. You know, I used to be so uncomfortable using my last name. People have often wanted to be friends with me because of my dad. If I’m introduced as Richard, people are like, “Oh hi, so what.” As soon as they hear my last name they give a totally different reaction. But now I’ve found a cause that I’m happy to lend my name to. Ever since I attended a Bideawee event with Karen Biehl and Matt Wayne, I have become so interested in animal causes. I’ve had the most fantastic, fabulous and exhilarating week working with animals. I was a participant at the “New York Pet Fashion Show.” The next night, I was one of the judges at Roberto Negrin’s, “NYC Doggies and Tiaras Pageant 2013.” I am fairly new to this world of animal rescue and fundraisers and I love it. Being in the presence of the incredible love people have for their dogs takes my breath away. Their dogs are their family and it’s beautiful to see the unconditional love that dogs show their owners.
Was it difficult to be a judge and choose between all of the adorable dogs?
It was extremely hard to judge. All different types of dogs from Pekinese to big Ledenbergers and all in their elaborate costumes. The talent portion wasn’t as difficult because some of the dogs were like, “I don’t feel like doing this” so they didn’t even perform. Like the Chihuahua that was supposed to play the piano but wouldn’t.
What else is happening these days?
Did you have to try out for the part?
I didn’t because I’ve worked on a SAG web series recently with the producer of the play. The series was “3 Squares.” Another project is the revamping of a TV pilot called “Pryor Knowledge.” It’s fiction but it’s about me as an actor with the trials and tribulations of being a “son of.” In the show I’m way more important in my mind than I am in real life. I have a crazy alcoholic manager who used to manage my dad. There’s a neurotic manager, a ditzy blond, and a PR person whose only client was Jesus Christ. I also did a pilot a year ago called “Lizards” about lounge lizards.
What about your singing? You have such a beautiful voice.
Thanks! Yeah, I perform mostly R&B and Jazz. My musical director is Bill Gulino, who was the music director for The Platters and for NBC. He plays piano in my shows. During the day I work for the New York Grant Company. They give grants for revitalization programs. Economic incentives for businesses to go green. The owner and CEO is an attorney named Ann Kayman who has done a lot of good things here within New York City. My Dad would be proud if he could see me now.
Tues, Feb. 19: 1 ticket pays for both films. "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings" is playing at 5:30pm and 9:30pm. "Bustin' Loose" is at 7:40pm.
Wed, Feb. 20, 1 ticket pays for both films. "Brewster's Millions" is at 5:30pm and 9:30pm. "Which Way Is Up?" is at 7:25pm.
Thurs, Feb. 21: 1 ticket pays for both films. "Richard Pryor: Here and Now" is at 5:30pm and 9:30pm. "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling" is at 7:15pm.