A Picture of Grace with Olivia Ritchie
Olivia Ritchie is as thoughtful as the character she portrays in the period piece Chasing Grace. We had a chance to catch up with Olivia in between her busy schedule. Olivia’s passion for her craft is palpable. It’s evident in the way she steals scenes on screen as well as how she draws your attention with her natural poise off screen. We talk about shooting in Hawaii, working with A-list actors and the twin you never new she had.
Tell me a bit about your background, and how you got into acting?
I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago, Illinois where I went to a private school until eighth grade. In sixth grade I played Lucy in A Charlie Brown Christmas. I knew at that moment that I had to continue acting. I was then homeschooled all of high school, and that’s when I decided to pursue acting as a career! My family moved to Vancouver, B.C. my freshman year of high school, and that’s when I began training in tv/film/voiceover acting - which is when I truly fell in love with the craft.
Tell me a bit about the show, what are you most excited about?
The movie is set in 1920s Hawaii during an age of segregation. It follows the story of an orphan boy of mixed race who starts to work for the new village doctor by delivering medicine to the coffee pickers in the mountains. On one of his errands, he meets Grace, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, and their forbidden love story starts to unfold.
I love that this film is family friendly! It’s been really special for me to see how it’s impacted families who have gone through adoption. This film is truly a celebration of life and I hope that it will continue to encourage people!
How is it playing your character with the rest of the cast?
My character had such a contrast compared to the rest of the cast. Grace is soft spoken and doesn’t have much of a voice. She lives in a time of segregation, racism, adoption, forbidden love, etc. Because we were dealing with so many important themes and relevant issues in this film, it was nice to have conversations with the other actors on what it meant to us and to our characters. It was important for me to understand the weight of what each character was going through in our story.
What was the biggest benefit of shooting Running From Grace completely in Hawaii?
I think one of the biggest benefits was the natural beauty of the island. Sometimes I would go sit by myself or with some other cast mates and watch the sunset right before we would go film. This definitely evoked certain emotions with my character. I had plenty of time to see and explore the island when I wasn't on set. It was interesting because I felt like I got to see what Grace was missing. It furthered my curiosity and intrigue with the character of Jo as well. It’s so easy to fall in love with Hawaii and I think that definitely added to the forbidden love story.
How was the experience working with such seasoned cast members like Matt Dillon and Jim Caviezel?
They were absolutely amazing. As a young artist, it was an incredible experience to be surrounded by actors who have such established careers. It challenged me in the best way possible. Jim and Matt taught me so much about acting both on and off set. I just loved watching them work! They both gave me such great advice that has shaped how I view this craft. They taught me a lot about how to be a disciplined actor and how to take care of the other actors around me. It was such a privilege to work with this wonderful cast!
Who/ what inspires you? Why?
There are quite a bit of artists in this field that inspire me, but I think the person that inspires me the most is my mom. She has taught me the most about life. My mom has taught me to love endlessly, pursue relentlessly, forgive, bless, serve others, and to be humble. This has helped me in a career that can sometimes feel so self focused. She constantly reminds me of what I should value and prioritize in my life.
What are you up to when you're not acting?
I’m super into health and fitness! I’m always setting new goals and trying to challenge myself physically. I also love music. I’m working on my first project in music right now that I’m very excited about. My other hobbies include dance, horseback riding, rollerblading, ice skating, and hanging out with my family and friends.
What's one fact people might not know about you?
I have a twin brother! He is super cool, crazy talented, and has amazing long hair.
What advice would you give to a talented, driven actor who’s just starting their career?
I would tell them to be patient! Acting can be a frustrating career. It gets even harder if we are always worrying about what will happen next, or the next job we are going to get. It’s important to continue working hard, but to also enjoy and be content with where you are at. It’s important to remind yourself why you love the craft so you don't get lost in everything else that surrounds it.
Can you share the biggest obstacle you've faced in your career, and how you overcame it?
I moved to LA after working on Running For Grace and that was a huge transition. It was tricky navigating the industry here compared to where I lived before. I had to learn to deal with everything surrounding a career in acting that isn't acting. So many elements seemed out of my control. I’m still learning a lot, but I have started to enjoy the whole process.
What’s your process for preparing for a new role?
I truly focus on doing as much of the homework as possible. I need as much context as I can get about my character. It’s important for me to understand their background, every relationship, and what their status is. Then, I focus on getting that character into my body. I do a lot of physical work!
Are there any routines or habits you practice to approach playing a new character?
I listen to a lot of music. I make playlists of songs that I think my character would listen to.
What qualities do you think make a great actor?
I think that a great actor has to have a willingness to be present, a certain level of vulnerability, a passion for storytelling, and be able to collaborate and create art with those around you.
Are there any other projects you're involved in or looking forward to, besides what you’re working on now?
I’m excited about a film I’m shooting fairly soon! I’m also working on a music project! I've always loved singing, but I've never ventured into making my own original music. I’m so excited to create and work with other musicians!
Talent: Olivia Ritchie x Portrait PR
Photographer: Leslie Alejandro
Article by: David Karuhije
Photo Assist: Arsen Vasquez
Hair and Makeup: Olaf Derlig for Exclusive Artists using Kavyn Aucion and Leonor Greyl Paris
Stylist: Gabriel Langenbrunner