After years of playing “America’s favorite son,” as Robert
Ri’chard puts it, the 32-year-old actor is all grown up -- and taking it off in
the new all-male stripper drama, Chocolate City.
Co-starring Tyson Beckford, Vivica A. Fox, and Ginuwine -- yes
the ‘90s R&B singer responsible for the hit, “Pony” -- the film tells the
story of young dancer (Ri’chard) who joins the male revue, quickly becoming the
ire of the crew’s oldest performer (Beckford). The new film -- which Ri’chard
says is “one of the best decisions of his life” -- shines a new light on the
actor, who many fans may know from Coach Carter, House of Wax, or
his short tenure on The Vampire Diaries.
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Ahead of Chocolate City’s release, Ri’chard shares
his thoughts with ETonline about not getting passed by (movie) lightening twice,
what’s kept him out of the public eye the past few years, and shedding his
On the eight-year project that’s kept him out of the
I’ve been making a film that’s been taking eight years to
make with some of my best work. It just hasn’t manifested to the public yet, as
far as being in theaters. But I’ve been working the entire time. I’ve been in
North Carolina with Dan Pritzker doing Bolden!, a biopic on Buddy
Bolden, who invented jazz music. I play this awesome French clarinet player
named George Baquet… It’s literally like making Avatar. Everything is to
Why he signed up for the stripper film, which similarly
to Magic Mike sees a lot of the cast shedding it all in front of the
I’m going to be so honest with you. Ten years ago, I went
out for a movie I wanted it so bad -- this drama -- and this script came across
my desk. The script was called “Stomp the Yard” and they were like, “It’s about
stepping.” “Stepping? That doesn’t sound that cool.” And then Stomp the Yard
blew up and became an urban hit. So when the phone call came about doing a
stripper movie, my gut reactions was “No way! I’m not doing a stripper movie.”
But then I thought, “Don’t make that same mistake again. God is giving you a
second chance.” [Laughs.] So I say yes and I answer the phone call at 2
o’clock in the morning -- I was living on the East Coast at the time -- and by 7 a.m.
I was on a flight to Los Angeles.