Interview with Olivia Ritchie | Living with Greater Purpose

A world of possibilities opens up for us when we firmly believe that each action we do have a greater purpose. An inspired action coupled with good intention brings joy, happiness and the desire to experience more of that. 

The young rising star Olivia Ritchie, who can be seen shining as Grace in a recently released film “Running for Grace,” directed by David Cunningham and filmed entirely in Hawaii reveals: 

“There’s something so special to me about being able to tell someone else’s story that deserves to be told. Advocating for a character and giving them a voice brings me so much joy! It feels like I get to be a part of something bigger than myself.


Introduction

  • Please introduce yourself briefly. Who, in your own words, is Olivia Ritchie?

My name is Olivia Ritchie. I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago and am now a midwestern girl living in LA! Acting is my main passion.  I am a lover of film, music, dance, and horses, among other things. God comes first in my life and my family comes second!

  • How and when you felt inspired to become an actress?

I’ve wanted to be an actress ever since I was in my first play at five years old. I continued to do theatre growing up, and then I started getting into film in middle school. To be honest, there was never a time in my life where I didn’t want to be an actress. I moved to Vancouver, BC when I was fifteen years old and that is when I started training in film and tv. I just fell in love with the craft! I had such amazing coaches that were a formative part of my decision to pursue this as a career.

Entertainment Industry

  • How do envision your opportunities as a young rising star in the entertainment industry?

I’m so excited about all of the potential opportunities there are in this industry! I hope that there will be a variety of roles for me to play. The industry is evolving and I think there will be more leading roles for women, so I’m excited about that aspect as well. I’ve learned to be content with the projects that I get to do and to enjoy my craft; however, there are other actresses’ careers that I admire and want to emulate.

  • You portray Grace in the recently released film “Running for Grace” which was filmed entirely in Hawaii. Do you think that more professionals are starting to break the stereotypes of how and where it’s possible to create a great film? If so, please elaborate.

Yes! Our director David Cunningham is a good example of this! Not only does he use Hawaii as a beautiful location to film, but he’s also producing and creating the content all on the big island! Post-production for Running For Grace was all done in Hawaii!

It’s just such a great time to be in the creative field because there are so many new outlets for making film and tv. We used to only see things that were made through the “Hollywood system”, but now we are finding other ways to make and distribute the film. Because of this, we are seeing different types of productions, whether it’s a blockbuster movie, Netflix original, or even made from Youtube. This creates more opportunities for artists and gives us a wider perspective, with fewer limitations on how and where we can create.

Photography by Bjoern Kommerell

Acting | Running for Grace

  • How was the process of auditioning for the role of Grace and what did you feel when you first read the script?

The process was different than any other auditions I previously had. I was living in Chicago when I got the audition, so we started with a self-tape. I didn’t hear back for a while, so I thought it was just fizzling out. Then I got a call that the director wanted to give me some notes and tape the audition again! Suddenly everything started to speed up! I flew to LA to do a chemistry read with Ryan, who plays Jo. Then we got on Skype to do a couple scenes for the director and producer who were at the studio in Hawaii.

The first time I read the script, I instantly felt connected to it. I was drawn to the character of Grace because we were the same age and I felt like I had a lot of similar personality traits to her. Then, reflecting on the script as a whole, I loved the relevance it still carries. Although it deals with racism and rejection in the 1920s, we are still dealing with the same issues today.

  • “Running for Grace” is set in the 1920s during an age of segregation, telling the story of a young orphan boy named Jo (Ryan Potter), half Japanese and half white, who fell in love with the plantation owner’s daughter Grace. What is the most significant message behind this story?

This story deals with a lot of issues such as segregation, racism, adoption, forbidden love, etc. I hope that people can come away from this story with more compassion and sensitivity to those who are still facing these struggles. However, this is also a story of redemption. It is a celebration of life and truly shows us the sacrifices we make for love. 

  • What does resonate most between you and your character Grace?

What resonated most with me about Grace was her strength. She’s living in a time where she doesn’t get a say about who she can love or how she gets to live her life. Through her journey, she is discovering that she does have a voice and she eventually chooses to stand up to her family in regards to Jo, despite the potential consequences.

  • How would you describe your experience of working with acclaimed director David Cunningham and such a fantastic cast – Jim Caviezel, Matt Dillon, Ryan Potter among others?

I had such an amazing experience working with a cast and crew that have such established careers! As an artist, it’s so helpful to be around other experienced people in the industry. David made the process such a positive experience. He gave me good direction and would always be willing to listen to my thoughts on my character. Everyone challenged me and helped me the whole way through. It was also so beneficial to sit down and talk to them off set. They gave me advice that has really shaped how I view this craft. Jim taught me a lot about what it means to be a disciplined actor and tools I can use to stay focused on set. Matt demonstrated how I can care for the other actors around me while still being aware of my work. And of course, I had a blast working with Ryan! He showed such kindness and was always in good spirits, even at 4 am during an all-night shoot!

  • What emotions have evoked in you filming “Running for Grace” in such a beautiful natural setting in Hawaii and how those have influenced your acting during the production?

The setting definitely played a big role in influencing the scenes. For example, we were about to shoot one of the heavier scenes with Jo and Grace. Ryan and I just sat on the porch of the house, listened to music, and watched the sunset over the water. This helped prepare us for the scene we were about to shoot. There was also a day that I didn’t have to work, but I wanted to go on set and watch Ryan shoot some scenes. They were shooting in Hilo, which definitely has more of the jungle feel. This gave me a deeper understanding into Grace’s curiosity with the island. She hasn’t gotten a chance to explore and is living vicariously through Jo’s experiences. Then we shot the wedding scene on a ranch in Kona. We had to go off-roading to get there, which was incredible. There was wildlife running around and everything was so green. It was beautiful. I kept having to remind myself this was real life. I hope they continue to make more movies in Hawaii because there’s truly no place like it. From the beauty of the volcanoes to the wildlife, to the ocean, to the people and culture—so many stories could be told here.

  • Did you have a moment during the filming where you had a new revelation that contributed to your growth as a human being? If so, please explain.

Yes! I have learned a lot about the power of adoption from this film. Doc sacrifices a lot to adopt Jo and give him a sense of belonging and worth. It reminded me that our worth and value as humans isn’t defined by others. I love that this film celebrates the life of a boy that didn’t even have a name, but through adoption, gives him a life and a future. It gives him a chance to be with the girl he loves and to continue to follow in Doc’s footsteps. It not only transformed his life but also the community around him.

  • What other projects you are working on now?

I’m super excited about a film that I’ll be working on in November! I haven’t done anything like it before, so I’m really looking forward to it. The film will be announced pretty soon!

  • What is your biggest desire at this moment and how do you envision your future as an actress?

My biggest desire at the moment is to work on an action film that requires a lot of physical movement. I’ve been working with a trainer for a while now to get stronger because I want the ability to take on a role like that if it ever came along! I also want to do work that can impact people in the best ways possible. I want to start new conversations and tell stories that I think are necessary to tell. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that I’ve been given so far and can’t wait to see what’s next.

Photography by Bjoern Kommerell

Good Soul

  • Are you involved in any charity organization or humanitarian cause you would like to mention?

I’ve been involved with Kids Alive since I was in middle school. Kids Alive is a Christian program where you can sponsor an orphan from another country. Through sponsorship, they provide these kids with shelter, holistic care, and education. It is an amazing ministry!  My family has sponsored the same girl for over 10 years and despite any hardship, she was going through, she would always write letters asking about my life and writing encouraging verses for me. She was so selfless and was a ministry to me as well!

Life

  • Do you have any practice when you want to reconnect with yourself?

Yeah! Fitness has always been extremely important to me. It gives me time to focus on myself and my body. It gives me a sense of awareness that sometimes I miss when I’m super busy.

Close Up

  • The spirit of The Hedonist Magazine is “The Essence of a Joyful Living.” How does Joy during the creative process affect your own experience and in consequence the final manifestation of your actions?

There’s something so special to me about being able to tell someone else’s story that deserves to be told. Advocating for a character and giving them a voice brings me so much joy! It feels like I get to be a part of something bigger than myself. I try to work hard during the process of filming to be present and engaged with everything that’s going on around me. Then at the end when the project is complete, it’s a very surreal feeling to look at the cast and crew and think, “We did this together.” I’ve never experienced anything like it.

  • When you hear: “You can be, do and have anything you want,” words by Abraham Hicks.  What is your take on such a statement?

This is a fun quote! I love the idea of working hard enough, pushing myself and breaking boundaries to get me to where I want to go. If I thought my goals weren’t realistic, I wouldn’t be pursuing this career. However, accomplishments won’t always matter. I believe what matters is the person we are. How we treat people. How we serve. How we build each other up.


Olivia Anne Ritchie
Photography by Bjoern Kommerell