When it comes to landing a role on the small or big screen, an actor can easily get typecast. Which likely explains why for years, Rick Younger has put his hands in a select grab- bag of roles. “All I can say is that it’s been a blessing,” says Younger. His blessings tend to flow in a way only someone glued to their dream can understand. “Everything that’s mine, I’m going to get,” he adds.
Next summer, you can catch him in movie theaters sharing the screen with a cast of industry heavyweights, like Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, in “Morning Glory”. The movie is about a morning news show, sorting out creative ways to boost ratings. Younger plays a producer. “I was told they were looking for people who were funny and good with improvisation,” says Younger.
Younger was apparently more than just good. After a month of auditions and a three-month waiting period, he beat out the competition. “I was afraid to really tell a lot of people because you have to wait until the movie comes out and hope all your lines or at least two of your lines make it in, so you don’t look crazy to your friends,” says Younger.
The stand-up comedian used a unique experience to cross into the film industry. His self-produced documentary, “Souled Out Comedy” has been selected for the upcoming Mid-Atlantic Black Film Festival. The film chronicles the success of six African-American comedians, including Younger, who partnered together out of frustration and necessity to find steady work in New York. “A lot of black comedians weren’t getting work. We decided to put together a show. I wanted to find a group that could entertain any audience and “Souled Out Comedy” was born,” says Younger.
If you catch Younger at a comedy club, there’s something you’ll pick up instantly. Younger jokes about just about every aspect of life and makes audiences laugh hysterically. The best part, he does it without a vulgar, racially charged or sexually explicit delivery. It was the success of the “Souled Out Comedy” tour in New York, that opened doors for Younger in the world of television commercials. Chances are you’ve seen him sporting a tailored Burlington Coat Factory suit, driving a Chevy vehicle or encouraging you to switch to Verizon. It wasn’t long after commercial spots that Younger began appearing in episodes of “Law & Order”. “I have a supreme belief in my talent. God puts something in all of us that we are capable of doing, if we do the work,” says Younger.
Recently, independent film lovers at the Roxbury Film Festival got a glimpse at Younger’s talent as a jazz musician in “Whistle & Snap”. In it, Younger plays a very successful musician, who’s preparing for his induction into the Jazz Hall of Fame. “I keep seeing like Tyler Perry do it and I said if they can do it, I can do it. You just can’t take no for an answer,” says Younger. "Whistle & Snap" is a project under the umbrella of Younger Child Productions. He co-owns the company with his wife, Vanessa Shealy. “The reviews of the film were great. People were very surprised that it wasn’t your stereotypical black comedy film,” says Younger.
Pulling the curtain back on stereotypes and adding a successful spin on the problem, is nothing new to the self-proclaimed Renaissance Man. His childhood dream was to become an award-winning singer. However, when he booked time in studios with producers, industry insiders encouraged Younger to put a twist on his sound. “They wanted me to sound more like male singers from groups like Jodeci and H-town,” says Younger.
Ironically, the sound that was not cookie-cutter music to the ears of some music producers was perfect for Broadway. Early on in his career, Younger auditioned and got a role as a chorus singer in the Broadway hit musical“Rent”. “I’d never seen the show. I remembered all the rage about “Rent”. The cast was diverse and I thought to myself, there’s a play that has a part for me,” he adds.
In his own way and in just about every show, Younger returns to his childhood dream. As he crisscrosses comedy clubs across the country, he tosses in his version of a number of popular tunes, while doing his stand-up routine. However, his most visible role may be Younger’s appearances on the “Today” show. He’s a member of the “Guys Tell All” panel. The four men offer tips to women, regarding how men generically think, when it comes to relationships. “I like being on the show. It gives me a chance to be myself,” says Younger.
As for his future, he’s a funny man serious about his success. Younger points to the accomplishments of comedians like Damon Wayans, Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin as fuel for his drive toward the big prize, an Oscar. If “Morning Glory” opens as many doors for Younger, as smaller opportunities have so far, the big break just may get significantly less bumpy for him.
Rick Younger’s story is part of “Acting Up”, a series of motivational and informative features posted on www.newsheels.blogspot.com that will highlight the success, struggles and sacrifices made by people breaking into the entertainment industry.
Click on one of the following links to view Rick Younger's work;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQmeSkePAE8, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-9--brqEBU or follow Rick Younger at www.rickyounger.blogspot.com.