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Meet Antoinette Ricchio

Today we’d like to introduce you to Antoinette Ricchio.

Antoinette, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Throughout college, I heard a lot of stories about how my peers got into this industry — anything from family connections to the first purchase of a camera, a school play and everything in between, and I always sat there knowing I couldn’t pinpoint a specific moment in my life that led me here. I’ve now come to realize how much my family informed and developed my artistic voice growing up. We didn’t have a lot, but we had each other and we had tradition. Every Sunday night we’d sit around the kitchen table for hours on end, telling one another stories, exchanging memories and inevitably laughing until everyone went home. It was there, around the table, that I came to love and understand the power of a good story.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I was conflicted. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, or really I should say, I hadn’t yet given myself the permission to do what I wanted to do with my life. Even though I had convinced my parents and everyone around me that I was going to study speech pathology, I stayed up late each night researching acting conservatory programs. After applying and auditioning online, I was admitted to the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts for their summer intensive. Reluctantly, my parents agreed to let me go, and I am forever grateful they did because that summer taught me so much. In addition to honing my craft and studying with wonderful professors, I came back ready to apply to colleges with the confidence to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

Studying acting and screenwriting at the University of Southern California served me greatly. College was transformational in showing me how much I didn’t know. It was there that I started to deeply explore my artistry and create a work ethic with longevity.

USC challenged me to treat my passions as crafts with goals and structure instead of fleeting dreams with no direction. Junior year I intensified my training in both acting and writing and participated in several projects that provided me with invaluable lessons. After two mainstage shows, I earned the John Blakenchip/William C. White award for outstanding contribution in acting from USC’s School of Dramatic Arts. It was an incredibly proud moment for me and my family and commemorated my time at USC with hope and gratitude. More than an education, college gave me a community of people who I love, who inspire me to work hard and give me the encouragement to continue on through every obstacle.

Graduating this past May was bittersweet to say the least. This is not the world my classmates and I thought we’d graduate into, but I think that’s okay. There’s a buffer period for us, one I’ve been using for writing and reflection, but it will pass. We will experience a new world, God willing a better one, and when it opens up again, I will be ready for it. In the meantime, I’m job hunting in development, working freelance and cooking a lot!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
For the most part, I think it’s been a smooth road, not because it was always easy but because it was always forward-moving. The most difficult challenge I’ve navigated recently was being a first-generation college student. I quickly learned that in order to get things made, you often need a lot of connections and an ample source of money, neither of which I had coming into USC. Some of my friends were putting up thousands of dollars of their own money to make short films and it was overwhelming. Sometimes I just felt behind not having any connection to the industry– not a family member, or a family friend or my dad’s partner’s sister-in-law or anything like that– but I think as I grew and formed my own network, those anxieties subsided. I surrounded myself with people who put me to work on their sets and took the time to teach me things I didn’t know. I saw friends raise money and apply for grants to fund their films. Everything just started to feel brighter and more possible because I had amazing people in my ear telling me I could do it.

Learning the technical skills of the film industry is one thing, but it’s not everything. The people I do it with are everything. For me, the hardest part of pursuing writing and acting in Los Angeles wasn’t the uncertainty or the glimpses of hardship, it was leaving my family. I knew committing to USC meant I was also committing to a life that asked me to be away from them. That’s the reality for a lot of my friends too. I am fortunate everyday to have my friends in LA, the people who keep me going and carry me through any struggle I’m met with. Having that tribe, that family in this town is so important. I don’t know if I could be here doing this without them.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
In a lot of ways, my career is just getting started. I’m newly out of school and have only done a couple of things professionally, so I consciously try to refrain from limiting myself. My focus mainly includes acting and writing, although I do anything and everything behind the scenes on set, from PA to script supervise to assist producers- I will do whatever is needed.

I think there are probably things about myself I haven’t even discovered yet, which is both exciting and terrifying. I recently started doing stand-up which has become an unexpected joy in my life and I plan to continue it when comedy clubs reopen. I am currently polishing two pilots and a feature which is consuming a lot of my artistic energy and hope to be done with those before the year is over.

I’m proud to be an artist who identifies as a forever student. There is always more to learn. There are always ways to grow. I think if there was ever a time that exemplified that it would be now. I hope to still be here, learning well into adulthood and helping the next generation come into a world and an industry where everyone’s stories are showcased and celebrated for their humanity. Part of having a voice in this industry is creating spaces for people who have been denied that opportunity. If I’m meant to be a part of this industry, I believe it’s in service to others.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
For me, I think success is about impact. I don’t think the most successful people have the most money or trophies or anything tangible like that, but they have used whatever life has given them to change something, to make something better or improve the quality of someone else’s life. Everyone will measure success differently and the concept of success is often used to measure worth of an individual or a group and I’m not sure if that’s effective. I think people like to have things to “hold up” and show others they did something well, but there are also a lot of people doing really amazing things who may never achieve any sort of recognition or public approval.

This is not to say I think recognition is a bad thing and I don’t think people should be ashamed of wanting recognition for doing something they put a lot of time and effort into- I just think there may be a trap in electing certain people as the gatekeepers of success. Who is judging this and choosing to elevate some people over others? Do we have to agree with them? What is their opinion worth and what is it based on? These are the kinds of critical questions we must ask to diligently hold the systems we work for to some standard of accountability. No matter what the public may say or not say, anyone who has dedicated their life to making their small patch of the world a better place is successful to me.

Contact Info:

  • Email: antoinette.ricchio@gmail.com
  • Instagram: antoinette_ricchio

Image Credit:
Duanduan Hsieh, Karine Bagoumian, Eric Pumphrey, Jordan Fox, Reese Brucker, Michael Rueter, Reza Allah-Bakhshi, Craig Schwartz

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