While Ryan Richmond initially pursued acting as a kid, as he grew older, he realized his passion ultimately resided on the opposite side of the camera.

The Washington, D.C. native started off studying photography at New York University, but it wasn’t long before he realized that this subject would serve as a stepping stone for other interests.

“I kept evolving from photography to cinematography and into directing,” Richmond told the AFRO in a recent interview. “I was so close to seeing stories being told that I just made that transition to try to tell stories myself.”

Thus, his feature directorial debut was born.

Richmond’s Money Matters is a moving drama that explores the life of a teenage girl’s path to self discovery. Set in the District, this independent film is a gritty, no-holds-barred account of the trials and tribulations of a Black girl’s “coming of age” in the streets.

According to Richmond, the story developed from an earlier piece he wrote while in film school.

“It initially came from this concept of two very different people from different walks of life that met in some way and realized that they were forever connected,” Richmond said. “ an older, White gentleman that was a priest and this younger Black female. Between the two, the younger female was much more interesting to me at the time, I really hadn’t seen too many films that explored young, Black females as protagonists.”

He added that the 2006 drama Akeelah and the Bee was the only film at the time that dealt with the issues of a young African-American girl. But the subject matter of that film wasn’t exactly what he wanted to explore.

“That wasn’t gritty and it wasn’t like many of the stories I heard growing up,” Richmond said. “I wanted to show the story of environment through innocent eyes. Young people deal with real issues early on in life and I thought this would be a great way to explore that environment and that culture in a way that hadn’t really been touched on before.”

Following its release, the film received much critical acclaim. On Sept. 18, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation showcased the film at their Annual Legislative Conference.

The success of Money Matters solidifies Richmond’s inclusion in the growing film scene in the District. The region is now the home to a rising list of actors, screenwriters and filmmakers and it has recently been selected as a stop on the Organization of Black Screenwriters Tour in October.

“I think it’s great,” Richmond said, speaking on the city’s emerging film scene. “I’m starting to see a change in people’s interest in the city. Because of the excitement, it makes it possible to grow while being here as opposed to making a name for yourself and coming back, which seems to have been the normal pattern before. So, that’s good to know, because I may plan to leave for a while but it feels good to know that you necessarily don’t have to leave in order to be successful.”

For more information on “Money Matters,” visit www.moneymattersmovie.com.

Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor