Pryor, a graduate of Peoria Heights High School, has relocated to Chicago for the time being for work opportunities.
“I just wrapped up a five-week stint in a play, ‘Lipstick Goes On Last.’ I don’t get back to Peoria very often,” Pryor said, referring to his father’s hometown where there is now a street named after him.
Pryor has been pursuing his dream of acting and performing in New York City since shortly after his father passed away in 2005.
Just as the acting roles line up for the son of the legend— recently completed film projects, upcoming movie roles, a web series and a planned tell-all book— his father’s work is being honored across all mediums of entertainment.
In May, Showtime television premiered a documentary about Richard Pryor’s life, “Omit The Logic,” that featured archived footage and interviews with the late comedian’s colleagues, family, ex-wives, friends and those comedians influenced by his work.
In June, Shout! Factory record label released a CD/DVD retrospective of Pryor’s live concert material “No Pryor Restraint: Life In Concert.”
SiriusXM also aired a three-day tribute to Pryor in June with live concerts and specials on the satellite radio station.
Also in the development stages is a big screen biopic of Pryor’s life story produced by Chris Rock and Adam Sandler with Marlon Wayans playing the iconic role.
Pryor said he is not sure why all of this focus on his father seems to be happening around the same time, but he loves hearing about his dad in the news again.
“I think the younger audience needs to hear about my father and what he gave to comedy over the years,” Pryor said.
Pryor added he has heard there are plans to do a follow-up documentary to “Omit The Logic.”
Many of today’s African American comedians cite Pryor as someone who broke ground and opened doors for them, such as Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, Dave Chappelle and Kevin Hart.
Pryor said his father has had a great influence on his acting career and it was probably something that was always in his DNA.
As a child, Pryor would introduce his father’s early standup performances during summers off of school.
“I work as he worked: humble. And never overacting,” Pryor said.
Pryor was in his 40s when he decided to commit to the craft full-time.
Previously, he had worked as a production associate (on “The Color Purple”), stand-up comedian, telecommunications, bartender, female impersonation, and was a minister in the 1990s.
“In comedy, especially on film, you need to just be your character and let it flow. Trying to make someone laugh ruins the flow in my opinion,” Pryor said.
Pryor said his favorite film in his father’s impressive list of roles— including “Lady Sings The Blues,” “Stir Crazy” “Car Wash” “The Wiz” and “The Toy”— is “Which Way Is Up?”
“Which Way Is Up?” is a 1977 film in which Pryor plays three roles.
“Of course, that is one of those you have to see in its entirety on DVD because on TV they have to remove so much of the dialogue for obvious reasons,” Pryor said with a laugh, referring to his father’s often colorful and expletive-filled speech.
Pryor said it is easy to keep striving with his stage and screen career as long as he stays true to his motto: just be yourself.
“I always wanted to perform. It just took me a moment to come out of my shell,” Pryor said.
For more information about Richard Pryor Jr. and his upcoming appearances, visit richardpryorjr.org.