How does a child star manage to avoid becoming a statistic? How does the daughter of a groundbreaking, world-reknowned comedian skip the rounds of reality TV with Dr. Drew and The Donald? Simple: she moves to the East Coast, falls in love, gets married, has a baby, and becomes the hardest working woman in show business.
Sitting at a crowded outdoor cafe in the Baltimore neighborhood that she calls home, Rain Pryor may also be the most accessible. A student with a camera slung over his shoulder asks if he can use the empty chair at the table she is sharing with a friend. She obliges with a smile.
Rain has lived and worked in Baltimore for more than five years. She has been a middle school drama instructor here, as well as teaching adults in her periodic acting classes held at Center Stage. She has continued working in film (see her in the role of Sarah Palin’s makeup stylist in the upcoming HBO drama Game Change) and stage, both in and out of town.
Not long after relocating to Charm City, she portrayed Baltimore’s own Billie Holliday during a world tour of the stage production. Yes, she sings, too. In the last year she has taken on another medium – stand-up comedy. A natural progression, one might think, but Rain herself is very aware of the enormous footsteps in which she walks. Indeed, the poster outside of the D.C. Improv during her February debut there included the text, “…daughter of Richard Pryor.” But Rain holds her own on the mic, and will be headlining at a comedy club in Albany in April.
To say that Rain is a woman of many talents would be an understatement. Recently, her love of the stage has taken, well… center stage. It has been announced that she will be succeeding Jayme Kilburn, founder of Baltimore’s Strand Theater, as The Strand’s Artistic Director.
On another local stage, Rain is currently in rehearsals at the University of Baltimore for The Exonerated, a play she is directing that focuses on real-life stories of persons wrongly convicted to death row. Then in April, Rain is off to New York to tell her fans and followers what it is really like to grow up as the daughter of an African-American celebrity father and a white Jewish mother, in the Broadway premiere of her multi-award winning one-woman show, Fried Chicken & Latkes. Then back to Baltimore to direct Joyce J. Scott and Kay Lawal-Muhammad in a long-awaited return of their Thunder Thigh Revue, on stage for the 40th Anniversary of Baltimore Theatre Project in June.
Through it all, Rain remains grounded and happy, devoted to her husband and 4-year-old daughter, Lotus. The day of her Improv gig in D.C., she cooked breakfast for her family and got them out the door before she drove to D.C. for a radio interview, then drove back to Baltimore to make dinner, then back to D.C. to start her actual “work day” on stage at 8 p.m. Nothing about her whiffs of any air of entitlement, and she shakes her head at the very notion. “I’m not that girl,” she says.
The student with the camera has monopolized the conversation since he sat down. She asks him questions about his studies and his equipment, and he allows her to handle his camera and even take a snap of him. At no time does he ask her name, which gives away the fact that he already knows it.
He asks if he can take a photo of her as well, and she agrees.As the shutter clicks, Rain crosses her eyes and screws up her mouth into an exaggerated overbite, resembling a deranged chipmunk. The table shares a laugh, and the student finally departs.
“He totally knew who you are,” Rain’s friend tells her, “and that photo is going to be up on Twitter in the next five minutes.” Rain shrugs and laughs again, and orders another iced tea.