|Lamont Richmond II > > >|
A few days after Shooting Stars, the LeBron James biopic, premiered on Peacock, Lamont Richmond II dropped a link to an Instagram post from @MakeItUniversal in my inbox. It was a short feature about working as a production assistant (PA) on the film.“I started in the hospital as a floor tech, cleaning floors,” Richmond tells us in the video. “I did that for three years. Got a call to be a production assistant. She said a P.A. No clue what the letters meant.”
And then there he was, on the Akron set of Shooting Stars, handing out call sheets and wrangling extras. I connected with that experience, having worked as a PA on a handful of productions some 20-plus years ago.
Which is what stood out to me when Richmond shared the video. Richmond is a young guy. Not like the crew of PAs I worked with. We were all in our early 20s, hoping to make the leap up the production ladder.
Beyond his obvious love for the world of film production, why was Richmond working as a PA?
Then, in the video, Richmond tells us.
“They always say, ‘What’s your why?’ My ‘why’ is to get my son through college,” Richmond explains. And then reveals that his son would receive his undergraduate degree that very week.
Hell, that’s a movie right there. I had to know more about Richmond’s incredible journey.
Richmond, a Cleveland native, was first introduced to production work while attending the University of Toledo. “I always wanted to be an actor,” Richmond tells me. “Always wanted to be in front of the camera or behind it.”
At Toledo, Richmond was introduced to broadcast television production, working with the student news program, learning how to work the camera and read a teleprompter. He even acted in a commercial for the student-run television station.
His next significant production work, however, wouldn’t arrive for another 10 years or so.
Here’s where things diverge a bit from the Universal video. Richmond, working at his floor tech job, was set to do day work as an extra the next morning. During the shoot on that film, background actors started to grow a bit antsy. For extras, movie sets can require a lot of patience, as the time on set is far outweighed by the time waiting to act.
“People started complaining. Everybody except me,” Richmond explains. “A crew member said she liked my attitude and thought my personality and passion would fit perfectly with being a PA. At the time, I had no clue what a PA was, but I still said ‘Yes.’”
The job was not on the Shooting Stars set, however.
“Turned out to be on the set of Judas and the Black Messiah. Big time!” says Richmond. “I was totally overwhelmed, confused, and way out of my league. Everyone saw it, too, but I stuck in there until the end.”
While the crew may have noted his rookie status, they also saw his strong work ethic and passion for filmmaking. That landed him a gig on White Noise, the Netflix film starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, and an offer at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. He turned down the Tyler Perry role to join Shooting Stars and stick close to home.
His son was about to graduate, after all, fulfilling the promise Richmond and his son’s mother set years ago, to help his son financially. He graduated in 2023 with a degree in sports management.
“Balancing a flourishing career with personal responsibilities is difficult,” Richmond says. “And I have nothing but deep gratitude for the hard work and support I’ve received that has allowed me to help my son and pursue my dreams.”
Waiting for That Next Incredible DayRichmond’s burgeoning career has already provided plenty of memorable moments. Reflecting on his journey, Richmond says he even cherishes freezing temperatures and the 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. workday on Judas and the Black Messiah. And he’ll never forget witnessing the staged train and truck crash - a remarkable feat of filmmaking - while working on White Noise.
And he can’t wait for the next incredible day.