Sunday, November 19, 2017
A Dream Maker Changing Lives
By Janet Alston Jackson
Published April 16, 2009


The single shots are of Richard Lawson
The multiple people in the shot are (Left to right:) Michele Blair Martin, Ryan Jackson,
Richard Lawson, Jorge Ortiz, Taylor Hathorne and Austin Jaye

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

The biggest obstacle standing in the way of most people’s success, is themselves.

Richard Lawson, veteran actor, master teacher, and interventionist, knows this well, and it’s why he is called a Dream Maker. For decades he has taught people how to move themselves out of the way to bring forth their talents to succeed in life as actors, NBA players, or in any chosen career.

With today’s economic crisis severely effecting the African American community losing the most jobs, restoring confidence is vitally important to being able to rebound into a better mindset to not just get work, but land the career of choice. According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 8.1 percent, but among African Americans it is 13.1 percent, the lowest among other races.

Algernon Austin, Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity and the Economy at the Economic Policy Institute, says a lot of discouraged Black workers who have looked month after month for jobs have given up.

“The ability to audition or interview for a job starts long before the actual meeting itself,” says Lawson who teaches a variety of classes at Richard Lawson’s Studios, including “Auditioning.” Many people feel demoralized going through the process.

“Great actors walk into those rooms and fail to deliver the potential of their talent which can be applied to most people in any type of job interview. Some part of them is left out of the room and they are not fully committed,” says Lawson. “Few people enter these interviews expecting to win, most people try not to lose. Their attention and focus revolves around trying to avoid mistakes rather than delivering their intentions. Our class is about changing attitudes and routines that help people get the job they desire, and leave an interview or audition with their morale in tact.”

When people are demoralized, their self-esteem is lowered and this often results in what Lawson calls “aholic” behaviors. These are addictive behaviors, which include alcoholics, sex-aholics, shop-aholics, gambling-aholics, and even Internet-aholics.

Among the hats Lawson wears besides actor, director, and teacher, is an Intervention Specialist. He was instrumental setting up and administrating the drug education and training, treatment, and aftercare program for the National Basketball Association/NBA Players Association.

For 11 years Lawson worked with ASAP, an Adult Substance Abuse Program, and. traveled to teams around the country teaching drug and alcohol education and doing interventions. ” Through my own experience and issues with substance abuse 25 years ago, it helped me with the interventions,” says Lawson, which he rarely has time to do anymore between running his studio and acting.

While working with the NBA, Lawson was starring as Lucas Barnes on the popular soap series, “All My Children.” “The players respected that I was an entertainer, and not a “suit” who came to their training camps wagging a finger and threatening them with jail time if they were caught doing drugs.”

Having trained as an Interventionist by John Bradshaw, one of America’s leading personal growth experts, Lawson found he was instrumental in helping to make the treatment program one of the most successful drug programs in Corporate America.

Using those skills has made Lawson a highly sought after Interventionist, and acting teacher who helps others quickly recognize and release feelings that have held them back.

For 30 years he has taught at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, one of the oldest and respected acting schools. Among the celebrities in his classes were George Clooney, Doris Roberts, Jorge Garcia, and Michelle Pfeiffer.

“Watching Mr. Lawson teach is like seeing a potter turn a lump of clay into a beautiful vessel,” says Emmy-Award winning actor Glynn Turman. “His approach is fun and exciting even for those of us who pretend to be jaded by the craft. He’s good — damn good.”

Lawson himself has a distinguished acting career, in addition to starring in “All My Children,” he was a series regular on “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd,” “Dynasty,” and “Chicago Story.” Among his numerous film credits are “Poltergeist,” “Streets of Fire,” “The Main Event,” “Coming Home,” “Wag the Dog,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and “The Dinner Party.”

Whether he is teaching about substance abuse, or acting, his ability to show his students how to appreciate their worth, elevates their confidence to help them achieve their life’s goals and dreams. In his classes Lawson erases the shame some students feel about their acting.

“They have been told it’s not an important profession. Understand that actors are social scientist, and behavioral scientist, because they change politics, attitudes and fashions.” Among his numerous stage credits Lawson starred in “The Exonerated” a play about people wrongly charged of crimes, which Lawson says helped change the death penalty laws in 14 states.

“I stopped judging myself in Richard’s class,” says Taylor Hawthorne, “I wasn’t focusing on the negative anymore. I started having a lot of energy. It was so empowering to believe in myself. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Lawson prepares his acting students to become multi-dimensional as filmmakers by learning how to utilize computers, camera equipment to shoot, light, edit and create their own product so they can be better prepare to market themselves to agents, casting directors, producers and directors.

Students readily testify he’s a life coach who inspires them to claim their acting dreams which would have been lost if not for him empowering them.

“These classes have changed my career and my life,” said Austin Jaye, a twenty- four-year old actor who like many of Lawson’s loyal students, volunteers his time after class helping with various production jobs in the studio.

When asked if he feels the economy and the impact on Hollywood has diminished acting jobs, Lawson lights up with passion and enthusiasm. “This is a great time to be an entertainer, and push your own product,” he says. “You can make use the Internet to get the exposure you need, no matter what career you have chosen.”

The importance of maintaining positive attitudes and living life to the fullest is not just empty psycho-babble Lawson constantly preaches to his students. They know his words come from the depths of his soul. On March 22, 1992, the actor was on US Air’s flight 405, which crashed during takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Twenty seven people died and 24 people survived, including Lawson. “An event of this magnitude has an indelible effect on your psyche and spirit. It certainly teaches you that there are no guarantees in life,” says the Dream Maker. “You have to live every day as if it’s your last.”

For more on Richard’s free, open classes: visit: or call (818) 793-8767.

You can Email Janet Alston Jackson about this story at

Does Someone in Your Life Have a Drug or Alcohol Addiction?
Richard Lawson, veteran actor, teacher, and former Drug and Alcohol Interventionist for the NBA Players Association, gives the following advice to diagnose someone in your life who may have an alcohol and/or drug addiction.

If you think a friend, co-worker, or family member with an alcohol or drug problem may affect you, the following test can help you determine if your suspicions are founded.

Answer each of the following questions with a “yes” or “no.”
– Are you ever afraid to be around the person when he or she is drinking or using drugs because of the possibility of verbal or physical abuse?
– Do you worry about the person’s drinking or drug use?
– Has the person broken promises to control or stop his/her drinking or drug use?
– Have you ever made excuses for the way the person behaved while drinking or using?
- Do you feel guilty about the person’s drinking or drug use?
- Do you feel anxious or tense around the person because of his or her drinking or drug use?
- Are you afraid to ride with the person after he or she has been drinking or using?
- Have you ever lied to anyone else about the person’s drinking or drug use?
- Have you ever helped the person “cover up” for a drinking or using episode by calling his or her employer, or telling others that he or she is feeling “sick”?
- Have you ever been embarrassed by the person’s drinking or drug use?

If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, then there is a good chance that the person you care about has a drinking or drug problem.

If you answered “yes” to any five, the chance is even greater. And if you answered “yes” to seven or more, you can feel safe in assuming that the person you care about needs help.

What You Can Do
Attend a Free Al-Anon/ Alateen meeting to help you deal with the problem.A welcoming banner on the Al-Anon says, “Many who come to Al-Anon/Alateen are in despair, feeling hopeless, unable to believe that things can ever change. We want our lives to be different, but nothing we have done has brought about change. We all come to Al-Anon because we want and need help.”

Visit Al-Anon and Al-Ateen (for younger members) to locate a meeting near you. Local numbers may also be listed in the white pages of your telephone directory. You can also call 1-888-4AL-ANON (1-888-425-2666) Monday thru Friday, 8 am – 6 pm ET. for meeting information in Canada and the US.

If no Al-Anon/Alateen groups exist in your area, or if you are homebound, the Lone Member Service can help you. There are also Al-Anon meetings available over the Internet.

Visit Richard Lawson’s website for more information:

Categories: Health

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