This is the second of an on-going series of actors that I believe are either underrated or unknown.
First credit (according to IMDB): Web Journal Now (short)
Most known for: Awkward., Fly Away, One Tree Hill
Upcoming films: Behaving Badly
Originally, I planned on writing a post about how I have become too old for the MTV Movie Awards, but then I realized about halfway through the show that the Movie Awards is more geared to the older audience than the VMAs, so needless to say, I will be re-visiting this topic in September (They’re still in September, right?). At that point, I realized I had nothing for the blog and I panicked, but thankfully I was saved by an ad for an MTV show: Awkward.
After the 30-second spot finished, I turned to my sister and said – without context – ‘I am a huge Ashley Rickards fan.’ Her response was a little underwhelming in that she couldn’t remember her at all. I was shocked because she’s a huge One Tree Hill fan, but her forgetfulness gave me an idea and my second actor for the underrated list.
Ashley Richards is probably one of the more obscure choices for this list, unless of course you are an avid watcher of MTV. She hasn’t had much in terms of hi-profile roles, but like Ari Graynor, every character she plays is memorable.
My first encounter with her acting prowess came way of One Tree Hill. She played Brooke’s pseudo adopted daughter, Sam. I became a fan from the first moment I saw her on the show, as I immediately thought, ‘Who is this girl?’ and quickly searched IMDB. I’m a sucker for actors who can portray an emotion without saying a word, and she had it in spades.
She was the perfect foil for Brooke, as she was just as much of a smart ass as young Brooke was in the show’s first three seasons; Rickards nailed the part. It was a genius move to have Brooke go through the phase that most young parents go through, which is to raise a child that is exactly like you were at that age — I think this is the moment when your parents and grandparents finally bond. Once Rickards left the small North Carolina town, the show was never able to find a relationship that fit as well as Sam and Brooke.
She has carried over her terrific comedic timing to MTV’s Awkward. (Yes, there’s a period at the end of the title because, why not, right?) which is Scrubs for the teen drama genre. Awkward. incorporates a tactic that is hit or miss in movies and television: the voiceover. When done well, as Rickards does, it enhances a show or movie, but when it’s done poorly — Vicki Christina Barcelona — it takes the audience completely out of the story. Few actors can handle the voiceover role well, and even less master it (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars). While not as well written as Veronica Mars, Awkward. is the best use of the feature since Rob Thomas’ teenage noir. And all the credit belongs to Rickards.
For those that have not seen the show or Ashley Rickards, MTV has kindly kept seasons one and two available to watch on their Web site for you to catch up. Rickards is quietly carving out a name for herself among the great actress of her age group, and soon enough she will no longer be allowed to inhabit this list, and you can quote me on that. And if you still don’t see the talent, remind me never to take advice from you about anything.