The Voyage Houston – Most Inspiring Stories – Meet Amelia Rico of Ricornel Productions in Cypress

Today we’d like to introduce you to Amelia Rico.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in the Westside of San Antonio, which is known as the Barrio. My mom and I lived with my Grandmother so even though I was an only child, I always had cousins around. We would play in the dirt, climb the Chinese Plum tree, drink from the outside hose and eat freshly picked Pomegranates from the front yard. Those were the highlights. I would also bathe with my cousins in a dirty little makeshift bathroom that often did not have toilet paper and, as the youngest grandchild, I was, more often than not, picked on or teased. I still have a scar under my chin from when one of my cousins decided to tie me up so that I had to hop around the yard and instead, I fell hard onto gravel and split my chin open.

When I was five years old, my mom moved us in with her girlfriend and through the years, we moved further and further away until we eventually made it to the suburbs of San Antonio. Despite our many moves, I continued to attend school on the Westside, which made it difficult to create any lasting friendships. The fact that I loved school and was always very goal-oriented led to me being bullied often. Even in predominantly Hispanic schools, my Indigenous appearance was ridiculed. My almond eyes, my dark skin and even my large behind, were favorite subjects used to tear me down. I was an outsider. So I spent most of my time sitting in my room with the lights off, just looking up at the ceiling. Maybe that’s why I always had a thriving imagination and fell in love with acting.

In film and television, I could be anything I wanted. I could fit in.

My mother’s longtime girlfriend became a second mother to me and they both impressed upon me two things that shaped my life: I would go to college, no question, and I would not get pregnant young. And so it was, I became the first of my family to attend and graduate from college. I also had both my children after the age of 30, despite having met my husband in high school. And now I’m fresh off an award-winning short film I produced, Vilomah, streaming on Xerb.TV, an award-winning Indie film I acted in, Rich Kids, streaming on Netflix, making my network television debut on Paramount TVs hit show, Yellowstone, and currently filming in New Orleans on my first big Hollywood movie for a major streaming service. This is all because I was always made to believe that I could and would succeed. I owe that to my two moms.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I moved to Houston straight after high school, where I struggled to provide for myself. Luckily, I was no stranger to being alone or living off of nothing. I was able to take advantage of many school grants in order to attend college but often lived off of 6 for $1 ramen. I even taught myself the bus route in order to get to school and back, since I had no car. No matter what challenges came my way, I somehow made it work. I am extremely proud of that 18 years old me, never giving up.

After a year, my then boyfriend, now husband, joined me and we made ends meet by taking odd jobs like working at various Haunted Houses or cashiering at Jack in the Box and at the college bookstore.

In college, I did my best to fit in, but being one of few BIPOC students, I still did not feel accepted. My white peers continued to excel, starring in not only school plays, but also quickly finding a place in professional productions like the Houston Shakespeare Festival, while I was denied even an audition. I remember making a stand and going to my acting professor’s office to plead for an audition. I told her that I knew she didn’t think much of me, but I would like the opportunity to prove her wrong. She looked me straight in the eye without so much as a moment of remorse and said “No.”, continuing her hard gaze until I sheepishly apologized and walked out of the room with my tail tucked between my legs.

I realized at the moment that I would never be handed anything. If I wanted to succeed, I would need to create my own opportunities.

Please tell us about Ricornel Productions.
After deciding to create our own content, my husband and I scraped together every penny we had to buy a cheap video camera and we began making movies. This was the turning point. We were now Filmmakers with a mission to create female and minority driven works for a general audience.

We began writing and producing short films and upgrading our equipment every chance we got. We were even able to pay the bills by creating promotional and archive videos for many Houston theaters, including Main Street Theater, The Alley Theatre and The Ensemble Theatre. Soon, we gained a reputation for our video, photography and film work. We were screening at Festivals all over the world and even winning awards for not only our own films but films that we produced for other Houston female and BIPOC writers.

We eventually realized that, like me, there were many actors in Houston who struggled with getting footage for their demo reels. So, we created the Indie Film Workshop and it came as no surprise that almost all of the actors that came to us were BIPOC men and women. For a time, we even opened it up for guest directors. Being able to supply BIPOC actors and directors with professional footage and an IMDB credit is one of the most significant things we have done as a company. Many of the actors we worked with went on to get representation, star in commercials and even landed roles in television and film.

What were you like growing up?
I was a very determined and independent child. Having grown up mostly as a latchkey kid, teaching myself to swim and ride a bike, spending all Summer watching Disney films and later MTV while my moms went to work, I learned the value of solitude early in life. I loved to read and learn and talk. I was never one to risk trouble or step out of line but I loved being the center of attention.

As a very small child, my mother caught me practicing to cry in the mirror and I always acted out my favorite film scenes whenever I had the opportunity. I remember when I was around 6 or 7, I performed the entire dinner dance from Beetlejuice at one of my mom’s parties. I just always loved performing to a crowd.

In high school, my friends would laugh at how dramatically I would react to the latest gossip. How I wore my emotions on the outside without abandon. But I just didn’t know how to be anybody but me.

Contact Info:

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  • Instagram: @ricornelproductions
  • Facebook: @ricornelpro
  • Twitter: @ricornelpro


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