Arcadia High School has raised its fair share of talented individuals over the years, from Lynda Carter to Steven Spielberg. Now there’s another name to add to the list of notable alumni, Haley Lu Richardson.
Richardson discovered she was passionate about the performing arts at an early age. She consistently had roles in plays at Villa Montessori School, Desert Stages and Valley Youth Theatre. She was active in gymnastics at Arizona Sunrays. Richardson also took up dancing with both Cannedy Performing Arts competitive dance company, as well as Arcadia High School’s dance company.
At age 16, Richardson tirelessly tried to persuade her parents that Los Angeles was where she belonged. She wrote essays to convince them and considered all of the logistics for such a move. Finally receiving the green light from her family, she headed out west with her mom, Valerie Richardson, to bring her dreams of becoming a professional dancer to fruition.
Although her journey through the entertainment industry began with an emphasis on professional dancing, a career in acting quickly followed suit. Richardson made some of her first appearances on television shows such as Awkward, Ravenswood, Law and Order SVU and Recovery Road. She landed her first leading role in the 2014 post-apocalyptic film The Last Survivors, about a group of people struggling together in a dystopian future where water is scarce.
Her most recent role was in the 2015 Sundance film The Bronze, as a character that Richardson describes as a “bubbly, sweet, up-and-coming gymnast.” The dark comedy pairs Richardson with The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch, who plays a foul-mouthed, bronze-winning Olympian gymnast who becomes Richardson’s coach. The film recently received a limited theatrical release in March 2016.
Next on the agenda, Richardson will star opposite Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson in a coming-of-age comedy called Besties, along with the highly anticipated M. Night Shyamalan film Split.
“He’s so secretive. I didn’t receive a copy of the script until after I was offered the role,” Richardson said. “They actually had M. Night Shyamalan’s cousin hand deliver a single, paper copy of the script to me. It was the only copy I had and it became very worn.”
When asked about Shyamalan’s signature plot twists and unexpected endings, she understandably couldn’t share many details.
Family brings Richardson back to Phoenix on a regular basis. When in town, she takes in the Arizona scenery by hiking on nearby Camelback Mountain and Piestewa Peak. She also enjoys checking out the latest neighborhood hangouts in the area, with Flower Child being her new favorite.
While she may be following her dreams in Los Angeles, Haley Lu Richardson is still an Arcadia girl at heart.