Growing up as a biracial person in the '70s and '80s was a struggle for Rain Pryor, the daughter of the renowned comedian Richard Pryor.
Even so, she said that growing up, she didn’t see many people that looked like her.
“The era that I grew up there weren’t a lot of kids like me,” Pryor said. “Now there’s tons of biracial kids but in my era — the 60s, 70s and 80s — there just weren’t people like me.”
She often had struggles with her identity, which is the main theme of her documentary, “That Daughter’s Crazy.” The film was shown in Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union on Tuesday night.
“I was never black enough to be black, and I was never white enough to be white, so that felt awkward,” Pryor said. “But then as I got older I got more comfortable in my own skin and comfortable in who I was.”
To compensate, she'd do what she calls “code switching.” She would act one way around her black friends, then switch her behavior around her white friends. Pryor, 46, said that she didn’t truly begin to accept herself until she was in her 30s.
Pryor said she identifies more with the black side of her family, which is something that came naturally, she said.
“You stand on both sides of that aisle, but the truth is when it comes down to it, I live in a society as a woman of color, period — even though I have lighter skin,” Pryor said. “Trust me, if there’s not a moment that goes by where I’m like, 'What’s going to happen to me if I walk into a room with white people?'”
Her childhood was also different because her father was one of the most influential comedians. But despite growing up with such a polarizing figure, Pryor said her childhood was fairly normal.
“It was normal for me,” Pryor said. “Other than when [Richard Pryor] would lock himself away in a room to do whatever he’s doing.”
As the daughter of a celebrity, Pryor said people often approach her and want to discuss her father instead of trying to get to know her, she said.
“It’s good on one hand because that’s who my dad was — he paved the way and was a pioneer. Then at the same time I wish people wouldn’t assume things about me,” Pryor said. “I’m not a diva, I’m really approachable. I didn’t get left money, the hookers did. I worked for everything I have.”
Pryor is an actress, musician and former stand-up comedian. She followed in her father’s footsteps, also working in the entertainment industry. However, comparisons to her father are what ultimately drew her away from stand-up comedy.
“People loved him so much, and I look like him, and at points I sound like him, and at points my cadence is like his because he’s my dad. It’s natural,” Pryor said. “And then you reach a place where you’re just like, 'I don’t have to do this anymore. I can now be my own person.'”
In the documentary, Pryor acknowledges her father’s legacy, but tells her own story.
“I don’t live like Paris Hilton or how those heiresses live,” Pryor said. “But, what I do have is my dad’s integrity and truth and his ability to tell a story. Which is pretty dope.”
“That Daughter’s Crazy” tells her story through personal interviews with the actress, her mother and her grandmother. It's supplemented with clips from her solo show, “Fried Chicken and Latkes.”
Pryor portrayed various important family members in the show, which impressed Iuliia Glushneva, an international student from Moscow.
“It was very interesting when Rain tells about her experiences with her mother," Glushneva said. "It was fascinating to see how she conveyed images of her."
The film showed the first time that Pryor was called a racial slur, one of the pivotal moments of the film and in Pryor’s life. This resonated with Paul Fowler, a graduate student from Lawrence.
“I thought it was an accurate representation of identity in an American context,” Fowler said.