By Al Carlos Hernandez
Herald de Paris
HOLLYWOOD - Maria Richwine is the first Latina Playboy Bunny to ever become a serious actress and model. She has joined the ranks of such luminary former Bunnies as Gloria Steinem, Debra Harry of Blondie and Lauren Hutton. Born Maria Agudelo in Colombia, her parents viewed the USA as a land of opportunity both educationally and economically.
Her father brought the family to the US when she was just a little girl. In NYC, they took her to see the Rockettes and "Breakfast At Tiffany's" at Radio City Music Hall. Audrey Hepburn's performance as "Holly Go Lightly" was such an inspiration to her and made such an impression that she decided that one day she would become an actress.
Richwine's family later moved to Los Angeles, where she studied ballet, jazz and modern dance for eight years. She attended high school and college and majored in foreign languages with the intention of becoming an interpreter at the United Nations. During that time she began teaching aerobics classes at the Century West Health Club in Century City.
Across the way from the Health Club was the Los Angeles PLAYBOY CLUB. One of the students in her class was "The Bunny Mother" who was the person responsible for training and hiring all the Playboy Bunnies. Maria was offered and accepted the job and became a Playboy Bunny for the next four years.
Richwine began taking acting classes. The classes lead to her being cast as Catherine in Arthur Miller's play "A View From the Bridge" at the Nosotros Theatre. Her reviews caught the attention of an agent who signed her on the spot. Soon after, she was seen by casting director, Joyce Selznick, who was looking for a young actress to play the part of Maria Elena Holly in "The Buddy Holly Story" opposite Gary Busey. The timing was perfect and Maria landed the part - Busey was nominated for an Oscar for his brilliant performance - and for her performance in the film, Maria received the Nosotros "Golden Eagle Award" as "Most Promising Actress" for that year.
Ms. Richwine has appeared in many stage productions including "The Shoemaker's Prodigious Wife" and "Divine Words" at the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts and "Cuba and His Teddy Bear" at the Callboard Theatre. Most recently she played the part of Constansa in the critically acclaimed production of "Hercules On Normandie" at The Greenway Court Theatre.
She worked in several other feature films and dozens of guest starring roles for television, including "Three's Company" with the great John Ritter and "Sledge Hammer", under the direction of Bill Bixby. She was a series regular on Norman Lear's first Latino sitcom on prime time, "AKA Pablo" starring Paul Rodriguez. Ms. Richwine has worked in over 100 Television Commercials for the Spanish and English markets and numerous voice over projects.
Richwine has also been working as a print model and can be seen in campaign ads for VERIZON, WELLS FARGO, AMERITRADE, TELEFLORA, and AMGEN Pharmaceuticals.
Recently, Maria was cast as a regular in the upcoming cybernovela "The Devil You Know" directed by P. David Ebersole which is now in post production. She is currently working on a new Web series "The Healers" starring opposite Richard Yniguez. Mr. Yniguez is also the writer, director and producer of the new project with the collaboration of the director of photography Armando Acevedo and editor Pablo Picazo.
According to Maria, this is a very exciting time in her career and she is grateful for all the new opportunities coming her way. Maria resides in Los Angeles with her husband Andrew, her son Quincy and their dog Homer.
Herald de Paris Deputy Managing Editor Dr. Al Carlos Hernandez was introduced to Maria by their mutual friend Richard Yniguez:
AC: Tell us about your parents. What kind of work did they do, whose idea was it to come to the USA and what where they looking for?
My father was very young when he met my mom. They fell in love, got married and started a family right away. She was a homemaker and he worked for Sears Roebuck & Co in Medellin, Colombia as a repairman. He had high ambitions and wanted a better life and a good education so he decided to go to the US to study and work.
We stayed with my grandmother in Colombia and Dad went to the US. He attended school during the day at the "New York Technical Institute" to study thermal engineering and at night he worked in a restaurant to save every penny so that he could send for me, my mom and my brother Fred. After many months, we arrived in NYC to a completely different world.
AC: What was your first memory of the USA? Did you have a hard time learning English, and how was it in school? Were you introverted or extroverted?