Richard Lafleur ‘08 has traveled the world, performing on stage and screen. He has also worked in one of the most famous restaurants in the country, serving world leaders, including three U.S. presidents. He credits his “magical” experiences at Rabun Gap for preparing him to take on the world.
Tell us what you have been doing since graduating from Rabun Gap?
After graduating from RGNS in 2008, I went to The New School University in NYC and graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre. I then went to grad school in the U.K. at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School for my MFA in Acting. Since then, I have been lucky to perform around the world on cruise ships, at over 30 regional theaters across the U.S., on six T.V. shows, and on three different national Broadway tours of Tony Award winning musicals. I performed in "The Producers", as Leo Bloom, "Cabaret", as Ernst Ludwig, and "Monty Python's Spamalot" as several characters. I am currently the on-camera spokesperson for Ford's model E, electric vehicle division.
What is something interesting about you that we wouldn't find on your resume?
My survival job between acting gigs, for over eight years now, has been working at Le Bernardin in NYC as a bar captain. Le Bernardin is a three-Michelin-star restaurant, widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world. The experiences I have had working there have been incredible. I have served and spoken with three U.S. presidents, the Dalai Lama, and hundreds of business leaders and celebrities. Being a fly on the wall there is just unlike anything else.
How did Rabun Gap help to prepare you or influence your future goals?
Rabun Gap taught me so much. It prepared me to work hard, be independent, to always be curious, and most importantly, to think outside of the box. With all that said, the theatre department truly changed my life.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Rabun Gap?
I have so many I couldn't possibly just choose one! Swim Team, countless nights rehearsing at the Reardon, nighttime “capture the flag” across the whole campus, hanging out with my friends from all over the world. My time at RGNS was just....magic.
Is there a specific faculty member, dorm parent, or coach who had a particularly important impact on you?
I have no idea what I would have done, or worked toward, if I hadn't stepped foot into the Reardon Theatre and met Mr. Larry Smith. Mr. Smith taught me to believe in myself, and to trust my intuition on stage. He allowed me to try, and fail, and try again, and ultimately become not only a confident performer, but a leader as well. He pushed me to pursue national leadership roles in my time at RGNS, which proved invaluable to my development. With his guidance, I ran for State Student Officer in the Georgia Thespian Society and was elected to state council my junior year. In my Senior year, he encouraged me to run for the International Thespian Officer Chair position on the national council, and against all odds, I was elected. That experience changed my life. Mr. Smith was a mentor unlike any other, and I truly owe all of my success, onstage and off, to the lessons he taught me at RGNS.
What advice do you have for current Rabun Gap students that you wish someone had told you during your time at school?
Rabun Gap gives you so much access. Try everything. Take a theatre class, join the debate club, try as many languages as you can, play multiple sports. Do as much as you can, and it will surprise you in life how these experiences will come in handy when you least expect them to. Being a well-rounded person with multiple interests is such a valuable currency.
What would you like to see happen at Rabun Gap in the next 10 years?
Firstly, I would love to see Rabun Gap maintain its identity, and not lose the magic it had in my years there. Secondly, I would love to see more students encouraged to pursue leadership experiences, or engagement opportunities like I had in national or state organizations. Exposure to those experiences and institutions were pivotal in my development, and gave me a massive edge when applying to leading universities in the fields I wanted to pursue.