Dundalk has a new movie star and his name is Richie Merritt.
In his acting debut, he’s starring next to a guy you may have heard of, Mathew McConaughey.
On Friday the title character of “White Boy Rick” is back home to watch the debut with the people who made him who he is.
In a few days, he’s going to be ripping tickets for his own movie—that’s right when filming wrapped up the 17-year-old all but begged for a job at Flagship Cinemas to help pay the bills.
If you put any stock into multiple reviews, the fresh-faced actor won’t be worrying about money for long.
His older brother Daris Merritt has seen Richie grow from the kid he played football within the yard to the movie star he is now.
“I think it’s good for him man it changed him a lot,”. Merritt said. “. He’s so much more mature now, I’m proud for him.”
His mother Tiffany Pruitt was by his side every day of shooting.
Through the rigors of a completely new schedule and way of life in places they’ve never been before, she never doubted her son.
“He always made everything fun on set for everybody,” Pruitt said. “It was just like the most amazing experience you can’t even explain.”
Hard work helped to hide his acting greenness.
His on-screen dad Matthew McConaughey took him under his wing in real life too.
“If you could pick any role model for this situation for your child Matthew would be it,”. Said Pruitt. “He’s very family oriented he just took his own personal time that he didn’t need to with Richie and put that time in. They grew like a bond like a father and son bond.”
From watching his best friend fearlessly climb and fall out of a tree in fourth grade to being his right-hand man on the biggest day of his life, Austin Mendez said he’s the same old Rich.
“He knows how to like talk to people, he just connects,” said Mendez. “If you go up to him you understand like yeah this is his time to shine. He got the pass to get out of here.”
Now people around the world are looking at Richie from Dundalk High.
None more proudly then his friends and family watching his big screen premiere with him.
“He is so down to earth you wouldn’t believe it,” his grandfather John Petty said. “If it had been me my head would have been this big. To be discovered and become a movie star in a leading role. A teenager he’s just, you don’t see any difference.”
Injecting that Dundalk swagger into Hollywood.
But never forgetting where he came from.
“He’s proud to make Baltimore proud you know,” his mother said. “He talks a lot about it “Baltimore is never talked about, Baltimore is always put down to the last,” He’s very proud to be from where he’s from and do what’s he’s doing for Baltimore.”
He was first discovered when he showed up late to school.
A casting agent was at Dundalk High looking for someone like Richie and when he walked in the principal said you outta try this kid.
Fast forward to Friday, the movie is out in theaters across the country.
The general manager said he may be on the schedule this week, scooping popcorn and ripping tickets for what his family and friends say is the first of many more movies to come.