‘The Rev’s Richard Hartley on His ‘Over the Top’ Family & Life in the Church (VIDEO)
Get ready to meet Richard “The Rev” Hartley and his family in the new inspirational family docu-comedy, which premieres January 21 on USA.
The Rev follows the pastor and his family (wife Stacey, daughter Judea, and son Jordan) both in and outside of the church. A USA description of the show calls him “larger than life,” “outspoken,” and “eccentric,” with “over the top tendencies.”
“They hit that right on point,” Hartley tells TV Insider. “It’s just my authentic self, even while filming. We’re just being who we naturally have been for years.”
In our chat below, Hartley also talks about working with his family and reveals the “sweetest revenge” he got while filming. Plus, watch the exclusive clip.
Has your family been surprised by anything you’ve done on the show?
Richard Hartley: No, they’re used to me. They’ve always said I’m over the top. That’s why my daughter’s repeated line in the show is “Daddy, stop.” It’s been my whole life. I don’t understand why people see me as over-the-top, but I guess I am. The family’s used to it, but they’re over the top, too.
What have you learned about your family doing the show?
They really are strange people. And I’ve seen a more giving side of them during this pandemic, they’ve helped people in the community with delivering food and coats. In times of crisis, they really proved who they were.
You already work as a family at the church. What’s different about being with them on TV?
Because we work together at the church then we’re stuck in quarantine and now we’re filming together, all the drama is heightened, but it’s fun drama. We laugh through the entire production, from sunrise to sunset.
Watch an exclusive clip of Richard with his daughter, Judea:
So you’ve been a singer and musical director helping major artists and choirs. Has this proven beneficial in any way for the show?
Working with Celine Dion, Diana Ross, and Mariah Carey and on The David Letterman Show, that was my passion: making choirs sing. Now with the show, I’m working with non-professional singers. These are singers that can’t sing at all. Their eyes are in their feet. That’s a challenge musically, but it’s fun. They’re the nicest people.
Will there be an even balance on the show between your life at the church and your home life?
There really is no balance. The church has its demands, and the family has their demands, and I have my own desires. I’m trying to integrate all of those aspects together in the time of COVID, which is really challenging.
We were in pre-production and started our initial production before COVID. Then COVID hit and we had to shut down for about five months. When we have to put into play all of the CDC precautions. We’re singers, so now we have to do social distancing and family groups and masks. We integrated that experience the whole world was experiencing and put a fun twist on it. We showed people we can survive and thrive in this pandemic and still have fun.
Is there anything you had to eliminate completely because of COVID?
We couldn’t perform before massive audiences like usual. That was a challenge because it’s just a different dynamic singing in front of 500 people. We had to downsize our performance level to adapt to COVID.
Anything caught on camera you were especially happy about?
I used to have a poodle years ago and I went on the road, and my wife got rid of my poodle because she couldn’t take care of it for two months. It broke my heart. On this show, I bring home the cutest little bulldog. Production would not let my wife or my daughter know and I burst into the house with this dog. They jumped on top of tables. It was the sweetest revenge. We had the dog on set a little over a week. That was really fun.
Is there anything specific you hope viewers to get out of the show?
It’s conceptual, not situational. I want America to see an African American family where all of the individuals work as a unit, where love is the center, faith is the center. We have our own individual passions and paths, but we always come together as family.
The Rev, Series Premiere, Thursday, January 21, 10:30/9:30c, USA