Rich Manley joins Chelsie Overocker on The House of Hallmark to discuss his new show, Culture Shock: Bridging Cultures Through Magic, premiering on the Tubi channel this October and shares his story on how he connected with different cultures while performing magic tricks.
“It’s a show about culture and bridging cultures just like in the title. But it’s very much about integration and traveling to different parts of the world. We did our first episode in Peru.Then we were in Africa and China..the general premise of it is traveling and doing adventurous stuff. Whether it’s mountain climbing, skydiving, skiing, backcountry skiing, treading through jungles, desserts, or scuba diving. We get to these regions that are remote and we talk to the cultures. Talk to the people there and they have their own traditions and beliefs so I use magic to kind of break the ice..in doing that they welcome me into the community and show me a lot of their traditions.”
It’s cool that doing magic tricks helps break the ice. Does that also help you if there is a language barrier?
“I think it depends on the community and region. Normally I have a fixture or somebody who comes with me and sets it up so they know that I’m coming.The magic is a big thing. When we arrived in the amazon we walked up the banks and it was raining. There were some kids that came up to us. The people that were expecting us weren’t the ones that welcomed us. We had someone with us who spoke the language which was a mix of dialect and Spanish…I had no idea how to communicate with them so I just took out my cards and I did magic for them.”
“All of a sudden more kids came and it was an experience that was remarkable because at first they were like ‘who are these people’? Then after I did magic they were like ‘wow come this way’ and took my hand.”
What an amazing opportunity to use your talent in magic to connect with different people and kids. Rich states that taking a trip to Egypt is what helped him want to create the show.
“I own a production company and we have been working on some other projects and then this one came along after I took a trip to Egypt with my buddy James who is also a producer, friend of mine, and co-host for the show. We went to Egypt for vacation and I always wanted to go..a lot of the people there were looking at us and they were trying to sell us goods. I saw this older gentleman and he wasn’t getting many sales so I said to James, ‘I’m gonna do some magic for him’. We had a camera and I said, ‘can you film it and just to see what we get’? I took this beetle.. and made it disappear and I made it appear on the shoulder and he was blown away. Suddenly, there was a conglomeration of people coming around us..after that they stopped looking at us like tourists and they were like, ‘come brother’ and considering me part of their community. Bringing me into their house and I was having tea with them. They were showing me older Egyptian artifacts that they have found..and just talking about their culture and stories.”
After Rich got done learning more about Egypt’s culture he headed back to his hotel room to brainstorm ideas on how to pitch this show to different networks.
“So I went back to the hotel room with James and I said, ‘I think we have something here, something very compelling’. So I went back to Los Angeles and started writing it up and then I used my production company contacts that I had because I used to work over at Paramount. I started reaching out and pitching to some other show runners and people that I work with and after a while we got it picked up by Tubi.”
Rich started practicing magic at a young age and even though going to Egypt is what pushed Rich to want to create Culture Shock. His grandfather is the one who taught him magic and is the roots of how the show became a possibility.
“Since I was 10 and it was my grandfather. This is what this story is loosely based on. The catalyst was me going to Egypt and seeing how powerful it was with other communities and cultures. But he taught me my first magic trick at 10 years old and he was a surgeon. In the 40’s they taught surgeons magic so they’d be better with their hands. He also traveled around the world and went to Peru to get to the amazons..he went up to Russia and Switzerland. He was the adventurer but also trying to implement other practices like holistic healing and spiritual meditation into his own medical practice.”
“He would do magic for people along the way and used the travel journal for everything. After he passed away he gave me the journal and the show is based off of me following that journal and using it as a roadmap to retrace the steps he went to doing magic and learning about spirituality.”
We love how the show is based off of Rich reliving his grandfather’s adventures and following his journal. However, filming Culture Shock wasn’t easy and not like your typical day on a studio set.
“We normally go for two weeks at a minimum, sometimes two weeks in a half. Maybe three just depending on the logistics of where we are going…when we’re going rock climbing or we’re in some place that’s very remote and we’re doing white water kayaking..it takes a lot of time to make sure it’s safe and we can get from point a to point b and nothing goes wrong. Then especially to add the element of filming. It’s been very difficult but we were very successful at it.”
Rich shares that when you’re filming and producing a show while traveling you will experience difficult situations. There was a moment he remembers where it was unsafe for them to film and was caught in the middle of a village shooting gunfire at each other.
“In Ethiopia where we were filming there was a tribal warfare happening in Omo valley which was the southern point of Ethiopia…there was some kind of dispute over land and we were stopped on the dirt road that is away from civilization. So there were a few trucks that were coming that were bringing supplies and leaving…we stopped on the side of the road and our guide got out and started talking to some of the other people in the native language and we found out there was gunfire and people were shooting at each other. It was very unsafe to go to the village..we all huddled around and the director said, ‘I think we should turn around.’ and I said to him, ‘no I want to go in!’”
“So we went further down the road and stopped by a tourist van of people who have just been robbed..we kept going and we were held up by a line of military individuals. At that point I was a little scared because I didn’t know whether these people were the good guys or bad guys…they said we need to leave because two people in the woods got shot. So we turned around and the whole time we were driving back we we’re watching our backs to see if anybody else was going to come out.”
Wow! We’re glad that everyone is okay and what a crazy experience to encounter. We are looking forward to watching more of your adventures. Make sure you all check out Culture Shock: Bridging Cultures Together Through Magic premiering this October on the Tubi Channel.
Thank you Rich for coming on The House of Hallmark to share your stories on how you connect with different cultures through magic. When we all come together we learn and achieve more.
Check out the full interview here!
Follow Rich on IG @richcmanley to keep up with his latest projects.
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