Richie Shazam on Becoming a Director, Fashion, Self-Love, and More


(Image credit: BFA Images)

Richie Shazam at her directorial debut at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Richie Shazam is somewhat of a modern-day renaissance woman. She has been seen on the cover of Nylon, in campaigns for Prada, running around NYC with her best friend and former roommate Julia Fox, and on high-fashion runways. She is a full-on force of nature, and when I heard she was adding director to her résumé, I knew I had to see her film. Luckily for me, Shazam teamed up with Converse and the Tribeca Film Festival to debut her documentary-style short film Savitree, and I was invited.

This was my first time attending the festival, so I was excited, on top of already looking forward to seeing Shazam’s first film. Once I arrived, the venue was completely packed with very well-dressed fashion people, fellow editors, the NYC cool crowd, fans of Shazam, and of course Shazam’s stylish friends and family, including Paloma Elsesser and Julia Fox. The film was beautiful. It took us on a journey through Shazam’s life from when she was born to her relationship with her mother to what her life was like in NYC and finding what she calls her "chosen family.” Not only was it deeply inspiring but also the visuals were out of this world.

You can really tell that Shazam worked incredibly hard on this project, and it completely paid off. Once the after-party began, I got to sneak away to Shazam’s dressing room, where she was putting on the most fabulous Area outfit. (If you’re asking me, her taste is on point.) We talked about our favorite brands, the inspiration behind the film, and everything in between.

Keep scrolling to read our conversation.


(Image credit: Richie Shazam wearing Area)

What inspired you to direct a short film?  

Through my own personal exploration of love, acceptance, and support, I've been inspired to share my story with others who might be going through the same thing. I am an artist and a creative who is always looking for the next medium and a new way to express myself. It’s so important to spread love and light and be able to show the world how I rose above all the challenges I faced growing up to become the woman I am today, supported by the most amazing partner and the most wonderful group of sisters who I know have my back through thick and thin. This film gave me the chance to speak to young, queer people around the world and show them that no matter what they’re going through, it’s going to be all right. You’ll find your place, and you’ll find your family.

You clearly have a great sense of style and a love for fashion. I personally was super into your campaign for Prada’s outdoor collection. What are you excited about wearing this summer?

I’m honestly excited to wear almost no clothes this summer because I want to feel super free, and it's going to be super hot. I want to stomp through the streets unapologetically. 

You are known for being unapologetically yourself. What advice would you give to other people who are struggling with self-confidence?

It’s important to do daily exercises to affirm yourself and help you feel more confident in yourself. It’s important to take time to reflect. Surround yourself with positive, upbeat energy.

In my opinion, you’re somewhat of a style icon. What brands are you loving right now?

I love Schiaparelli. I’m obsessed with all of their otherworldly designs, and it really allows me to dream. And, of course, Converse! 

We know you are talented in so many different areas, and tonight is your directorial debut. How was directing your first short film?  

For me, this process was filled with more self-reflection than I ever imagined. I dug deep into my past and my feelings about my past that I did not even realize I hadn’t processed before to create Savitree. Through all that reflection though, I was surrounded by my support system who helped to guide me and love me through it all. The most revelatory part of it, however, is looking back at my old home videos and coming to peace with the little boy in those images and understanding the journey I have been on to get to the place I am today. 

What was the most challenging part of directing your first short film?  

The most challenging part of directing my first film was looking at imagery from my childhood and coming to terms with it. It was super cathartic to joyously see those images and make peace with my past. 

Converse is such a classic all-American brand. What about it, in particular, made you want to partner with it for Pride Month? 

The support Converse puts behind their LGBTQIA+ programming and the support they were willing to put behind me was incredibly inspirational. They are a company known for uplifting creatives, and I'm honored to have been a part of that. 

You have spoken previously about your "found family.” I wanted to know what is a "found family” by your definition, and how has yours changed your life for the better?

Your found family are the people that stick by your side through thick and thin. The unconditional love I feel with my found family is what makes up my definition. We fight, we yell, we pop off, but we are always there to support one another, and that’s something I know will never change. The love is unconditional, and they are critical to my world. They each played such an important role in this film. One of my best friends Cara was the producer, my other best friend Briana, who is featured in the film, was the costume designer, and my partner, Ben, who worked alongside me through it all, served as the creative director and helped to write, direct, and score the film. 

Are there any recent projects you have worked on that you’re really excited about? 

My recent partnership with Converse was such an incredible project. Creating my first film, Savitree, was such a cathartic experience for me, celebrating my journey, where I came from, and who I want to be next has really allowed me to open up in new ways. In my work with Converse on the Found Family campaign, the team provided me the resources to tell my story and celebrate the power of community, love, and acceptance. 

Watching your film was incredibly inspiring, and learning about your relationship with your mother really touched me. How did her relationship with you help you grow into the powerful force you are today? 

Our relationship instilled in me having strength and persevering through all of life’s obstacles no matter what. It’s always about keeping a positive mindsight and never giving up on your dreams. 

You have talked about your close relationship with your good friends Julia Fox and Briana Andalore. Do you have any funny memories of the three of you that you can share with me? I am such a fan of your friend group, so I have to ask. 

I would say our daily text correspondence is pretty iconic because we’re always sending each other funny, uplifting jokes, and we’re constantly connecting and plugging with each other. When we’re reminiscing about old stories from when we lived together and shared space, it’s the best time. 

If you could give one piece of advice to the younger version of Richie, what would you tell them? 

I would tell them that everything is going to be okay. Continue to push down doors and continue being a rebel and not conforming—don’t ever cave for anyone. Be who you want to be. 

Shop Converse:

Next, check out these shopping guides.

Assistant Editor

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Grace has always been a lover of all things fashion and beauty. Upon receiving her first degree in visual communications from FIDM in Los Angeles, she moved to New York City and continued her education at LIM College, majoring in fashion media with a minor in society and culture. Grace has worked for PhotoBook magazine, Insider, and Harper's Bazaar. As a writer, Grace has had pieces published covering topics including racial justice, fashion, politics, and current events. During her free time, she loves wine tasting, creating content for her social media, spending time with friends, traveling to new places, and Pilates, and has a love for reality television, especially The Real Housewives. Grace is the person in your friend group everyone goes to for recommendations for the best place to grab drinks in NYC on a Friday night or the best hotels and restaurants to try when traveling to a new city. While fashion is her main love, she loves all things wellness and lifestyle as well. Her ideal sunday is brunching with friends then walking around furniture shopping and listening to a podcast. As the assistant shopping editor at Who What Wear, Grace loves finding the best buys out there for the WWW readers.