Actors

What Happened to Ariana Richards?

Ariana Richards was one of the shining stars since her role as Lex Murphy in Jurassic Park. But what happened to her, and where is she now?


Ariana Richards with co-stars

You might know Ariana Richards as Lex Murphy from Jurassic Park. She’s one of the strong characters in the blockbuster movie, but we haven’t heard of Richards since her great success as a young artist in Hollywood.

Ever since we first saw her on the big screen, we all concluded she’d only go up from there. But she didn’t. Although her career as an actress was moving pretty smoothly, with only ups and no downs, we didn’t get to see her since her time in the world of dinosaurs.

Ariana Richards, AKA Lex Murphy

Ariana Richards

While she hasn’t starred in hundreds of movies, the ones she did appear in were mostly global hits. Especially Jurassic Park, which is still one of the most highly successful movies around the globe even after all these years.

Jurassic Park conquered hearts with its extraordinary visual imagery, thrill, and adventure that not many other films were able to execute flawlessly at its time of release. The first ever installment of the series, released in 1993, grossed over $914 million worldwide in its original theatrical run.

Jurassic Park thus became the highest-grossing film of that time. The movie went on to hold the record for 4 straight years until it was outperformed by Titanic in 1997.

Ariana Richards played one of the most important characters in Jurassic Park, grabbing herself the role of Lex Murphy that lasted throughout the screen time of one of the highest-grossing movies ever!

She had a cameo appearance in the second installment of Jurassic Park, but we never saw her in another global hit.

Ariana Richards – The Successful Child Actor

Ariana Richards

The first ever movie that Richards appeared in dates way back to 1987. Back in that time, she had a role in the film Into the Homeland, a made-for-cable release that starred Powers Boothe.

In 1990, the young Richards took on the role of Mindy Sterngood in the first installment of Tremors. She then reprised her role in the second sequel of Tremors in 2001, Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, which ultimately marked her final appearance in the Tremors series of films. 

Although the second sequel of Tremors was a direct-to-video film, the first installments of Tremors are globally recognized. 

Later in 1993, Richards landed the greatest role in her career as Lex Murphy in the first Jurassic Park movie, which still holds its place as one of the highest-grossing movies of all time!

Her final appearance in the Jurassic Park movies was in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, the sequel to the first installment, where she briefly reprised her role.

The successful young actress of the 90s won multiple awards for her performance in Jurassic Park, including the award for the Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture in 1993.

Other Minor Roles…

In addition to her biggest role in Jurassic Park, Richards has also featured in multiple other films. She played the role of a high school cheerleader named Melissa Lefevre in the movie Angus, released back in 1995. 

She also appeared in episodes of multiple TV series like The Golden Girls, Empty Nest, and Boy Meets World

Although she was pursuing a robust career in acting, we didn’t see her presence on-screen for a very long time until 2013. While she did appear in a few music videos in the meantime, Richard’s next major appearance was in the 2013 movie Battledogs, in which she played the character Donna Voorhees.

In February 2014, the actress was voted No.98 on VH1’s Greatest Child Stars. However, since her appearance in Battledogs, Richards walked further away from acting. 

What Happened to Her?

Ariana Richards

Ariana Richards was once a successful child actor. Because she was active on screen at such a young age, she had her priority set on education and getting a degree. She took a break from acting to focus on her studies, but she hasn’t returned to the screen yet.

She earned her BS in Drama and Art from Skidmore college. After graduation, she went on to continue her studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena

Leaving acting to pursue other interests was common among many other child actors around the 90s. Another such example is how Frankie Muniz stepped away from acting to become a racecar driver.

If you’re wondering what Richards is doing now, she’s currently a successful painter. Richards has an art gallery in Portland, Oregon. She also has three studios spread across the United States, South America, and Europe.

Ariana Richards and Painting: The History

Ariana Richards painting

She believes painting is in her blood. It’s pretty convincing too as the early Italian Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli is one of her ancestors. Plus, her grandmother was also a professional painter, who, in fact, taught her color theory at the age of ten and became Richard’s first serious mentor.

Richards was into painting even during her acting days. She remembers how she used to paint during breaks while shooting Jurassic Park. The director of the blockbuster movie, Steven Spielberg, even has a painting by the young Richards framed in his house. 

But did she give up on acting? According to her, no. Although she’s immersed in her work as a painter, she still cares about acting and even has an agent. 

Richards ultimately revealed she would try her hand if the right role came knocking on her door. She also specified that for her, it was all about finding a role or part that she likes, whether that’s in acting or other voice-over work.

Conclusion

Ariana Richards has certainly been one of the most successful child actors of the 90s. Even though she had the spotlight all to herself with her role as Lex Murphy in Jurassic Park, Richards had other priorities and passions that changed her course of life.

Growing up as a child actor, she decided to cater to her interests in painting, which ultimately led her to take a break from acting and shift her focus to getting a degree in art. 

So although she dominated Hollywood at such a young age, we didn’t get to see her on-screen much since her greatest performance on the land of dinosaurs!

While she’s fully focused on painting right now, Richards is also waiting for the right role that’ll hopefully take her back to acting. 


I’m Aman, a freelance content writer since my 13 years of age. I’ve been writing for 7+ years now, successfully engaging and educating readers. Featured in prominent publications like The Startup, The Writing Cooperative, and The Ascent, I consider myself a well-versed writer in multiple areas, where I've always been able to prove my excellence and expertise. In my free time, I love watching movies and TV shows. I binge-watch a lot, and I consider myself blessed to be able to write about stuff I love!