Name: Debby Ann Ryan
Job Title: Actress and Musician
Her Campus: What does your current job entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
Debby Ryan: I work 14 to 15 hour days on set and on the weekends I’m producing songs. Taking the time to think about the future and what’s important in my life is something I’m learning. I don’t go shopping too often; I don’t spend a lot of money on myself. Once a month, I get a massage for myself, because I need to take some “Debby and detox” time.
HC: What was your first experience in your field and how did it inspire you to do what you do now?
DR: When I had to leave Germany, I found a solution to losing the playhouse I was involved in: television commercials. I used to watch the commercials and ask my mom if I could do that. Originally, acting was my plan to help pay for medical school in the future, but instead it bloomed into this amazing career. I really didn’t think that acting was something [I] could do to support myself. I’ve been very blessed.
HC: What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?
DR: Know that there will be people who underestimate you. I really like shocking people, showing them things that they never thought I was capable of. The only reason I have a strong sense of self is because I have an open mind—I never give up and I never settle.
HC: Who is one person who influences your professional and personal life?
DR: My best friend, Emma, has been like my sister since seventh grade. She’s really into philanthropy and changing the world. She’s had to battle with family sickness, too. When I’m thinking ‘I can’t find a dress for the VMAs; what am I going to do?’ I call her and ask how her day has been and she’s preparing to go to India or battling with [the sickness in her family]. She’s always been a cool voice of reason for me and such a support system.
HC: Who or what has made you stronger in this tough industry?
DR: I’ve kicked a lot of doors down and I’ve had some slammed in my face. But without all of the yeses and no’s, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. My family isn’t afraid to tell me the ways in which I need to grow, which is really important to me. I think there’s something to be said about having absolute faith in a human being.
HC: What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?
DR: In the past I have found myself sacrificing some of my own opportunities [to help others]. I’m the kind of person who looks at people in terms of their potential, and I think there are some people who don’t always believe in their potential. I’ve stayed up [all hours] to be someone’s shoulder to cry on even though they wouldn’t do the same for me.
HC: What is something you love about your job and what is something you hope to accomplish with that passion?
DR: I’ve learned a lot from being the youngest on the [Suite Life] set. It was three years of growth for me, learning everything I possibly could. Now, I’m helping them develop this new show, and I’m the oldest person [in the cast]. I had the opportunity to interview people, develop the looks, and [brainstorm] the dynamics of the characters. It was fascinating to watch all of these people come together and create this vision.
HC: You’re very passionate about your acting career; are you as serious about pursuing music?
DR: I never wanted to make music a career. I’m kind of a perfectionist; I don’t things unless [I know I’m ready to give it my all]. I feel like music is something people don’t respect as much anymore because it can be so instantaneous. There isn’t a day that I don’t write music or lyrics, though.
Without acting I’d be a completely different person. Music and writing is not a career; it’s an art form or a release. I’d love to be able to write and produce music to movies or TV shows. I haven’t limited myself to one thing, and that’s why I’ve been able to grow so much. That’s been my goal as a human and an artist.
HC: What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?
DR: Put yourself first; be good to yourself. [I’ve learned that] Hollywood doesn’t owe you anything; they don’t know if you’ve sacrificed anything in your family life, for example. You’re going to get to where you’re going whether or not you mistreat yourself. I live by the golden rule, and I also believe that you shouldn’t hoard a whole lot of responsibilities. Keep it local and keep it trustworthy.