“Ryan Phoenix: The Good, The Bad, The #BookofRyan”
A Glimpse into the Life of a Cleveland Actor
By Ryan Phoenix
My first time walking onto a Hollywood set felt surreal. It was everything I imagined—hectic and exciting—but I felt comfort in the chaos like I belonged there.
I’m Ryan Phoenix. I essentially work two full-time jobs but I’m a total Aries and we can manage it. In the last two years, I have filmed and modeled in six states while working my day job in a fast-paced customer service setting for a Fortune 500 Company. As an actor, I’ve played supporting and lead roles, as well as a featured extra, I’ve performed stunt work, and I’ve served as an executive producer. I sold my BMW for a Fiat because it gets 61 miles to the gallon, making it affordable for long drives.
I am a musician-turned-actor/model from Cleveland, Ohio. I earned my bachelor’s in Psychology from Kent State University. I spent a year at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA where I studied theater acting. After 25 years of performing in rock bands, I switched to film acting. Five years ago, this became my new art medium and passion. Two years ago, I met casting director Angela Boehm outside a bar in Tremont and shortly after that, she introduced me to my first Hollywood experience. I was only an extra but this role gave me that first taste of the industry; I was immediately hooked!
“Acting is the Illumination of the Soul” ~ Michael Caine
My type cast is playing villains or tough guys and I’m teary-eyed as I write this part! The more I’ve studied acting and performed on camera, the more I’ve learned about myself. You’ll hear other actors talk about this. I see it as a “looking-glass-self.” I think a better understanding of yourself is imperative to advance in any field, and as a method actor, I think it’s extra important. They say you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself. Well, you’ve got to love your character and understand their psyche, too. A method actor draws experiences and emotions from their life and applies it to the character. As for my musician days, I was very fortunate to have band mates who gave me guidance and helped culminate my best performances. I’m so thankful that I found the same with a production company here in Cleveland. There are so many talented actors and filmmakers. I’m also lucky that my parents help immensely—whether it’s getting me to the airport or providing a warm meal before I hit the road. Their sacrifice and hard work have molded me into the man I am today. I owe them everything.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny” ~ C.S. Lewis
Something that is not manageable is the “haters.” Anytime you are in the spotlight you open yourself up to judgment. That’s just fundamental. Everyone is a critic. Short story: A few months ago, I was on a 4-hour flight to LA and sat next to a commercially successful rapper who was originally from Cleveland. We chatted it up on the flight. He told me to be ready. Warned me. “As the love for you intensifies,” he said, “so does the hate two or three times over. It will come from someone close to you and blind side you. Be ready.” He said he wished someone had warned him. About a month later, I got to experience it from my inner circle and it gave me a new perspective. You can’t take it personally. Move on. My motto for 2017 is, keep it light and recognize what’s worth the energy. Our time on this planet is much too short.
I blew myself up.
In a sea of talent, you have to stick out and brand yourself. The Book of Ryan is the hashtag I utilize on social media. In the height of my band days, we briefly had an amazing publicist. She introduced me to guerrilla marketing strategies. I’m also a grass roots guy. In my band days, touring was my favorite part of the job—playing various venues, shaking hands with new people. One fan at a time kind of approach.
Last summer, as a joke with some friends, I dressed up as Jesus at the Taste of Tremont and then decided to hand out my Instagram cards in exchange for photo ops. I made 100 new followers in one day and got some press online. I’m excited for 2017 and like many other actors, I hope this is my year to break! Atlanta, New York, and LA—all on the books for what I anticipate will become another exciting chapter for the #BookofRyan.
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