Cross Connection to Stardom, a Conversation with Nathaniel Ryan

The lights of New York City lure artists from all over the globe like moths to the proverbial flame.  Hundreds flock to this concrete jungle in search of big game.  But the starry-eyed  desire of fame isn’t just a dream for those who migrate to The Big Apple.  Before Jennifer Lopez was reminding everyone that she was just Jenny from the block, she rode the six train from the Bronx into Manhattan in search of her big break.  Maxwell rode the J train before he ascended on top of the music charts.  Nathaniel Ryan is a New York City artist poised to make the transfer from anonymity to prominence.  Singer, actor, model, playwright…Ryan has several conduits that can take him to the Promised Land.  If his future is as bright as his smile, then Ryan’s prospects are as vast as The Milky Way.  And his humble demeanor only make him more intriguing.  50 Cent asked 21 questions, but I only ask 10…

Usually I don’t begin interviews with this question, but after reading your biography I just have to ask…what is an actor, singer and model doing with an MBA from Clark Atlanta University?

While in High School and College I never thought about acting, drama or singing.   I went to Morgan State University and studied Finance.   While there I also modeled in the school’s Fashion shows.  After an internship on Wall Street, I went back to school and studied finance at Clark Atlanta University.  After I graduated I soon found that being behind a desk was not an ideal life for me.  I met a photographer who took pictures for my first comp card. From there I started getting work.  I started taking classes.  And as they say I was hooked.

Your bio stated you were born in Brooklyn.  Were you also raised in Brooklyn and if so, how did growing up in a borough known for being eclectic influence you artistically?

I am a native New Yorker.  Born and raised in Flatbush Brooklyn.  Flatbush was a great area to grow up in.  I grew up around West Indians, Jews and a lot of other cultures and races.  My mom made sure she took me to see Broadway shows, the museum, and the library.  Subconsciously I think that it has had a profound impact on me and the way I think and how I perceive art.  It’s not something I appreciated growing up but I am glad I did those things now as an adult.

Who are your three biggest acting influences?

My three biggest acting influences are: Don Cheadle, Forest Whitaker and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

You have acted on film and stage.  Hollywood is the Mecca for film, but Broadway is the Mecca of the theatre world.  Which medium do you prefer and why?

I love [the] theatre.  Being on stage keeps you on your toes.  And every show is different.  I ultimately would like to do more film and television, but as of right now I am enjoying my pursuit to be a working actor on Broadway.

Out of all the roles you have played, which one has been the most fun? Which has been the most challenging? And why?

Every role has played has given me an opportunity to grow as an actor.  I love working on original thought provoking pieces.  Bringing a character to life is a challenge in itself.  I would say my greatest challenge has been playing a survivor of the holocaust in Rwanda.  Truthfully playing a man who survived such horrors was a challenge and humbling to say the least.

Name your dream role on stage and on film?

A dream role would be to play an original character or [a] historical person Huey Newtown, Marcus Garvey [or] Emperor Haile Selassie.  Men who have taken on impossible odds and thrived.

As a singer, who are your influences?

As a vocalist I am growing and coming into my own.  Some of my influences are Donny Hathaway, Daryl Coley and Ella Fitzgerald.

How would you describe your vocal style?

My vocal style is still growing.  Right now I would say my favorite style is Jazz and Gospel.  But I would say I am not clinging to one particular style.

Are you in the process of recording a demo or an EP?

No.  I am not recording a demo or EP at the moment.

If Diddy and Tyler Perry came to you and offered you the opportunity to sign a three album contract and a world tour or a deal for six films and a starring role on a TV show, which would you choose and why?

If Diddy and Tyler Perry came to me and offered me the opportunity to sign a three album contract and a world tour or a deal for six films and starring role in a TV show I would choose Diddy.  I love Diddy’s work.  I grew up listening to him and his artists.  I also like his work ethic.  I respect him and his work.   As a recording artist I could parlay that into commercial, co-star and other acting opportunities.

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Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Ryan