If you’re a fan of EMPIRE and STAR Wednesdays like we are over here at Live Civil than you are very familiar with Ryan Destiny. Ryan plays Alexandra Crane, an aspiring singer/songwriter/dancer who left her lavish life with her celebrity parents played by the legendary Lenny Kravitz and Naomi Campbell to thug it out in Atlanta with her super talented girl group in hopes to “make it big”.
Before her role on Empire and Star, Ryan was apart of Russell Simmon’s All Def label’s R&B girl group Love DollHouse. She has been compared to the likes of actress and author, Gabrielle Union. Union says in her book “We’re going to need more wine” that not only can Ryan act but, “she can sing and dance!”.
Ryan Destiny is just getting started, outside of STAR she is planning to release a solo EP and has signed with Capitol Records. We wanted to get to know the beautiful brown skin girl that immediately caught our eye, so we decided to catch up with her and indulge in some girl talk.
In this interview, we discuss the struggles and revelations of being a woman of darker skin, the main components that every musical girl group needs to truly survive, her relationship with Gabrielle Union, her up and coming EP, and of course BOYS, and more. Grab a glass of wine or cup of tea and a notepad because sis is about to drop some serious gems!
For those who don’t know…who is Ryan Destiny?
I am somebody that want’s to make a mark as somebody that just loves people and broke boundaries and was just themselves all the time. That is me in a nutshell.
Most people know you from Empire and Star on FOX, how did the role of Star come about after things ended for you with Empire?
The role came from the casting director Leah Daniels, she was just such a big believer in me thankfully and supporter. So when things in Empire fell through she really wanted me to audition for STAR and at first I wasn’t really about it because it was about a girl group and I had just gotten out of a real girl group a few months before. So, I was just like yea, I don’t really think that this is for me but I did it anyway. I auditioned for it and I got it, and now I’m here.
What do you love/respect most about Lee Daniels and his work?
The thing I respect the most about him is that he is very vulnerable with his work and telling stories. He is living his truth in his work and the way that he tells stories is really based off of the things that he has gone through. I really respect that about him because that’s not easy to do, it’s not easy to let people into your life that much even if it is a movie or a show. It is important to do and I think it speaks volumes and really opens people’s minds. If the topic or story being highlighted is something that people are not used to or don’t necessarily know too much about Lee Daniels is really big on showing a whole different perspective on that certain topic. I love that about him and his work.
What new dynamic does Star bring to television and entertainment, why should everybody be tuning in?
STAR is so dynamic to me, it really is a rich show. I’m somebody who is very honest with my work and stuff that I do. If it’s trash and I’m on it, I’m going to say that it is trash but I really think that it is something that is not on television right now. We are singing and dancing and it’s so many beautiful types of people in this cast that are so different. We have a transgender (Amiyah Scott) and the group is made up of 3 different girls that come from different places (Jude Demorest, Brittany O’ Grady, and Ryan Destiny), and are white, mixed, and black.
I just think that is very different, simply, it’s a very different show than anything else that’s on right now. It’s very cool for people to watch and learn different things too because it touches on a lot of hard topics.
The diversity of the girl group in the show truly stands out to viewers, it highlights the differences in women from personality to style and even to skin tone. Growing up with darker skin and as a brown skin girl, did you experience any colorism?
I have definitely experienced it in my personal life while growing up and in the industry, it’s just in the society period. Different things that I would go through would just be simply people not thinking that I am beautiful. People literally not liking me, whether it be a guy that I like or just anybody not liking me because of my skin color, being embarrassed by it and you know, not thinking it’s beautiful because they see a lighter skin tone on television being praised or they hear it in a song by one of their favorite rappers. It’s just always been a thing that even I at a certain point thought was right. I would think, “Oh yeah, you’re right. I’m not beautiful because I’m this color like I want to be lighter”, that would literally go through my mind. That’s a terrible space to be in, especially when you don’t even realize it. When I finally did realize it, and it finally clicked for me, it really truly was a complete shift in my life and it was a genuine shift.
When I realized it, it wasn’t in a time when social media was in this great space where we are showing so much love to one another and so much support of all of our skin tones and diversity. Being loved now I think more than ever really still has such a far way to go because it’s still such a huge issue that’s happening. When I realized it, it’s something that I literally had to pull from myself, I was like, “WOAH! It clicked like I am so beautiful and my skin color is so great and grand and I should not feel like I want to have my skin lightened.”. It also wasn’t a thing where I felt like I had to put down a lighter skin girl, I feel like that’s another huge issue that we have to. Because of jealousy and the way people are brought up, they like to put down a lighter skin person and I think a lot of times is happening to now where darker skin girls are being praised so much, now people are kind of going down this other road where they don’t really like light skin girls, and it just doesn’t make any sense to me.
It’s almost a trend now and I feel like now some dark skin girls aren’t truly loving themselves, they’re loving themselves because it’s what’s hot right now. It should not matter if it’s hot or not, you should love yourself regardless. I just want to really express that and let people know how real that is, and how important it is to really mentally have a shift in your mind. Screw society, screw what is in front of me right now, I am beautiful regardless and I’m going to do this and succeed in this regardless. It’s very important to me and it’s definitely something that I am forever going to speak on because it’s very very real.
As a platform that highlights everything that deals with black women and their magic, we have been dying to find out what your skin care regimen is. What foundation do you use because we all know that Fenty beauty just came out with the perfect matches for all of us. You’re known for glowing and having that melanin poppin’ skin, what’s been your secret?
Honestly, I went through a whole thing with my skin where I was breaking out really bad, so it’s just crazy now how people are like, “What do you do with your skin?!” and I’m just like, “wow this has been a long time comin'”.
I use a lot of products that don’t have a lot of extra stuff in there. Vanicreme is one of the products that I use, but mainly their face washes because it’s very simple. Some of the stuff that I used to use had a lot of acid and extra chemicals that would dry my skin out and that would not help me at all, I would actually break out even more. So, gentle and simple products are very helpful and aloe vera gel has been the best to me ever!
Whenever I do break out, because I still do, I want people to know that I use a product by Mario Badescu. It’s a spa treatment that you use it’s in a little pink bottle and it’s drying lotion, that I’m telling you will save your life when you’re breaking out I promise!
As far as cosmetics, I use Giorgio Armani, that foundation goes on like silk and it’s not very heavy and that’s the best part. It is important to not use heavy makeup, that’s very crucial to skin care period. Now as far as how long that list is of darker colors, they need to step that up because Fenty just blew everybody out the water for that. Another brand that’s good with skin color for darker women to is AJ Crimson, they truly have a variety as well.
You’ve been compared to the likes of actresses like Gabrielle Union. In her book, “We’re Going To Need More Wine”, she talks about competition and how when she first met you she thought to herself:
“Bitch, fuck you. You want me to mentor you? The press is literally calling you the next Gabrielle Union….”except she can sing and dance!”
How do you feel about the statement that was made and what is your relationship like with her now?
That was very weird to me, weird in a good way because I didn’t expect her to put me in her book period. I remember the time that we did meet, which is the situation she was addressing in her book and she was very nice. I wouldn’t have known that she was thinking any of the stuff that she said she was thinking in her head at all. It’s interesting because she was just talking to me and we were just chopping it up about what I was filming at the time and I was just struggling mentally with stuff within the show because there is always some drama and she was just being supportive of that and she told me to push through it.
Our relationship is great right now, we’re very supportive of each other. She’s supportive of me, thankfully and I appreciate her vulnerability in the book and how she expressed how she felt truly about it all and overcoming certain things within that. So it’s cool, and I really do think that there is room for all of us and she’s Gabrielle Union so I think she definitely is so good on me and I am no threat. I think that we have a great future ahead as far as our relationship and what could happen because doing a movie with her would be amazing or any type of project would be really cool.
You’re a triple threat, you dance, sing, and act. Star has given you the opportunity to do all of that on what platform. Can you talk to us more about your musical career outside of Star?
Yes, I’ve been recording my own solo music for the past 2 years now. I am in the process of putting out an EP, entitled On One’s Own and I’m really excited about it because it will really just be me. People will really see the difference between the songs on the show vs. who I actually am and what I can create and what I make. I take a lot of different elements but for this project, you can say that it is R&B based and it’s just chill. I’m a dancer too so it’s going to be a lot of that as well, it’s going to be fun, I’m excited.
You are in a girl group on the set of Star and have actually been in one in real life, Doll House. What do you believe are the main components that every girl group needs to thrive and be successfully happy has a group and as individuals?
It’s a very difficult thing and I think the main downfall that I had in my experience was simply and truly be friends. There is a lot of people in the industry that think that you can throw girls together and they think that you can just say, “Okay, be friends now” and it will be fake at that point, it’s very forced and that will never resonate. Sometimes it happens that way and thank God it can, but it will only happen if they truly connect. If they don’t and they are like faking it in interviews and faking it in the public, it will always end badly. Somebody is going to leave, somebody is going to be replaced. People are able to see that, and that’s not what girls want to see, they want to see girls that are true friends and once they see that they are not, it’s like, “Oh, this is going to end”. So I think that is a huge part of being a girl group, you really have to love each other.
Individually it’s the same thing, you’re going to have to be your authentic self with anything. Whether you’re in a group or not so as long as you keep those things in mind and you know what audience you’re speaking to and why you’re doing it, then that can really help along the way.
You’re dating a fine young man by the name of Keith Powers. What do you look for in a guy and what is your outtake on dating as a millennial and especially in the industry?
What I look for in a guy is everything that Keith is. It’s very very hard to please me, especially now because I’ve seen a lot of different people and it’s hard to get me and it’s hard to play me. It’s just tricky, especially in the space that I’m in, I’m very career based and that’s always first for me. So to be in the industry it’s very tricky and as long as you both realize where you’re at in life and you realize that certain things are going to have to be sacrificed but you still respect them and love them and you guys have an understanding then things will be easier. It helps me having somebody who is in the industry because you guys understand each other on a different level. You’re busy, they’re busy so that helps and I know people think that it may be a thing like we don’t get to talk as much or there’s no time but it helps because we’re young, we’re living our lives. The number one thing that’s been important to me not having any pressure, there’s no pressure on it things go a lot smoother. When you feel like there’s something weighing down on you and you feel like you have to please them or please everybody else. Being in the public eye in a relationship can get tough too which is why we’re pretty low key but a lot of opinions can come into play and that’s pressure within itself, so you really have to keep that out. The pressure sucks.
Out of all of your female peers in the industry who is inspiring you the most right now and why?
I have always been influenced especially by entertainers, people like Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, and Prince. I’m huge on singers like Brandy, Lauryn Hill, and India Arie. As far as acting goes, ugh it’s always so hard choosing people because I love my people so anybody that’s going hard right now really. It’s so many young aspiring actors that are really killing it and I’m just a fan, I’m a fan of all of us right now that are just pushing these boundaries and going in these different directions that people don’t usually see us in, whether black or another race. I really do love every actor that’s coming up right now and I think we’re really doing different things with how much we can do too, we’re not just actors and we’re not just singers we can do a lot more and we can make a change in the industry and the world.
What’s next for Ryan Destiny and what do you want the world to know about you?
I will just say, you will see. I am always and forever evolving and my journey I feel like is going to be a long one. I’m definitely always going to keep people updated but there are a lot of things that people don’t know and I’m excited about the future and I just want everybody to know that I’m a lover and an entertainer.