Model and actor Ryan Young photographed exclusively in Los Angeles by prolific fashion and celebrity photographer Tony Duran for Male Model Scene editorials. Ryan who is living and working in Los Angeles is represented by LA Models / LAM2.
With the rest of the images below, find our chat with Ryan, where we talked about modeling, acting, and healthy lifestyle.
How were you discovered?
I started modeling while I was still in high school. I was in a community play at the time and my co-star had just begun working as an agent/booker in Chicago. Paige really helped me get going. She lit the fire that still burns inside me by just suggesting that I might do well. I knew I loved acting, but modeling seemed so foreign. Yet I took the chance. Before I knew it, she had set up a photographer test session and I booked my first job. Not too long after, I moved to Los Angeles with my heart focused on acting while I finished college. A couple years passed as I took a break from anything model related, but then some friends of a friend sent me to a casting for one of Macy’s famous Passport runway shows. I booked it a couple of years in a row and I attribute my work there with the success I’ve had ever since. Another model, who had been a fixture in the shows for years previous, was also a booker. Sherry took me on, helped get me going and I was on my way. To both of these special women who believed in me, I cannot say it enough: Thank you.
What do you prefer, East coast, West coast or your hometown Chicago?
Oh man, I have to choose? I loved growing up just outside Chicago. It was the idyllic, all-American, suburban upbringing: playing the in the woods, riding my bike with friends around the neighborhood, trading baseball cards and late summer evening barbecues with fireflies lighting up the backyard. As I got older I loved sneaking into the city without my parents knowing and exploring. Chicago is and will always be home; its remarkably beautiful, the architecture, the history, the warmness of the people… the Cubs! Yet I had this collection of movie posters plastered on my bedroom walls. They constantly teased me with my biggest dream at the time, the dream of moving west to California, to LA. The dream was with me from as early as I can remember. After spending my first year of college in Chicago, I took a leap of faith, made the move, and never looked back. Its been over ten years now and I love LA more than ever. Yeah, on one hand its a one industry town; entertainment, but at its core the city is built on creativity and storytelling. There is a sense of opportunity here, that dreams can come true with the right amount of dedication and work. On top of it all its not hard living in a city that offers the possibility of going skiing and hitting the beach in the same day! …and New York… I have such a love affair with the ultimate American city. Every time I go for work or just for pleasure, I’m that guy who claims he’s never leaving. Its the fast-paced energy that gets me. That moment when I walk out onto the sidewalk and am immediately just one guy in a sea of others all trying to accomplish great things. New York has a way of reminding me of my humility while also encouraging me to go for it! New York is a living, breathing showcase of how diverse this country is…and that should be celebrated. So East Coast, West or Chicago… tough to answer.
What do you find more important acting or modeling? And how do you balance the two.
I see acting and modeling as two sides of the same coin. Great acting tells a story even without having to speak a word; the best modeling does the same. Both professions are collaborative, each taking a team – even if its just an actor and a cameraman/director or a model and a photographer- working together to get the best possible product on film. My journey has included both from roughly the same point in life and each has taught me lessons about the other. While acting I need to know the genre I’m playing in; horror, drama, comedy, action, etc. Much the same holds true in the modeling world but there I play in lifestyle, commercial, fashion or fitness. Regardless of the genre, there is one universal element connecting it all: its the willingness to express, to show my vulnerability, to show whats happening behind my eyes. Being comfortable with who I am and not just letting myself be seen, but knowing that that is my calling card. In my opinion, the best gift we have to give to one another are ourselves. For me this is heightened simply because there are very few things more intimate then the lens of a camera. It reads back to us exactly what we’re giving, exactly what we are feeling. Lately I’ve been shooting with Tony Duran. Yes, while he’s a fashion and celebrity photographer, the work we’ve done together is already impacting the way in which I approach acting as a craft. Tony demands a model to both live in and leave his skin at the same time. He strives to capture the unposed, unscripted, moments that produce the best images. And that is the best acting, those moments when I, as an actor, forget I’m acting and am just playing, just being in that particular moment.
Fashion industry often sets almost impossible standards when it comes to a models body. As an athlete do you think its possible to stay fit and healthy, and retain the measurements often required by fashion clients.
I give the Universe, God, whatever you want to it call gratitude on this one; I was born into a family with good genetics. My parents, along with my six siblings, are all healthy and whether practicing or not, athletic people. My brothers and I are all on the taller end with a genetically lean disposition. If anything, I struggle to keep some weight on so that I stay at fit and sample size. On any given day you can find me out on a long run of at least 13 miles, usually plus, and then in the gym lifting weights. Currently I’m training for an ultra run that will take place in January 2015; 270 miles spanning the distance across California from the Pacific ocean to the Arizona border. I’ve trained long distances before for traditional marathons and saw my body shrink. This time around, I’m determined to stay at a healthy weight, size and proportion by watching my caloric intake, eating well and often, and enjoying more than one protein shakes per day. I think fitness and health are not disconnected to the modeling world; I think they are vital for long term success.
Favorite modeling experience so far?
I love traveling, exploring the world, seeing new places. And I love nature. A couple years ago I did some modeling work for a major cruise ship company that took me to Alaska for a couple of weeks. Wow. Just wow. I wasn’t prepared for the beauty I saw on a daily basis. We flew into Fairbanks and from there traveled the state, shooting the extra excursions the cruising passengers could opt in for. Standing on a glacier, rafting down river rapids, touring a husky breeder that raises and trains dogs for the Iditarod, eating as fresh as they come lobster tails soaked in butter, spotting bears and elk as we explored Denali National Park…all while working, while getting paid. Are you serious? To me it doesn’t get much better than that.
Favorite acting experience, and what is your dream role?
Maybe its an assumption, but any good actor loves improv, comedy or dramatic. I did an indie feature film in which the director not only encouraged us to improv but we spent a series of weeks before a script was even written in improv workshops flushing out what was the outline of a script. I would show up to a session ready for anything, ready to play with the only details and direction the director whispered in my ear. He would go around the room to the other actors and do the same. Then scene would begin. The experience of creating my character from the ground up over weeks was a lesson I carry into every acting endeavor. My dream role… hmm, tough one. Currently while not acting, modeling, auditioning and hitting castings or running, I’m behind my computer writing my first feature. Its the story of one man out to change the world; the story of how this man stood up for an oppressed people in Latin America; the story of how he used his singular voice to get the world’s attention and collectively make a difference. Years ago I became aware of his story and he’s been my hero ever since. Once the script is written there is a large part of me that would love to play him, its a dream role; but me or not, I want to film to be made, for the story to be out in the public eye. Comedy or drama, roles like the one I’m writing are the roles I love the most; ones in which the leading man is out to prove something but along his journey discovers who he is. Ralph Fiennes in The Constant Gardener. Michael Douglas in The American President. Cary Grant in North by Northwest. Or Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh, the Flying Sikh, in my favorite picture of the moment, an Indian film called Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.
What the future holds for Ryan Young?
More of the same but amped up! I love the work I’ve done and want to continue it through new experiences, trying out new paths and seeking new adventures. This Fall will bring a couple of those, as I’ll be busy shooting some new films. One, a feature that takes places in Palm Springs that examines the current state of intimate relationships; its about today’s challenges in finding and keeping love. The other will be the feature length version of a successful short-film I was in last year called “Finding Dad.” What happens when a teenage boy shows up on the steps of a happily, married couple’s doorstep, claiming to be one of their sons? And finally you all will be able to come see me in an original play written by playwright/screenwriter Gerald Olson called “ I Love, I Want. I Hurt.” This play I’m thrilled and so honored to be a part of. The story opens on a man and woman in a hotel bed, just having met at a doctor’s office. Both are dealing with unexpected life moments that if we do our jobs right, will leave you laughing, crying and asking yourselves some profound questions all in one short evening. All the while, I’ll be enjoying my modeling work, laughing, seeking out good conversation and finding time to fit in another run!
(Discover the uncensored images on our tumblr page)