We had the good fortune of connecting with Antoinette Ryan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Antoinette, why did you pursue a creative career?
I grew up with an alcoholic father and an emotionally distant mother. In life, I strived for perfection to the point of breaking. I was depressed and questioning my purpose in life and tried to remember what it was that just made me happy. The answer to that was theater. Ironically being in front of people at my most vulnerable was the only place I felt safe. I didn’t pursue a career in the arts because it was fun. I chose it because I realized my happiness meant more to me than societal norms, peer pressure, and all my childhood trauma. One of my favorite theater teachers once said “We are perfectly imperfect” and I try to remind myself of that every day. There is no perfect in a creative space, humans are flawed and I’ve come to realize that is part of our beauty. I am so thankful for the arts and the amazing people I’ve met. I am reminded that every day is precious and every story deserves to be told.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The thing that sets me apart is my ability to take risks. Sometimes I can’t get my inner spectator to shut off. But, when I do I always find the most interesting choices. Over the years I have gotten better at shutting them off but I still have far to go. I am excited about my future growth and how far I have come. I got where I am today solely because of my support system. My greatest challenge was learning to take up space. Being a woman of color I have always felt the need to take up as little space as possible. To shrink myself to make others more comfortable. Trying to rewire those thoughts has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I have learned that my voice matters. What I bring to the table is just as important as anyone else because my perspective is unique. I want the world to know that being vulnerable is the bravest thing you can do and my story is a reflection of that.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live near St. Marks place so that is always my go-to spot when I want to hang out with someone. You can literally eat drink and be merry all day long. I’ll stop by Dumpling Man to grab my favorite chicken dumplings and Monster sauce. Before laying in the grass in Thompkins square park to eat and watch the dogs go nuts in the dog run. If we are feeling adventurous I actually like to go out of the city to long island. Make sure you have on some dusty sneakers and comfortable clothes because we are going ziplining and doing obstacle courses in the air at Adventure Park. I prefer to do it around 7 pm on summer nights so we can get the glow-in-the-dark experience. By the time we get back to the city If you are still up for more. We will shower and get dressed up for La Caverna to dance and smoke hookah inside a cave.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I dedicate my shoutout to my grandmother Barbara Rollins. She loved me when I wasn’t able to love myself. She reminded me that love is a virtue and joy is our ultimate purpose.