We had the good fortune of connecting with Lex Ryan and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lex, let’s start by talking about what inspires you?
I am inspired by honest storytelling in many different forms. As an actor the storytellers that come to mind are: Michaela Coel, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali. They know how to make us feel deeply. They know how to use specificity in order to highlight our universal human experiences. I am inspired by organizers and activists, both those who have left us and those out in the world organizing right now. I read Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler and my consciousness grows. I read and follow the work of Adrienne Maree Brown, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Dean Spade. They stoke my imagination and open me up to new possibilities.

These may seem like disparate sources of inspiration, but what they have in common is that they reveal parts of the human experience honestly and in doing so, help us better understand ourselves.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Though I was obsessed with movies as a child, the idea of being someone who participated in making them was not something that crossed my mind until I was 19 years old and living with an actor in Madrid. Iván, who became a dear friend, showed me a world of film I didn’t know existed. I suddenly realized this was a way to express my fears and longings and joy, and share them in a medium which can totally absorb an audience.

I am proud of myself for moving alone from upstate New York – where I went to college – to Los Angeles, where I got my master’s degree in Film & TV Production at USC. I am grateful that after many years of unknowingly basing my worth on my accomplishments, two things helped save me from my capitalist self (the self that lives inside all of us and tells us we are not enough). One was becoming an organizer and the other was investing in my mental health.

As an organizer in White People 4 Black Lives I learn how much I internalize capitalism, white supremacy, and cisheteropatriarchy; how I unknowingly measured everything in my life based on those frameworks. Through activism and organizing I learn and practice transformative models of living. I am building power in solidarity with other oppressed people.

A few years ago I experienced a mental crisis which forced me to learn to care for myself better. I got a diagnosis, got on medication, worked with my individual therapist, and joined group therapy. It was a harrowing time, but it began this journey that I’m forever on and so grateful for.

I bring all of this up because being an actor and an organizer are essentially one and the same for me. I must feel deeply and communicate honestly in order to be effective as either, and my mental wellness are required for both. Being an organizer serves me as an actor and vice versa.

Being an actor is an unpredictable career path. So much of my success is up to chance, and other people’s choices. Which means a lot of rejection and self doubt. I feel proud to be in a place where I am working hard, but my value does not depend on whether or not I book a role. My life is full, with or without acting.

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.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream is a must-eat in Los Angeles for me. Not a particular location. It’s just the absolute best ice cream I have had in this city. Though I’m also a huge fan of Milk’s macaron ice cream sandwiches and Magpie’s vegan soft serve ice cream pies!

I’d take a friend for an iced vanilla bean latte at Undergrind. We would go downtown to Central Library and Union Station, because they are gorgeous. We’d go to The Last Bookstore and shop around. We would eat a meal (or a few) in Grand Central Market. Then we’d go to a rooftop bar at sunset — maybe Broken Shaker, ’cause it’s cute.

I also love hanging out at Stories Books & Cafe in Echo Park, and at Echo Park Lake. So those are on my list, too.

Image Credit: Kate Tran-Lane
Image Credit: Kate Tran-Lane

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my partner Kate Bustamante. She holds space for every part of me to exist, she wakes up at the crack of dawn to help with self tapes, and she makes me laugh.

Website: www.lexryan.co

Instagram: www.instagram.com/lex.ryan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheLexRyan

Image Credit:
Kate Tran-Lane

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.