Over all three series of Disney’s Penny on M.A.R.S., Ryan Dean has been playing the role of Sacha Lukin, with the latest series being aired in the UK earlier this year, and in 2019, he appeared in feature film The Gentlemen alongside Colin Farrell. Most recently, Ryan has been announced to join the cast of the fourth series of Ackley Bridge, where he will be playing new character Johnny. Ryan began his career on stage, making his professional debut as Billy Elliot in the West End musical of the same name, and as well as acting, he releases his own music, with his debut single released last year. Answering our questions, Ryan speaks about playing Sacha in Penny on M.A.R.S., filming for The Gentlemen and starting his career in Billy Elliot the Musical.
How was it booking your role of Sacha in Disney’s Penny on M.A.R.S.?
Coming out of college and being able to go straight into a Disney Channel series was amazing, to say the least. Not only did it give me some great memories, but it gave me the opportunity to learn more about the industry and get a real insight into how things work on a TV set.
Can you tell us about Sacha and what is he like to play?
Sacha was a great part to play, he is young, vibrant and full of energy. I think his eagerness to please the people he loves can get him into some sticky situations (no spoilers!) but I think the goodness of his heart always helps him stay on the right path.
How was it returning to set to film each series?
Every time I went back it was always lovely to see some familiar faces and of course meet new ones, but I feel like the main thing was the growth in everyone in the team and the growth of my knowledge for this side of the industry. Everyone always came back stronger and more eager to do great work.
What is it like to be part of the cast and do you have any favourite memories from your time filming?
I think being part of anything you enjoy doing is always going to be great and bring you a lot of memories, but I will have to say my favourite memories are working on set with the Director (Claudio Norzar), the Choreographer and the whole team!
How is it learning the music and choreography, and what’s a typical day on set?
I was quite lucky as I’ve had a lot of dance training in my past so I generally was okay, at the same time the days were long and hot and even though we were in great studios, sometimes the Milan heat got the better of us!
Do you have a favourite aspect of being part of the show?
I have a few nieces and nephews that I don’t get to see very often as we live quite far away, so I would honestly say my favourite aspect about being part of the show is knowing they will be able to see their uncle doing what he loves on screen!
You filmed for 2019 feature film The Gentlemen, how did you find the experience?
It was an incredible experience! Being able to learn so much from the amazing team and the incredible actors we worked with. Getting the opportunity to work very closely with Colin Farrell was inspiring, seeing the quality and professionalism in the way he worked will be something I take with me throughout the rest of my career.
Can you say about playing Billy Elliot in Billy Elliot the Musical in the West End?
Well, it started everything off for me! Gave me the life I have today and I would not be here without the show and without the people who supported and believed in me enough to give me extra lessons and really spend their own time that they really didn’t need to do, just to help me get an opportunity and change my life.
What was it like performing at West End Live and the Olivier Awards?
It was an incredible feeling, one very different from performing in the theatre. It is funny looking back at my time in Billy Elliot, I was young and I guess I didn’t realise how insane it was for a boy from Southport who didn’t dance to be a lead in the West End and performing in Trafalgar Square and at the Olivier Awards. Looking back, it really did solidify that this was the career path for me and that I, and indeed anyone, can do anything if you really put your mind to it.
How was it returning for the Billy Elliot the Musical Live screened performance?
Such a pleasure seeing all the ex-Billys and getting to spend time with them as everyone is all over the place nowadays. Always great to get to perform at the Victoria Palace again, it brought back some great memories.
Where does your love of acting come from?
I think it came from my first director Nick Evans, it is hard to put into words, but to cut a long story short, Nick changed my perception on life, how to tackle emotions and how we work as humans. He gave me the ability to see so much more of myself and gave me the discipline and tools I needed to navigate and explore new avenues as an actor.
What are some of your favourite TV and theatre shows to watch?
Jersey Boys and Rent! I also like to watch The Big Bang Theory.
We understand you’ve recently released Old Summers (Acoustic Version), can you tell us more about it?
It all started with Jack, my friend and castmate from Penny On M.A.R.S., who said he would love to hear an acoustic version of Old Summers. I said let’s do it! A few days later he had the guitar track sent over and I laid the vocals down, then Mixed and Mastered the track ready for release!
Your debut single was released in December, what was the response like from your listeners?
It was great! To see new people posting and sharing that are now new fans/part of my team was amazing! Having done everything for the song, production etc, it was lovely to hear appreciation for different aspects of the track! It just makes you as an artist want to get back to the lab and keep creating, keep cooking up and releasing them tracks for the world!
Was there anything that encouraged your music career and for those that haven’t heard your music, how would you describe your sound?
I have loved music all my life, having grown up listening to lots of different types of music, I would say I don’t really fall into any specific genre – I’m inspired by such a wide range of artists, genres, bands, styles etc. From that eclectic inspiration I have always strived to have my own sound, a unique sound – that I think I have found. I do think that my sound is always going to change as I grow and develop as a person and experience new things, learn new things. So, for now, I just hope that my music is not defined by any genre but defined purely on how it makes people feel!
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