In 2010, she starred in the film, 16 Wishes, which was the most watched cable program on the day of its premiere on the Disney Channel.16 Wishes introduced Ryan to new audiences; the movie received high viewership in the adults demographic (18-34). Ryan starred in the independent theatrical film, What If..., which premiered on August 20, 2010.
Ryan was born in Huntsville, Alabama. She is a Christian and has performed in churches, theater performance groups and talent competitions. Her father was in the military, so she often moved to different places in Europe. She lived in Germany until she was 10 and can speak German and English. She started performing in professional theaters at the age of seven on an American base in Germany. She found she loved acting.
She returned to the United States at the age of 10 in 2003 and was raised in Texas. She dreamed of acting full-time. In a 2009 People Magazine interview, she described herself as a "nerd" in school. Ryan was bullied in middle school for being a mascot and a member of the school's chess club.
2006–07: Early work and The LongshotsEdit
Ryan began appearing in various television commercials in her early teenage years. She appeared in several commercials for iDog and various board games; she was in an iDog Dance commercial in 2008. Ryan's first film role was in 2007 as a guest character in Barney: Let's Go to the Firehouse, she played the role of a teenager. Ryan also had a supporting role in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer feature film, The Longshots, alongside teen actress Keke Palmer and Ice Cube. Ryan played Edith, a teenage mean girl, in the feature film.
2008–10: The Suite Life on Deck and rise to fameEdit
Ryan plays one of the main characters, Bailey Pickett in the Disney Channel Original Series The Suite Life on Deck. The series is a sequel/spin-off to the hit Disney Channel series, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. The series' pilot aired on September 26, 2008 in the US. The series premiere on the Disney Channel in the US drew 5.7 million viewers, and it became the most watched series premiere in Canada on the Family channel. The series was 2008's #1 top scripted television series for children between the ages of 6 to 11 and pre-teens between the ages of 9 to 14, beating the veteran series Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place in the ratings. The series is also 2009's top rated scripted series in the children and tween demographic (6-14), outpacing Hannah Montana and several other teenage shows.
Ryan at the premiere for Up in May 2009
In 2009, it was announced that Ryan landed a starring role in the independent feature film, What If... alongside Kevin Sorbo and Kristy Swanson. The film was shot in Grand Rapids and Manistee, Michigan in July 2009 and was released to theaters on August 20, 2010. The film is produced by Pure Flix Entertainment and centers on a Christian family. In October 2009, Ryan hosted the first Tween Girl Summit in which she hosted the event and its concerts. "Tween girls are drawn to talented performers who emanate the joy of life, and we are so happy to have teen favorite Debby Ryan as the first host of The Tween Summit Music Festival," said Denise Restauri, founder of The Tween Summit, AllyKatzz.com and AK Tweens. "The Tween Summit is a day of celebrating the excitement of youth and hope for the future. As my tween friends say,'This concert is going to Rock!'"
In 2010, she starred in the young adult film 16 Wishes, about a teenager named Abigail "Abby" Louise Jensen (Ryan) who has been planning for her sixteenth birthday party ever since she was a little girl with a list of secret wishes she wants to come true, and on the day of her 16th birthday all of her wishes came true. 16 Wishes went on to become the most watched cable program on the day of its premiere on the Disney Channel and one of the most watched movies on television. In addition, the movie introduced Ryan to new audiences, such as the contemporary adult audience since the movie received high viewership in the adults demographic (18-34).
Ryan noted that to prepare for her role in 16 Wishes, she watched numerous Brat Pack movies, most occasionally Sixteen Candles which she stated is very similar to 16 Wishes. When asked how she prepared for the role, she said "It's, at the end of the day it depends on the script. You can do a comedy and it's completely different than a different comedy. I watch a lot of movies. 16 Wishes, when I went up to do that I watched Sixteen Candles(rated PG) and a couple of coming-of-age films. I love Molly Ringwald. So getting into the feel of that. . .".
Ryan starred in The Suite Life Movie, based on the show she had starred in. The show finished its run on May 6, 2011. In March 2011, it was announced that Ryan landed her own Disney Channel series called Jessie, which debuted in September 2011. The show follows a girl who moves from Texas to New York to become a nanny for a family with four children.
Ryan plays several instruments including the guitar, piano and keyboard. She is also a songwriter and is currently writing music alongside her older brother. Ryan has showed interest in several types of music and her music genres are mainly jazz and country pop with a blend of alternative rock. Ryan was set to headline the "Terrific Teen Tour", a concert series which co-headlined Mitchel Musso, Jasmine Richards and Savannah Outen, that would start on July 9, 2009 and end on July 14 but the tour was canceled due to schedule conflicts. The tour would have been Ryan's debut as a live musician.
In a 2009 People Magazine interview, Ryan stated that her Suite Life co-star, Brenda Song, is her acting idol. In a March 2009 interview, Ryan revealed she also looks up to Meryl Streep; Ryan claims Streep "is so profoundly thought-provoking and life-changing." Ryan has said that her other role models include Anne Hathaway, Rachel McAdams and Tobey Maguire. When asked about musical tastes, she has said, "I love jazz! I love singing it. I also love country! My brother loves rock; he also has this chill Jason Mraz-like style. So basically, my answer is: jazz-country-rock-alternative? I have no idea! But I honestly would love to make country music."
Ryan is involved in Disney's Friends for Change. She was featured in a commercial on Disney Channel. The charity helps explain how kids can help preserve the planet and invites them to go to the Friends for Change website to register and pledge, offering them the chance to help choose how Disney will invest $1 million in environmental programs. Ryan will be taking part in Disney's Friends for Change Games, which will feature over 30 Disney Channel and Disney XD stars competing in fun and physical challenges inspired by good actions for the environment. The stars will be broken up into teams and each team will play on behalf of an environmental charity. Ryan will be taking part as Captain of the Blue Team playing to benefit Ocean Conservancy.
Awards and nominationsEdit