Actress and singer Ryan Destiny is a star (no pun intended). Destiny is one of the leading ladies of the hit Fox series “Star,” the Lee Daniels drama about three talented singers coming together as the group Take 3 and trying to navigate through the Atlanta music scene.
Her character Alexandra “Alex” Crane, is a 19-year-old New York native looking to step out the shadow of her famous father, singer Roland Crane (played by Lenny Kravitz). In the last year, Alex Crane has experienced career and family highs and lows, and she fell in love with her boyfriend Derek (played by Quincy).
Now weeks into season two, Crane finds herself professionally and personally drowning. From theft to secrets and a career hanging in the air, it’s not a matter of if Crane will crack, but when.
Personally, Destiny is rising to the top showing no signs of stopping. Last year the Detroit native signed a deal with Universal Republic and has plans to drop her debut EP On One’s Own soon. Destiny took a break from filming season two of “Star” to talk how she landed the roll on “Star,” working with legends like Benjamin Bratt and Queen Latifah, and the makings of her new EP.
Read our exclusive below, and make sure you watch “Star” on Fox every Wednesday at 9 pm ET.
BLAME EBRO: Right now, we’re in the middle of season two of “Star,” and we Alex dealing with several different layers of drama between her relationship with Derek, to her relationship with the label Midtown and trying to get them to notice Take 3. Between Star, Simone, and Alex, Alex is known to be the most level-headed. What’s keeping her from completely cracking right now?
Ryan Destiny: That’s interesting because I kind of feel like she’s been crashing this season. I think she is just that person, she keeps it together, which is why I feel like it’s all just exploding now because she bottles up things, acting like she can brush them off. I think all the girls do that in a way, so it’s interesting how each of them deals with it and cope with their problems.
But, she definitely, I think, has been just a problem fixer, even within her relationships with her parents. Her mom, she always had to take care of her, and her dad never really supported her, so she’s always had to be independent in a way where she just has to figure things out for herself and believe in herself. Within everything that’s going on in her life now, I think it’s that same thing. All in all, no matter how crazy things get, she just knows she has to figure it out and just push through it and be the problem fixer, even if it’s within her own life.
Blame Ebro: Do you think Alex will eventually have a public break down that may potentially ruin it all for her?
Ryan Destiny: It’s funny because we’re still filming now, so it’s so many different possibilities. Things are always changing storyline wise, so I feel like the way things are heading now; she’s finally getting to a point where she knows what she has to do, she just doesn’t know how to do it. She knows she has to tell the truth with some things, but she doesn’t know how to say it.
I feel like now she’s at a point where she’s like just kind of coming back down to earth with things. I don’t know if she’ll have an explosion, but I can definitely say things are going to get out there. I can’t say too much.
Blame Ebro: When I was doing my research, I read that initially you auditioned for Empire and landed the role as Tiana, but because of your deal with the Love Dollhouse Group that you guys had with All Def Music, you couldn’t take the part.
Ryan Destiny: Yes.
Blame Ebro: How did auditioning for Alex come along?
Ryan Destiny: Well, Leah Daniels, who is the casting director for so many things like “Empire,” she’s the casting director for “Star.” Thankfully, She has been rooting for me since she saw me, and after everything happened with “Empire,” she knew [about the role] obviously because her brother, Lee Daniels, had been in the works with “Star,” and she was about to cast for it.
We went out to eat because we’re just friends now. Me, her and my mom went to dinner, and she told us about “Star.” She told us the premise and all of the things that were happening. When she told us, we thought she was telling the whole season, but really she as just telling us the pilot, which was hilarious.
She said that she really wanted me to audition for this Alexandra role. Obviously, the roles were very specific. Star was set out to be a white girl. Simone was set out to be mixed, and Alexandra was set out to be black, so I had actually auditioned for Simone and Alex because she was like “just do it.” At first, I actually didn’t want to do it, because it was a girl group, and I had just gotten out of a girl group. I was like ‘I do not want to be put back into this, even if it is fake.’ I did not! I was so against it, which is crazy. Then being how great she is, I was like I’m just going to do it for her. I auditioned for it; then I ended up getting it. Two callbacks later, and now I’m here.
Blame Ebro: How do you, as Ryan, connect to Alex, and what was that thing about Alex that made you say “Yes, I’m taking it” when it’s offered, or when you got offered, you were like “yes, that’s exactly the role for me.”
Ryan Destiny: I think it was a build up. I think it was initially just a thing where … even when you audition for these characters, they’re not really … their entire story isn’t really on paper yet, you know? You have to kinda like make the character yourself in a way at a certain point. I definitely wanted to make sure with Alex I was being put in a position where she wasn’t being seen as weak or like the weak link in any way. She wasn’t that. The way that they described her was like she was a leader. She was the intelligent one and the one that had experience within the industry.
That felt like that was a lot of who I am, just going through different things within the industry and then being in a group. I know how it is with the dynamic and how things go and kind of what you have to do mentally to play a particular role within the group and what your position is and how you should handle certain things and how you should handle certain personalities. Her … of those things the big fashion girl, I love that part of her. I connected to that a lot. That was the fun part of it.
Then the more serious things, just her being a dark-skinned girl, and different things that had to be told in the story that really represented how much that affects things. That was very important for me. It was important for Lee, too, but it was important for us also not to make her a victim of it.
It was a lot of different things that became very complex. The way we had to touch it was very specific. It was tricky, but she definitely was somebody that I was thankful to be introduced to a lot of people that didn’t know me. I think she’s a very strong character, so, for this to be the role that I play in a television series is really cool.
Blame Ebro: Yeah, the cast is a good blend of acting veterans, legends, and legends in the making. How does that dynamic on set for you?
Ryan Destiny: It definitely, at first, was nerve-wracking. Literally every scene it was somebody else, and you’re just like “I don’t know if I’m doing great. I don’t know if they think I suck,” but it was a whole bunch of different emotions all at once. You’re like excited, but you’re simply nervous because you just don’t know what they think. You’re just going through your mind like ‘I literally watched this person growing up.’
Blame Ebro: I couldn’t imagine being in front of Queen Latifah. I would be like “oh my God, Khadijah James!”
Ryan Destiny: It’s insane. It’s just crazy! ‘Cause you never think these things. You never know who’s gonna come in your journey and in your path. Queen Latifah was not ever in my head. It was just a thing where I didn’t think we would ever cross paths. So, it’s just insane doing things with her now, being friends and … it’s crazy, but you learn from them! It’s definitely an environment where you feel comfortable enough now where you can be there. They’re mentors. And Benjamin Bratt, too! It’s just so many different people I was just like overwhelmed. It’s insane! It was a lot at first, but it’s cool.
Blame Ebro: A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Patti LaBelle and Brandy will be joining the cast as Carlotta’s mom and sister.
Ryan Destiny: Yes!
Blame Ebro: I saw a pic of you and Brandy on Instagram. How has it been working with those two living legends?
Ryan Destiny: It’s insane. There are another two people I didn’t think that this would ever happen. Patti came up to me when I met her, and she just complimented my voice to the highest power, and I was just … what? It’s crazy to me! Then, Brandy got really emotional with me, because she had finally sat down and watched the first season, and now she’s caught up to all of it. And she’s such a fan, and it’s just insane, because Brandy literally, she has influenced me so much throughout my entire life. It’s very, very weird how things have been happening and how people that you are such a big fan of are now fans of you. It’s just the weirdest thing ever! They’re very, very cool. Brandy said she adopted me as her little sister, so I’m great. I don’t need anything else.
Blame Ebro: It’s official. You blessed. If Patti LaBelle compliments your voice, and Brandy calls you her little sister … that’s it. You’re blessed! You’re going to be successful for the rest of your life.
Ryan Destiny: For sure.
Blame Ebro: And speaking of your voice, I know you had the group thing, and that didn’t work out, but last year, you signed a record deal with Universal Records. What kind of music can we expect from you?
Ryan Destiny: I’m really excited about everything in the future that’s happening. Things are getting a little trickier now because I am in a show that’s about music, so it’s definitely a battle. There are certain things … which is why my EP has kind of been pushed and pushed and pushed. I’ve been recording for the past two years now on my own stuff, and so my EP is titled On One’s Own, and we’re just finalizing things. It’ll be out soon, so I’m really very excited about it.
Blame Ebro: Because you’re on the show that is surrounded by music and the music industry, how important is it for your voice and your work to be heard through your music instead of making something that sounds like the music that’s on the show or something like that?
Ryan Destiny: It’s very different for me and different emotionally, too. I’m emotionally attached to my music, you know, ’cause I’m going to connect to it differently. The way that we have to sing songs on the show, they’re storyline based, so a lot of things are happening within that episode. With my music, it’s very important for me to express myself and what I’m going through right now in the time like the age of my life. There’s a lot of feelings that I have and a lot of things that I feel like other young women will also relate to. A lot of it is independence-based. I’m in a space right now where I feel like I’m literally living for myself, learning myself, loving myself, so a lot of it is a lot of, that.
Obviously every girl goes through love and heartbreak, and a lot of crazy things that involve relationships, so it’ll be a lot of that, too. It’s very important to have that connection with all the same energy that I have.
Blame Ebro: What is your five-year plan or your five-year goal?
Ryan Destiny: Five-year plan … that question is always tricky, ’cause the way things are going in my life, everything that I’ve planned hasn’t necessarily happened the way it’s in my head, you know? Things never really go how you think that they will, but they always go for the better. I just want to be happy being in a place where I feel at peace. In five years, I definitely want to be very busy, and that’s a lot. I hope for is just being busy and whatever that may be.
Blame Ebro: Finally, any advice for young girls who are watching you every Wednesday, and they want to get into music, whether it’s solo or group? From what you’ve learned on the show and what you’ve learned in your experience in the music industry as an artist, what advice would you give those girls?
Ryan Destiny: I would give them the advice I always say patience is number one. You definitely need to have that, because things are always like I said just now, they don’t go how you think they’re gonna go. That’s definitely discouraging a lot of times. You’ve just got to push through it, and you’ve gotta just say to yourself that your time is your time, and nobody can take that always from you. God’s timing is very, very specific and specific to you.
So, don’t get discouraged within this industry and don’t compare yourself. I think that’s a huge thing that girls, especially, always do because we compare ourselves to the next person and the next girl, and we compare ourselves to who we see all the time on our television screens or on Instagram or just within the industry period. You think that there’s a formula to how this is supposed to work and how you should look and how you should sound and what you should say and how you should act, and none of it is true.
There is no formula for it. As long as you’re yourself, people are going to be attracted to that, and they’re going to want you to, they’re going be captivated by that alone. That’s what people are, that’s what people really want nowadays. Forever. It’s never going out of style. People want realness and rawness, so just be you. That’s what I would say.