Ryan Destiny: A ‘Star’ is born
Detroit native’s dreams are coming true on new Fox musical drama
Two days before the Wednesday night she knew would change her life forever, Detroit native Ryan Destiny took to Twitter to express her feelings.
“Nothing makes sense right now,” she wrote simply under her username @RyanDestiny. “But it will.”
Chances are, it hasn’t yet. How could Destiny (her actual middle name), a doe-eyed young singer-songwriter-dancer-actress, understand her meteoric leap from Joy Road to a starring role in the Fox TV musical-melodrama “Star,” which premiered Dec. 14 and returns Wednesday as the network’s highest profile new series?
“I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to audition for it,” recalls Destiny, 18, who plays Alexandra Crane, the wealthy, haughty daughter of a rock star — played by rock star Lenny Kravitz — who consents to join two destitute half-sisters and pursue hip-hop stardom in Atlanta as a girl group.
“I was kind of nervous,” she says. “I had been in an actual girl group before, and I wasn’t sure how that was going to play out on TV. They want a lot of drama-filled stuff, and I was kind of turned away by that. But I filled them in to my vision, and I kept getting callbacks.”
That “actual girl group” was Love Dollhouse, the Detroit-born trio Destiny formed at 12 with junior high friends. They signed with the Russell Simmons-led All Def label and produced the 2014 hit single “Can I” before disbanding prior to her “Star” audition.
“It was a nice run we had,” she says, “but we all felt it was just time.”
The timing was superb. “Star” is executive producer Lee Daniels’ companion piece to “Empire,” the most-buzzworthy, blockbuster success on television last season. Both series are rooted in hip-hop culture: “Empire” focuses on a family at the top of the music world; “Star” depicts what it takes to get there. The pilot episode of “Star” was the top trending internet topic on its opening night Dec. 14.
The network has huge expectations for “Star:” Queen Latifah, Benjamin Bratt and Kravitz provide the star power, but the three relative unknowns who comprise the singing group — Destiny, Jude Demorest of Grand Rapids and Brittany O’Grady — hold the key to the show’s success.
“I auditioned for ‘Empire’ and got a role there, but I was signed to a record label, so I was waiting for things to happen,” she explains. “Meanwhile, the casting director remembered me and really encouraged me to audition for this part.”
Destiny comes by her musical talent genetically: her father is Deron Irons, half of the successful ’90s R&B duo Guesss. Growing up across the street from Rouge Park, she attended junior and senior high school in the West Bloomfield school system.
“That’s my Ryan. She’s mine,” beams Sheryl Hauk, her director of vocal music at West Bloomfield High School. “I’m extremely proud of her work ethic, her grace and her talent. I haven’t seen her sing or dance for a couple of years. Just her growth in itself is wonderful.”
Though she appeared in the made-in-Detroit TV series “Low Winter Sun” and starred in the 2015 independent film “A Girl Like Grace,” “Star” is unquestionably Destiny’s breakthrough, life-changing event.
“It’s hard to think about,” she admits. “I plan to keep my family and friends very close.”
9 p.m. Wednesday
Fox (Channel 2)