The one thing I’ve always noticed about Ryan, is how much he cares. This was the longest interview I’ve done so far. Not only that, he voice recorded some additional thoughts and things he wanted to mention when he got home after the interview. All that effort just to make the interview the best we could. I genuinely believe this is the reason he’s got to where he is and why he will have a long career.
Ryan and I met about a year ago at ‘VIP’ event at the Ivy in Manchester. I use the term VIP in inverted commas, as I know what you’re all thinking, how the hell did I get an invite. As wave after wave of middle-aged women were coming over to talk to Ryan and get a picture with him, I was thinking the same thing. I mean there was a queue just to talk to the chef Simon Rimmer!
Each time I kept joking that they were probably big fans of my Instagram and kept trying to tell people that I put my trousers on one leg at a time like everyone else.
I’d only met Ryan that night and we were mainly just chatting about Man City and having a laugh. After a while I had to say, ok enough is enough, where do people know you from? I then realised that he was Josh Tucker on Coronation Street in one of ITV’s most controversial story lines.
Now admittedly I’ve never watched an episode of Coronation Street, but it goes without saying, that around here, the Cobbles are a big deal.
For those that aren’t familiar with the series, I’ve decided to do a take on ‘Humans of New York’ but for people who call Manchester home.
People of MCR will try and tell the story of this incredible city and all the people who contribute to it being the fastest growing city in Europe.
So how does this work? I will get each person to tell me their story in their own words of how they got to where they are today. I will share that story along with some photos for context.
Each person featured will then be asked the same question – Why Manchester?
Ryan didn’t really get into drama until he went to college. Always messing around with friends doing impressions and acting up to the crowd as a class clown, something I can relate to myself, it’s not something people can easily admit to in a male dominated friendship group that they want to be an actor.
Ryan didn’t even study drama at school. Instead, he and his friends had a mutual agreement that they would clean the teachers office so they didn’t have to participate in the class, as long as they weren’t in the room to disturb the others by messing around. Although Ryan does admit, that even when he was cleaning the teachers room, there was still a part of him that wanted to give acting a go.
So after choosing Drama, PE, Media and ICT at college, Ryan was either going to be a PE teacher or he would give drama a chance. If it wasn’t for the fact that he surprisingly failed PE, after getting an A on his coursework, he may never have given acting a proper go.
During his second year at college, Ryan ended up catching the eye of the acting coach David Johnson, who is described as the Alex Ferguson of the acting world. Half of the Manchester based Coronation Street cast have come through David as well as the actress Anna Friel and many other big household names.
During his time at college and while working with David, Ryan then picked up a number of extra roles, including a stint on Waterloo Road.
After college, Ryan then decided to try and get a place in a drama school, which proved more difficult than he expected. Applying to all of the major drama schools in the UK, Ryan admits that he ballsed up the auditions and wasn’t awarded a place for that year.
Working in a normal job for 12 months, Ryan then re-applied a year later. After nearly missing the call back with an email going into his junk box, Ryan was successful in gaining a place to ALRA.
It’s hard to believe, but after 3 years of hard work, studying and amateur productions, the final year comes down to 3 plays and a showcase. The school in its experience, knew that for the students to have a chance of being spotted and signed by an agency, they would have to put a showcase on in the North and in London.
Ryan admits that it’s one of the only times in his life, where he's looked back at his performance and thought he nailed it. But unfortunately, he didn’t get the agent he really wanted at the time and so left drama school without an agent.
Luckily he picked up a role off the back of his third showcase in the touring play The Box of Tricks. After working on this play for 12 months, trying to build his network and inviting as many agents and industry experts to see him, it hadn’t gone as well as he’d hoped. Especially as the agent he really wanted to work with, still hadn’t been able to make it to a show.
A writer and actor who knew Ryan from the industry, after Ryan beat him to a previous role, asked if Ryan would be a part of a play he was writing about two gay boxers. Ryan had just missed out on a role on Hollyoaks when this knackering tour was coming to an end. But, his co-star who had written and produced the play, was actually on the books with the agent that Ryan really wanted to work with.
After this tour finished, Ryan signed with the agent he wanted to work with, working as a teaching assistant at the same time as applying for other auditions and roles. Just two weeks later, his agent called him to say there is a role on Cornonation Street that has come up about a young male, gay boxer, who will go on to play a major role in one of the biggest storylines the show has seen.
This just seemed like the perfect role for Ryan.
What Ryan enjoyed most about the role, was the impact it had on people, with a 1,700% increase of young males who had been in an abusive situation coming forward to get the help they needed.
Ryan was only supposed to be on the show for 4 months but ended up playing the role for a lot longer, leaving in a cliff-hanging scene of him confessing to what had happened, outside a police station in the middle of the street.
After leaving the show, he had the opportunity to again take on the role of the gay boxer in the original play, which had carried on touring during his time away. Not long after he’d taken on this role, ITV had been back in touch to ask if he would re-join the cast.
Given he knew filming would re-start in August of this year, it would have been difficult for him to take on any other roles.
At the time when we sit down for the interview, Ryan has been back on Coronation Street for a couple of weeks having signed with the agency Simon & How.
Ryan admits that the move to Netflix and Amazon has been a game changer for the industry and really feels like the number of roles and exiting opportunities available in the future will only increase.
His dream role would be on something like Peaky Blinders and hopes that more great dramas will keep coming in the future. I genuinely believe that his career will only go from strength to strength as he builds his name and reputation by taking on roles that make a difference or excite him.
There’s been two really poignant moments that Ryan looks back on during his acting career, one in a musical while at college, when a teacher said a role could be the making of him, which really built his confidence.
The second moment was just a few weeks ago, where Ryan was stood on set, next to his co-star Jack Sheppard who plays David Platt. Just before they were about to film a scene, Ryan had a moment of calm where all the hardship of the industry left him and he just thought, “this feels right”. This is where he wants to be.
When asked why Manchester? Ryan admits that given the industry he's in, there may be pressure for him to move to London or even the US, but he admits “To be honest, I’d struggle to leave, I really would. Don’t get me wrong London is impressive with all its landmarks, but I think Manchester’s just got something that’s unattainable in an atmosphere and it’s the people. Our landmarks aren’t Trafalgar Square, it’s bands like Oasis, football clubs like City and political ideas like those seen before the Peterloo massacre.”
I can’t thank Ryan enough for taking the time out to sit down and do this interview. Make sure you follow him on social media @rclayton_92