Ryan Destiny talks being a role model for black girls, acting goals, making music, and celebrating black icons
For Black History Month, the star also discussed the viral selfie with Lori Harvey, Normani and Jordyn Woods that showcased black beauty, portraying Olympian boxer Claressa Shields in a new movie, and much more! Read here! #BHMX
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Ryan Destiny is far more than just a pretty face. She’s an incredibly talented singer, actress, and overall breath of fresh air in the entertainment industry. Boasting over 2.2 million followers on Instagram alone, the Detroit, Michigan native is a role model for not only all those with a dream, but particularly strong, beautiful, black women who wish to conquer whatever it is their hearts desire.
While she began discovering her talents at 10 years old, it was at age 16 when she officially began her journey as an entertainer. Fast forward to 2020 and the 25-year-old manages to balance training for a lead role in a big studio film, recording in the studio, filming for her new character in “grown-ish,” slaying fashion inspo on social media, and having a social life (barely). But, Destiny does not hesitate in reminding you of her normalcy, revealing one of her favorite pastimes is staying inside with boyfriend Keith Powers and watching Netflix.
When it comes to balancing all her endeavors, the workload doesn’t even cross her mind — she just does it. Most recently, she unleashed her music video for “The Same” featuring Chicago’s own Tobi Lou, which hit over a million views in less than two months. Her musical roots stem from her dad, who’s also a singer. The acting naturally flew in because she was “super dramatic as a kid,” she adds with a chuckle.
REVOLT caught up with Destiny to speak about her recent viral photo on Instagram, what black beauty means to her, playing Claressa Shields in the new Barry Jenkins movie, being from Detroit, celebrating black icons this Black History Month — and all year long — and more! Read the convo below.
First off, the world has to know the backstory behind the photo of you Normani, Jordyn Woods, and Lori Harvey.
(Laughs) It was just a normal selfie. I took that on my phone, I wasn’t even going to post it. I sent it to Jordyn and then Jordyn ended up posting it. We knew that the picture was bomb. We were feeling ourselves low-key. I see a lot of people asking, ‘How long did it take you guys to get the right one?” We literally took probably 10 selfies, which is good for four women in a photo. We could’ve taken a hundred, but we took it pretty quick. It was a cool moment. We really had fun.
So it was vacation?
Yeah, we were on vacation. It was for Lori’s birthday and I was actually planning on going to Jamaica for my birthday anyway that weekend. She had texted me that she was going, I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m going!’ Jamaica was what my whole plan was for a minute now, so it lined up perfectly. For my actual birthday, I spent it with Keith and my family. So, it was chill for the most part.
How do you know Lori?
We met through mutual friends and of course social media. But, we’ve hung out a lot of times before then. Same with me and Normani. That was actually my first time meeting Jordyn, but we’ve been cool too over social media, as well. We’re just really cool friends. It’s cool to have friends in the industry who understand a lot of the things that you go through, but at the same time supporting each other. That’s really how a lot of our friendships came about: Genuinely supporting one another. Rooting for each other and wanting to see each other win.
What does the beauty of black women mean to you?
It’s so hard, we have so many different types of beauties. Our strength more than anything is what’s beautiful. I think that’s what people will see and what resonates the most. When people meet any type of black woman, it’s that non-fearing type of vibe that comes from us. Our energies can control a room, it can take over a room for sure when we step into it. That’s definitely one of the things that I’ve realized when meeting other black women. I just feel an energy that’s undeniable and rare.
Who are some strong female black women you look up to?
Growing up, I definitely looked up to a lot of the musicians. People like Beyonce, Lauryn Hill, Brandy, and Anita [Baker], those are who I look up to. Not only for them being entertainers, just their presence and their aura. It’s something every captivating about all of them. There’s so many (laughs), but those are some.
Congrats on the new Barry Jenkins movie about Olympian boxer Claressa Shields. How’s that journey been?
It’s been intense. I mean, boxing alone is one of the hardest sports.
How did you land this role?
It was a pretty long process. I had a meeting with one of the producers, almost a year and some change ago. So, it was super premature, just taking general meetings. They met a lot of people, then it came back around to audition for it two months later. I had gone in a few times, and it just happened! It was crazy. I didn’t expect it. I had to actually go into a gym with a trainer that I didn’t really know just to film a video to send to a casting director of me boxing. To look at that video now, it’s crazy. I’ve grown so much.
You’ve been training like crazy. What’s the rigorous diet they have you on?
I have meal prep every week. It’s a chef that makes it for me. She’s been really great with trying making sure that even though the food is very healthy, I still like it. It’s so hard for me to eat healthy. It’s hard for me to eat vegetables. I’m so bad! So now, I’m over here, I feel like a little 5-year-old kid trying to intake all the greens. But, it’s been really cool changing it and I do feel better. I just feel healthier. It’s been really good for me and I knew it would be good for me overall.
This is your first starring role right?
Yes, this is my first official big studio film lead role. It’s surreal. It hasn’t really hit me. I don’t think it will until everything comes out, and we’re there. But, I’m really excited to start filming. That’s obviously the most exciting part is really diving into it. It’ll be a really fun process.
Do you feel super comfortable when you act?
I do, but I’m super nit-picky with myself. A big perfectionist. I’m always trying to get better and knowing that I have so much more to go, so much more to learn, I’m always trying to stay in the moment and love it. But, also just get better. There’s always room for improvement, but I do love it. It’s something I cannot not do, for sure.
What does it mean to have Claressa Shields be from Flint with you being from Detroit?
Claressa is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. She’s so interesting and so tough. She’s so real and confident. Her confidence is probably scarier to obtain and act out than the boxing is. I’m more afraid for making sure I portray that, her level of confidence, than I am the actual boxing. It’s crazy. She’s really cool and we’ve had great conversations so far about everything. She’s excited about it, of course. I’m just really happy and excited that I will hopefully make her proud because it’s her story, and it’s a really important story. Man, the things that she’s gone through is incredible. She’s overcome a lot.
Especially from Flint, that alone is a lot to go through. To grow up in that area is crazy and me being from Detroit, it’s super cool how we have that parallel. It feels like it all aligned perfectly, so it’s cool. Detroit and Flint are two different places, but it’s still coming from nothing almost. It’s that sense of being humble and coming from humble beginnings. Us going through two different journeys obviously, but proving people wrong. Just making it. Trying our hardest to make something of ourselves and what our talents are.
Talk about being a strong black woman out of Detroit and being able to pursue your dreams.
It’s super important to me, and it has been since I was super young. Obviously because we’re put in a position where it’s not the norm for us to overcome stuff, to make it out of something, to be in sort of like this mainstream type of industry. In the industry period, it’s just hard. So, I not only want to be a person that people can look up to, young black girls can look up to and say that they can do that too, but I want it to be me and a million other women. And it has been, it’s becoming that more and more. It’s just super great and an honor to be a part of. One of the women who are making and changing a lot of perspectives.
Your new video featuring Tobi Lou is fire! How’s it feel to hit a million in less than two months?
It feels really good! That’s my first solo video, it was really cool to see how supportive my fans are. It’s really cool especially because I’ve been working on that video for so long, not in a great way. (Chuckles) I basically shot a whole different video before and had to scratch it, then we reshot another one. It’s been a long process, so it felt really good to put it out. I’m glad people received it. No label push, no huge rollout, me just literally putting it out. It’s really cool to see how much support I have from it, I’m excited for people to see what else there is to come.
How did you link up with Tobi?
I was listening to him and loved his music, hit up one of my guys and was like, ‘Yo, do you know Tobi?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah! I can connect you.’ It was that simple. You’d think something like that — that’s sort of an industry way of linking up — would be kind of flat and we wouldn’t really connect. But, we went to the studio soon after that and just clicked. He’s one of the coolest people. He’s sweet, funny, our vibes really clicked. He made me feel really comfortable. I’m a super introvert. I’m super shy, so it’s hard for me to click with lot of people. He’s definitely a person that it just naturally happened. It’s cool, I have a friend in him now.
What can we expect from the forthcoming EP?
You can expect things that you probably wouldn’t expect. I’m definitely going to incorporate the R&B of course because that’s how I want to come out… That’s one of my favorite genres, but I’ve always wanted to incorporate other genres, as well. So, you can expect a little twist on certain things. Probably other genres that you wouldn’t really think I’d do, but it will all blend well together. That and I’m really excited to shoot some more visuals.
You’re staying independent?
That’s pending. We shall see. I’ll let you know next time I see you.
Is there anyone you want to work with that you haven’t yet?
Musically… it’s so hard. I get stuck on these questions. I want to really work with a female singer. There’s nobody in particular, particular right now. But, I feel like there hasn’t been too many female singers collabing with female singers. There’s female singers and rappers coming together, but not singers. I definitely want to, but in a way that’s organic.
How excited are you to be introduced on ‘grown-ish’ this season?
I get introduced the second episode. I can’t really say much, but you’ll see what happens. She definitely has a love interest through the show. You see her transition coming from an HBCU, so her whole time in college is just different. Meeting all these new characters, all these new friends for her. She’s also a filmmaker, so you see how that all ties in and incorporates with what she’s doing in school. It’s definitely a lot of love twists and triangles, and things happening, but it’s definitely genuine. Her and her love interest have a genuine bond, so it’s really cool to see their dynamic between each other.
What’s it like working with Chloe x Halle? They’re so sweet.
Oh I love them. Oh my God, I’ve loved them for years now. That’s another genuine friendship that happened, just being super supportive of them, and then them being super sweet. On top of that, so talented. We also just clicked. It’s been super cool to have people on set that I already knew, so I didn’t feel too intimidated by everybody. It was really cool to work together. We didn’t think that we’d work together in this way. So, the fact that it happened, this was really cool.
What are you and Keith’s ideal day off?
Oh, we’re so boring! We love going to the movies. We’re always trying to catch up on every type of movie. Just literally chilling at home, like we are chillers. Watching Netflix stuff, it’s just all bad. We just chill. One of our newer things we’ve been trying to do is cook more, so that’s been something else. We’re trying because we’re both horrible at it, but we’re both like, ‘Okay, we can learn together.’
What are some goals for yourself at this point in your career?
Right now, one of my biggest goals is to find a place where I’m really not worried [about] the opinions that come along. I’ve been really trying to figure that out, just the, ‘I don’t give a fuck’ type attitude. It’s easier said than done. I’ve been trying to block people out and just listen to my own self. Believe in my own self regardless of these opinions that float around the internet every day.
What black history are you making?
The black history I’m making is not only in the work I’m doing, but also who I am. I’m hoping I make a lot of people proud. When I look at certain people, they make me proud to be black. They make me proud to be a black woman, so I hope I’m doing that for others. Hopefully in my work and in my art, I can open up new doors for whoever’s coming after me or at the same time. However it may unfold, inspiring others and making history with myself is something everyone wants to do. Create a legacy.
Why is it so important to celebrate black icons?
Celebrating black icons is so important because what they’ve done for us is so monumental. It would be a disservice and disrespectful if we didn’t acknowledge that. Not only educate ourselves on what and who have come before us, but educating others on it, as well. Without these icons, we wouldn’t be able to be in half of the rooms we can be in today, be on the platforms we can be on today, and so on. So many things they’ve done and opened up so many doors up for us. Hopefully, we can continue the legacies, and continue breaking barriers and doors like they’ve done for us. Just do them justice.
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