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Meet Ryan Hellquist

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan Hellquist.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ryan. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I love life. As I sit poolside on a beautiful sunny day at my humble, yet charming, LA apartment, I am poised and ready for one lucky break to catapult me into my grandest dreams … or I could continue to enjoy the grind and never catch my big break. That’s the reality of this business. So why would I dare choose such an uncertain career of acting in a town already full of talented dreamers? Because I’ve built my entire life towards this dream, I welcome the adventure, and most importantly, I believe this is my purpose. If luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, I’ve spent a lifetime preparing and creating opportunities for myself and now, I’m in the arena.

So how did I get lucky?
I used the tools I was given; the values that have set me on my path, my deep love and appreciation for the natural world and all life on earth, my love for pondering and discussing the big questions, my curiosity to explore the queries of the cosmos, and my endless fascination of the human experience. These tools were forged growing up with a loving family in the San Francisco Bay Area. I grew up with access to such natural beauties as Lake Tahoe, the Pacific Ocean and the Redwood Forests. My closest big city was the diverse, progressive and futuristic San Francisco. I am part of a large, loving family with a variety of personalities and so many valuable qualities impressed upon me. I was given a beautiful foundation for a rich human experience and wanted a way to express that beauty and dive deeper.

At an early age, I found art to be the best way to express my appreciation for this life and to discover more of its mysteries. I fell in love with movies and saw them as the ultimate collaboration of art forms, all working harmoniously to tell a story. Movies can guide us through an experience, educate us, transport us to far off places, help us to gain insight into a culture or moment in history, and show the powerful and intimate moments of the human experience. I knew I wanted to be a part of telling stories through film.

In my earliest memories I had an innate passion for performing and being a person that could entertain the people I loved. Making your loved ones laugh and feel joy is a powerful gift and I wanted to be a master at it! My parents encouraged my desire to act and put me in classes. While having no connection to the industry, they also somehow managed to land me a Los Angeles agent. As a child, my folks would bring me to The City of Angels a few times a year to audition for major film and television productions. I am forever grateful for their support.

Once I had a taste of acting in LA, I was hooked! I took every opportunity I could find to perform and improve, which only made my appreciation for the craft grow. All the reasons I loved movies were amplified with acting. I was able to contribute to an artform I loved, but also experience the world and live another life within that story. I remember wanting to be so many things when I grew up, an astronaut, inventor, explorer, camp counselor… with acting I could be anything. I found joy in living out the lives of different characters and experiencing those unique, intimate moments and perspectives within each new role.

In middle school and high school, I was in every play available. I worked my way up to be the captain of our competitive high school improv team. After graduation I wrote, directed, and starred in a feature film with my friends. In college I continued my training in acting and filmmaking. I then transferred to a two-year acting conservatory; The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts.

As time went on, my passion grew and so did my awareness. I became more conscious of the world outside of my hometown and saw the state of humanity. I felt a strong desire to be a part of the solution to the problems of climate change, social inequality and sustainable living. I wanted to spread education and compassion to the world. My purpose became clear. I would use my skills in acting and filmmaking to create inspiring stories that entertain, educate and radiate compassion, to help solve the important issues of the world.

I moved to Los Angeles to live out my childhood dreams and to fulfill my purpose. Since then I have been working hard to generate relationships, further my craft and build my career. I strive to live a full life with deep, meaningful experiences while making the world a better place.

Has it been a smooth road?
Before moving to LA, it has been a fairly smooth road. However, this is the arena, LA is the Olympics of acting. The years I’ve spent in LA have been the hardest in my life. Every inch forward has been gained with a dogged determination, but these years have also yielded the most growth. There are three big challenges I have been met with in Los Angeles; managing limited resources while remaining active in an ever-evolving industry, finding my creative tribe, and attaining theatrical representation.

The rules of the game are continuously changing. I dreamt of widening and deepening my skills and plugging into a creative team or into mainstream studio level productions as a highly trained actor. That was the model I came in with and yet, with the proliferation of social media, YouTube, 4k cameras in our pockets and the technology to publicly measure your audience base, I find, more and more, actors are expected to be a master of these new elements while still possessing exceptional acting abilities that can stand out in a crowd of millions. We are expected to build a massive following with an established brand just to be considered for an opportunity to work on professional level productions. There are tremendous benefits to these technologies for actors and filmmakers, however it is challenging to be a master of these without diluting the core acting craft. It is also challenging to manage resources and time to devote to learning new aspects of the career while still supporting myself financially and maintaining significant relationships.

Another approach I had to the career was gathering a team of like-minded creatives and collaborating on projects with the goal of rising together and generating our own work to fulfill a common purpose. Finding my tribe has been difficult. Even as I get better doing things myself, I’d much rather work with other people, which I believe is a more efficient model. I am grateful for my experiences acting in projects like L.A. Macabre and Dinner Club. Both projects had incredibly small but mighty creative teams. I am also fortunate to be surrounded by talented people in my peer group, though my experience trying to create a lasting team of consistent collaborators has often been met with initial excitement followed by a lack of commitment or follow through.

Finally, attaining theatrical representation has been tough. It has been a struggle to stand out and put a unique, spin on my “everyman” type. The directors and producers that I have worked for have been happy to hire me again, but proving myself initially to an agent is a difficult prospect in this highly competitive industry. There will always be challenges and hard times which force us to grow. I welcome challenges and look forward to the better man I will become as a result.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am an actor and producer for on screen entertainment. I am also adept at hosting and voice over. As an actor, I am both the product and the salesman of my business. My brand falls into the categories of likeable, charming boyfriend; trustworthy, fun-loving best friend; and the adventurous, traveling dreamer. I enjoy performing in a wide range of genres, from playing a stand-up comic in the highly-acclaimed narrative podcast Rose Drive, created by Raul Vega, to starring in the award-winning suspense drama series L.A. Macabre, created by Dan Ast. This was one of my proudest performances, which garnered me a few awards including Best Male Actor for the International Academy of Web Television. Most recently I played an eccentrically groovy guidance counselor in the heart-warming comedy feature Dinner Club created by Casey Jackson, currently in post-production.

I love acting and have a deep respect for the production process. In my business, my enthusiasm, work ethic and respect show up every time I’m on set. I strive to elevate everyone I work with and always give more than is expected of me.

While the film industry has been on hold, I am exploring two new possible business opportunities that have stemmed from artistic outlets. I have a weekly Instagram post that shows a growing collection of my landscape and model photography, called HyperBeauty. I’m also developing content for my YouTube channel Wild Wanderer, sharing knowledge I find valuable, including active ways to combat climate change and hosting travel tour videos.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I long for lush forests and wish there were more trees and natural beauty in Los Angeles but I love the fact that there is always something exciting happening here. We live in an artistic hub with some of the best to offer in film, music, comedy, art, and space exploration. I love living in a city with a wide range of activities, from touring the stunning Brewery Art Walk to seeing the Space Shuttle Endeavour up close! There’s plenty of adventure in this eclectic city.

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Image Credit:
1. Justin Oliphant 4. Michael Roud 5. Austin Smoak 7. Justin Blodgett 8. Ryan Hellquist

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