Ryan is a Christian; she performed in churches, theatre performance groups and talent competitions. Ryan's father was in the military, so she often moved to different places in Europe. Ryan started performing in professional theatres at the age of seven on an American base in Germany. She found she loved acting.
At the time, Ryan was fluent in German. She returned to the United States at the age of 10 in 2003 and was raised in Texas. She dreamed of acting full-time. In a 2009 People Magazine interview, she described herself as a "nerd" in school. Ryan was bullied in middle school for being a mascot and in the school's chess club. Ryan has an older brother, Chris (who is older than her by approximately two years), who is a guitarist and vocalist.
In a March 2009 interview, Ryan said her older brother is one of her rolemodels. Ryan debuted in 2007 as a guest character in Barney: Let's Go to the Firehouse, she played the role of a teenager. She was in the Ice Cube feature film, The Longshots, alongside teen actress Keke Palmer. Ryan played Edith in the film. Ryan plays one of the main characters, Bailey Pickett in Disney Channel Original Series The Suite Life on Deck. The series is a sequel/spin-off to the hit Disney Channel series, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
The series' pilot aired on September 26, 2008 in the US. The series premiere on the Disney Channel in the US drew 5.7 million viewers, and it became the most-watched series premiere in Canada on the Family channel. The series was 2008's #1 top scripted television series for children between the ages 6 to 11 and pre-teenagers between the ages 9 to 14, beating the veteran series Hannah Montana and Wizards of Waverly Place in the ratings. Following the success of the series, she appeared on the first show of Studio DC: Almost Live, a special half-hour variety show that features The Muppets as well as Disney Channel stars. She also made a small appearance on Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream.
Ryan is working on an animated series for Disney Channel UK called My Mate Flynn, in which she plays Tina. Besides acting, Ryan is also a writer and is writing a screenplay. In 2009, it was announced that Ryan landed a starring role in the independent feature film, What If alongside Kevin Sorbo and Kristy Swanson. The film is a straight to DVD film which is set to be released on Valentine's Day in 2010, the film was shot in Manistee, Michigan in July 2009. The film is produced by Pure Flix Entertainment and centers a Christian family. Ryan plays several instruments including the acoustic guitar, piano and keyboard.
. She is also a songwriter and is currently working on music alongside her older brother. Ryan has showed many interest in several types of music and her music genre will be mainly jazz and country pop with a blend of alternative rock. Ryan was set to headline the "Terrific Teen Tour", a concert series which co-headlined Mitchel Musso, Jasmine Richards and Savannah Outen, that would start on July 9, 2009 and end on July 14 but the tour was canceled due to schedule conflicts.
The tour would have been Ryan's debut as a live musician. Ryan's first single, "Adios" is set to be released in August 2009. In a 2009 People Magazine interview, Ryan stated her Suite Life co-star, Brenda Song is her acting idol. In a March 2009 interview, Ryan revealed she also looks up to Meryl Streep, Ryan claims Streep "is so profoundly thought-provoking and life-changing." Ryan also said her other rolemodels include Anne Hathaway, Rachel McAdams and Tobey Maguire. She also said, "I love jazz! I love singing it.
I also love country! My brother loves rock, he also has this chill Jason Mraz-like style. So basically, my answer is: jazz-country-rock-alternative? I have no idea! But I honestly would love to make country music." Ryan has spent time at the Ronald McDonald House and has help raise money for the kids in need. Ryan is involved in Disney's Friends for Change. She was featured in a commercial on the Disney Channel. The charity helps explain how kids can help preserve the planet and invites them to go to the Friends for Change website to register and pledge, offering them the chance to help choose how Disney will invest $1 million in environmental programs.[ Ryan recorded "Send it On" with several other Disney performers for the charity.
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