Interview with Marja Lewis Ryan


AE: Could you tell me a bit about how you got into acting and writing?
MLR: Wow, this is so embarrassing, but I try to humiliate myself three times a day, so here we go. I think I was six or seven, and I was reading Tiger Beat, and I told my mother that the cast of Saved By the Bell had started out as child models, and so, I told my mom that I wanted to be a model! [laughs]

She was like "Why are you saying this?" and I said "I want to be an actor!" She was like "Ok…” no one in my family is an actor, I don’t know why I felt that way, but she escorted me to auditions from the age of nine to the age of 16 — she was incredibly happy when I got my driver’s license. I did a lot of Community Theater growing up, which gave me the chance to do regional theater — I did tours and such before I got to college.

I always kept a journal, but I never, ever thought that I would write anything. It wasn’t a journal in the “dear diary” sense, it was more — people say things that make me laugh, and I’ll always write them down. I never really thought anything would come of that — it wasn’t until college that I started to write, and that was truly out of necessity, it wasn’t that I wanted to, it was because I felt like I had to [laughs].

I still sort of feel that way — I hope I can write for the rest of my life, but it’s definitely not the thing that pumps through my body. I would much rather act.

But, my mother is an artist and author of children’s books, so I think there’s something there. But yes, I just read Tiger Beat, how about that! [laughs]

Ryan on the set of The Four-Faced Liar

AE: Tiger Beat was your inspiration!
MLR: [laughs] Tiger Beat and Zach Morris — that’s all I cared about at that moment in my life!

But I’ll go home and see the places my mom would drive me to — my parents have been incredible foundations for me. They came up to Utah — they were there [for Sundance]. They saw it all happen.

AE: Hey, did they get into the Variety party too?
MLR: [laughs] No, but my mom did get to go to a GLAAD party with me — she thought that was pretty awesome.

AE: So what’s next after The Four-Faced Liar?
MLR: The four of us own our production company, so we have two features, and we’re just trying to figure out which one to do first, one is gay-themed and one isn’t, so we’re trying to figure out where our film ends up being distributed, who our audience is. We’re going to start one of them at the end of summer.

AE: Can you talk about them at all?
MLR: I can talk about them in that, the roots of why I started writing will continue through. Both of them have really strong female leads, and I would like to continue to create positive gay roles, even if it’s not like a gay-themed film. I still think that it’s important to have minorities represented across the board, so we’ll continue to make films that are representative of that goal.

AE: That’s something we can really get behind. Do you have any parting thoughts?
MLR: The only thing I would like to add is that I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of press, and I feel like I’ve been pulled out from my core group of people that made this happen — I can sincerely say that it would not have happened without each and every one of those people. The reason that I was good is that they’re so good! To see your best friends’ names scroll by on the opening of a film has been probably been my greatest accomplishment.

Click here to read our review of The Four-Faced Liar, and for more information on the film, check out the official website.

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