Lens Spotlight: Interview with Actor, Ryan Sands
Los Angeles, California
How did you get your start in acting?
Acting was my first love. I saw Star Wars when I was kid and it really captured my imagination. I knew I wanted to be on screen one day. Also, I began drawing at an early age as well. Growing up a creative, imaginative young kid, watching cartoons and reading comic books, so art was a big part of my life. I really began to focus on art because I thought it would be easier to become an artist than to be an actor. It wasn’t until I was in college and knew I didn’t want to have any regrets life that I began to focus on acting. I saw Love Jones and it really woke me up. Seeing characters that I could relate to and were pursuing creative pursuits really inspired me. After taking some initial steps to get back into acting, I still had to the desire to do art. I realized I could do both and enrolled into Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore to study graphic design. As an Artist it has been fun to have the opportunity to experiment and express myself whether it’s through art, graphic design, or in front of the camera.
You just completed your first season with the hit HULU series, Marvel: Runaways, playing villain parent, Geoffery Wilder, can you give us a little insight into the character?
Geoff Wilder is an enjoyable character to play. In the comics, Geoff is probably more evil than in the series and isn’t afraid to kill at a moment's notice. The character I portray is a little different; he is a someone who had a violent past but is trying his best to be a better person. Unfortunately, he made a deal along with the other parents in this organization, and he is in pretty deep. Now there are a lot of consequences that are coming to the surface because of his commitment to this organization.
Honestly, I was excited to portray a bad guy and a nuisance character who is little conflicted about where his place is in the grand scheme of things. He is trying to be a good father, a good husband but has gotten in over his head.
How would you like to see your character develop in Season two?
As the first season progressed, I got more and more comfortable with who Geoff is. In the beginning, the writers and the actors are learning these characters and deciding where they want to take these characters and what challenges they want to present to the characters.
I’m looking forward to the conversations Geoff will have to have with his son, Alex, now that everything is out on the table, Geoff can’t hide behind the secrets and lies. At the heart of it, this is a father who cares about his son and wants to keep him safe. So, I’m excited to see where the writers are going to take them.
What is it like to be apart of the Marvel Universe at this time?
It’s hard to put into words because I’m of a nerd as they come. I've been a huge Marvel fan since I was young. So being a part of the Marvel Universe I feel incredibly blessed, and this whole experience has been a testament to keeping the faith and not giving up on a dream.
As we are talking, I’m looking at a framed comic book that I’ve had since I was a kid where I colored the character Iron Fist brown with markers. I saw these all these amazing characters that I wanted to be but did not look like me. Most of the black characters in the syfy or superhero genres were regulated as sidekicks and were not as cool or charismatic as other characters. An older cousin introduced me to Black Panther, Luke Cage and the like. Now with Luke Cage going into season 2 and the phenomenal success of Black Panther, it feels good to know their little kids today will not have draw on their comics like I did.
You are alum of another popular show, The Wire, where you played Officer Lloyd “Truck” Garrick. What did you learn from that experience?
Being a struggling artist at the time I could not afford HBO, so I had not watched the show before getting the role. It was an incredibly inspiring experience as someone who intends to develop screenplays and create content for television and film. To be able to read those scripts it showed me that I had a long way to go but the authenticity of the show's writers gave me something to shoot for. It was refreshing to be a part of something that was so much fun and had such a significant impact.
How does the current success of black actors in films and television inspires you in regard to your craft?
I’m inspired because it seems that there will be more opportunities for black actors to express the totality of the human experience in a myriad of ways that sound different, that feel different and we aren’t pigeonholed into specific roles or genres. I want to do it all. I love that I get to work on a superhero project that portrays elements of a family drama as well. I want to be in space, I want to do it all. Now more than ever that is becoming more of a reality to see us in that light.
What’s next for Ryan?
I am developing a screenplay that I want to take back to D.C. and film, some doors have opened up with my artwork, so I’ll be excited to reveal those opportunities when the time comes, and of course, Marvel’s The Runaways Season 2 coming soon.
What quote or motto do you live your life by?
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” - Martin Luther King
In the past, I've been guilty of overthinking things regarding my career. There came a time where I had to say, “Forget fear and let faith do the rest of the work.”