Wonderland.

RYAN DESTINY

Speaking to icon and one of her biggest influences, Brandy, the artist ruminates on her journey so far and what she wants to stand for as an artist.

Ryan Destiny wearing brown three pice for Wonderland's Autumn 2020 issue

All clothing by BUSTED BRAND

Ryan Destiny wearing brown three pice for Wonderland's Autumn 2020 issue
All clothing by BUSTED BRAND

Taken from the Autumn 2020 issue. Order your copy now.

Ryan Destiny has always known her purpose. Growing up going to studio sessions with her father, who was part of 90s R&B group Guesss, and surrounded by the legacy of Motown in Detroit, music and performing have been her world for as long as she can remember. Whether her path was predetermined by fate, or paved by her willpower, hard work and undeniable talent, there was never going to be a plan B.

The 25-year-old started outperforming in girl groups throughout her teens, and after breaking away from her band Love Dollhouse in 2015, she auditioned for STAR — a musical drama that followed a trio of artists navigating their rise in the music industry. In many ways her character’s storyline mirrored her own experience, which at first put her off accepting the role at a time when she was looking to lean into her newfound independence. But rather than keeping her in patterns of the past, STAR propelled Destiny into a new spotlight where she could act, sing and dance on the same job every day, surrounded by co-stars and mentors including Naomi Campbell and Queen Latifah.

Since then she’s appeared in Freeform’s Grown-ish alongside Yara Shahidi, Luka Sabbat and Chloe x Halle, released her first singles as a solo artist and landed her first starring film role in Flint Strong, a Barry Jenkins-written biopic about boxing champion Claressa Shields. While filming has been postponed, Destiny has focused on finishing her upcoming EP “On One’s Own” — a fitting debut for an artist who’s carving out a multi-faceted career entirely on her own terms.

With clear 90s and early 00s influences, Destiny cites Brandy, who she got to know on the set of STAR, amongst her long-time inspirations — not just for her iconic music and films, but because she has created her own inimitable legacy in both worlds. Here, from their homes in the last heatwave of the summer in LA, they catch up over the phone to reflect on their experiences balancing acting and singing, refusing to compromise artistically and empowering their fans to do the same.

Ryan Destiny in white cardigan and fur

All clothing by MIU MIU and shoes by HAIKI SHOES BSPR

Ryan Destiny in white cardigan and fur
All clothing by MIU MIU and shoes by HAIKI SHOES BSPR

BN: I’m so happy to talk to you, and just first tell you how beautiful I think you are and how amazing I think you’re doing in your work, with your craft. I’ve always remembered being around you and you just being such a focus. Your work ethic is amazing, so I just wanted to acknowledge that.
RD: Thank you so much.

BN: I’m happy for everything that’s happening for you. Like, you’re doing it all!
RD: I’m trying!

BN: How do you feel?
RD: I feel cool. I mean, obviously this year is weird. But I’m just happy I’m here and still get to do the little things I can do. So I feel good.

BN: You should. I mean, I think that people [that] can see what you’re doing get inspired. It’s just like the people that you watched when you were coming up. Who were some of the artists and actors that inspired you?
RD: I was super intrigued by the artists that obviously combine the two. It wasn’t even on purpose, that’s just what happened, I just gravitated towards those people. And literally every single time someone asks me this question, I truthfully say your name every single time…

BN: Awww!
RD: Because it’s true! Aaliyah, Diana Ross. You guys all lived careers that have allowed you to blossom in different ways and not just one. Of course there’s a lot of other people I’ve looked up to in both fields, but your names pop up immediately and I just think that’s inspired me to want to pursue the things I do now. It’s just really, really real.

Ryan Destiny wearing white fur Cong tri for our Autumn 2020 issue
Ryan Destiny wearing Cong Tri for Wonderland's Autumn 2020 issue

All clothing by CONGTRI

Ryan Destiny wearing white fur Cong tri for our Autumn 2020 issue
All clothing by CONGTRI
Ryan Destiny wearing Cong Tri for Wonderland's Autumn 2020 issue

BN: I love that. Thank you for telling me that, that feels amazing. It makes me want to keep going, so I appreciate that. And that’s why you do what you do, right? To help somebody else realise that they can do it too?
RD: Exactly

BN: That’s why we’re here. I know it takes balance to be able to do both, and to do both very well and sometimes simultaneously. So how do you balance acting and singing?
RD: I think by just letting both flow the way they do naturally. Sometimes when I’m working on a project for acting it can get super time-consuming, so it gets a little tough trying to record and plan stuff out […] I try to plan out as far as possible when I know something’s about to come up and it’s gonna take months out of my year. So it’s a challenge! I mean, you know.

BN: It is!
RD: It’s different every time, too. Each project is a different type of challenge, it’s interesting.

BN: It’s almost like a part of your journey, and probably being the work of your life because you can do both. You can act, sing and dance all at the same time, so you might have to just juggle it all because you’re that talented, you’re that gifted. You know, it comes with great responsibility! Did you ever feel like people wanted to put you in a box or make you just choose?
RD: For sure, and I think people still try to do it now. But it was a blessing doing STAR because I think the way it introduced me was in a multi-type of way, where I was singing and dancing and acting. So it was easier for people to see that and not just see one thing. But I think people are always trying to box you in and make you pick something, whether it be somebody from your team or somebody from the outside. It’s hard for some people to see somebody do more than one thing. I just think as humans we have so much to give, so it’s just weird to me to just do one thing. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Ryan Destiny wearing black halter neck for Wonderland Autumn 2020 issue

Ryan’s own top and trousers by LIONNE

Ryan Destiny wearing black halter neck for Wonderland Autumn 2020 issue
Ryan’s own top and trousers by LIONNE

BN: No, and you should always do everything you can do. Give it everything you have. I feel like no one should put you in a box at all, because you don’t deserve to be in a box.
RD: Definitely

BN: So music, do you think it’s your first love?
RD: Well it started because my dad was a singer, is a singer. He was signed when he was younger and when he had me, so it was just naturally a part of me. I think looking up to him and seeing his journey with it… You know he didn’t, unfortunately, make it-make it how he wanted to, so a lot of it feels like I need to like finish it out for him. I feel like I’m inspired by him to continue to push and do what I do and just make sure I almost finish the dream off for him, in a way. It just was like a bug that bit me, and since I was super, super young it’s all I remember […] And being from Detroit, I think Motown was a huge part of me too, and just feeling inspired by the city itself.

BN: When did you know, like hear in your own ears, with your own feeling, ‘Oh my god, I can sing! I can do things that everybody can’t do?’
RD: Probably like around 15 years old when I was just entering high school. I think it was honestly because my parents started taking me serious.

BN: Because they’re your first audience, they’re your first believers. I get that. That’s amazing to have the support of your family, because it’s almost like if you can do everything upon your family, or tell your family an idea and they get it, you feel like you can go forward.
RD: Yeah, it’s so important. I’ve seen other people not have that support system, and how sort of rare it is, which is so crazy to me. I’m super thankful for it because I see now how much of a blessing it is.

BN: That’s awesome. Do you see what your future and your career and your life path is? Do you have this vision forward? Or do you trust that there’s a purpose that’s already happening, without you having to know exactly what you’re going to do next?
RD: Because of how the last 10 years of my life has panned out, I now definitely see that God has a divine plan for me. Things that I thought I was gonna do didn’t happen and it turned to a whole different route, which I’m super thankful for now, looking back. So I definitely think that there’s a higher purpose for me and it’s kind of already in the cards.

BN: Absolutely
RD: I don’t want to deny it and I don’t ever want to question it. I’m just trying to live and do what I can on my end [to] be the best version of myself.

BN: Yes, be the best version of yourself. Wow. That’s great. That’s so good. I mean, you wanting to be the greatest version of yourself, that means that you’re an artist that stands for something. Is that what you say you would stand for, being the greatest version of yourself?
RD: Yeah, I would. And also just being a person that stands for love and being human, a kind human. Because we’re bound to make mistakes and struggle, and you know, you can try to do right sometimes, but sometimes you fall short of that. I just want to be a reflection of that and always remind people that it’s OK to fail. It’s inevitable, but not to beat yourself up about it, love yourself through it. As artists, we’re blessed to be in our position because we can just give out a message that’s bigger than what we’re doing. I just want to give out that, so hopefully I can pass love and happiness and strength along the way in a lot of different forms.

BN: Yes. Wow. I love your name, Ryan Destiny. That’s just like… I just love the way it sounds, it has a ring to it. It fits you, you know? Like you have this light on you and it’s beautiful to see.
RD: Thank you so much, I so appreciate that.

BN: You’re welcome! How do you approach social media? Because I know social media is a huge part of how you engage with fans and how you get whatever you’re doing work-wise out there.
RD: It’s tough, ‘cause like you said, it’s a great way to be out there and be in control of how people see you. So it’s definitely cool and has its perks, but we’ve all seen how it can not be so great. I think social media can be a drug sometimes, I think it’s about balance more than anything. I try to give myself a break a lot of times and just step away from it.

BN: And stay out the comments…
RD: Yeah, stay out of the comments!

Ryan Destiny wearing oversized jacket for Wonderland Autumn 2020 issue

(LEFT) Jumper by KARL KANI, corset by JOHN ALLEN, watch by OMEGA and shoes by FEMME (RIGHT) Jacket by DIOR and shorts by MISSGUIDED

Jumper by KARL KANI, corset by JOHN ALLEN, watch by OMEGA and shoes by FEMME Jacket by DIOR and shorts by MISSGUIDED
Ryan Destiny wearing oversized jacket for Wonderland Autumn 2020 issue

BN: If you find yourself scrolling, stop! It’ll be like 15,000 great ones, and then that one, it’ll just get you down for the rest of the day.
RD: That one!

BN: […] So you worked with Queen Latifah and Naomi Campbell, (on STAR), sometimes on the same day…
RD: And you!

BN: Yeah, but I mean these are two women that are basically your mother in a way on television. These were long hours working with these legendary vessels and you’re holding your own. How does that feel?
RD: During those moments, it’s definitely a learning experience. I try to take in just as much as I can from them, because somebody like Queen Latifah has obviously been doing this for such a long time. I think the way she carries herself on set and the way she leads the set is admirable, and since day one I’ve always seen that from her. I just wanted to take some of it and use that when I get to a point where I can just put that mood on a set. I think it’s super important how somebody [can] set the tone on certain sets. She does that beautifully.

BN: Absolutely.
RD: And then Naomi is just so ‘her’ and doesn’t ever back down from showing ‘her’. It’s really cool to see and be around this people that I’ve looked up to all my life. I think it was surreal and I don’t think it ever really sunk in when I was on set, it was just really crazy to me. I’m like, ‘This is insane!’ I would have never, ever thought that that would happen. And it all would happen [in] a rush of time. It was amazing and I think I just learned a lot.

BN: You were so explosive on STAR. I mean, you are just fearless. And fabulous. You were everything. I really believe in you and I think that you’re gonna do everything that you are meant to do and everything that you want to do and more. I think you have what it takes and you will always have my support.
RD: Thank you so much, B […] Since I was young I was always watching movies that were very musical-based or music-based. The Wiz and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Sister Act 2, those movies I was rewatching constantly in my house. So I think those moments, like just seeing you and watching Moesha, listening to your music, getting a Barbie and it being you… It was so many different things you would be inspired by, because you see yourself in those moments and I think that that’s really important. And like you said earlier, that is why we do what we do, so it can inspire the next person. And that’s definitely what [you have] done for me in so many different ways. And for years! To have a career as long as you’ve had is a goal for everybody. Having that longevity and it continuing, inspiring generations after generations after generations, is the goal. And I think you’ve done that and will continue to forever ‘cause you are a legend.

Ryan Destiny in purple jumpsuit for our Autumn 2020 issue

All clothing by DAILY PAPER, stylist’s own jewellery and shoes by MISSGUIDED

Ryan Destiny in purple jumpsuit for our Autumn 2020 issue
All clothing by DAILY PAPER, stylist’s own jewellery and shoes by MISSGUIDED

BN: Thank you.
RD: I’m just super honoured that you have embraced me the way that you have because, like I said, it’s very surreal. And I just appreciate it so much. It’s insane.
BN: You are so welcome. I am so just humbled by everything you just said. I love doing what I do so that can happen, [to] make people feel inspired and that things are possible. So I appreciate that. You’re really just strong and I’m so happy for you and I believe in you. Just know that there’s nobody like you, and that’s your power.

Photography
Charlotte Rutherford
Styled
Toni-Blaze Ibekwe and Scot Louie
Interview
Brandy
Hair
JStayReady
Makeup
Raoul Alejandre at Opus Beauty
Nails
Thuy Nguyen
Fashion Assistant
Nikki Cortez
Special thanks to
MSA Studios DTLA
RYAN DESTINY
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