Chit Chatting with Debby Ryan
Written by: Jill Sheets
Picture credit: Everette Perry
When I get to interview someone it is always an honor, and this time there is no
difference. I was excited to have the chance of interview this exceptional entertainer.
Some of you might remember her from our last published issue-Holiday 2009…a true
role model, Debby Ryan. Many of you know her as Bailey Pickett on The Suite Life on
Deck. Debby has made a name for herself not only on screen, but behinds the scene of
her new show Jessie. Continue to read on and learn more about her new show and the
R: Recently you just turned 18 and you got a really cool gift. Would you mind telling us
about the guitar designed with Skittles?
D: Yeah, that is so funny that you mentioned this because I literally just came in from
outside where I was playing guitar! Skittles decided to give me this beautiful, electric
guitar that they embellished with Skittles all over it. There is a clear coat on top of them,
so they will not fall off. People told me to eat the Skittles – but they are stuck on there!
It is gorgeous and so colorful. I loved Skittles growing up… I actually have a bunch of
essays that I wrote when I was a kid, saying when I am a successful actor I am going to
have tons and tons of Skittles! It was so funny that my dream came true, and I got the
guitar for my 18th birthday – an amazing gift, and it actually plays really well!
R: I love your new hair color. Why did you decide to color it red?
D: Thank you. I loved the boldness of having red hair. The new character I play on TV,
Jessie, needed to have a different hair color than the other characters I have played. I
brought the idea to Disney, and I think they liked it! It was a really exciting thing, and it
is probably my favorite hair color to date.
R: Speaking of your show Jessie. Congratulations. How does it feel to have your own
D: Thank you so much. It feels great. It feels amazing. It is something I have been
developing for the last six months, a lot of soul went into it, and a ton of time and
thought. It is very cool to see if now, all put together, and to have the cast and crew all
Picture credit Everette Perry
R: Tell us about your new show and when is it going to premiere?
D: It is set to premiere in September 2011 – so keep your eyes open for it on Disney!
The show is about a girl named Jessie, who moves to New York City after graduating
from high school, so she can find herself before going to college. She ends up becoming
a nanny, from a few bizarre series of events. Within the first five minutes of the first
episode, she becomes a nanny for the kids of a high-powered couple on the Upper East
Side. The dad is a famous movie director, and the mom is a super model. They are
always jet setting around the world – Jessie comes in and shows them the importance of
family. All the kids are from different backgrounds – three are adopted, so they have
totally different characteristics and different cultures influencing their personalities –
so Jessie is finding the beauty in individuality in every single kid, while showing them
how beautiful family and unity can be. It is a really cool concept – and I think it will
get a bit crazy too! We have a seven-foot lizard on set, we get into some really funny
shenanigans. The family also has a private helicopter, and a gorgeous penthouse.
R: Did I hear correctly that you helped create the show?
D: I did help develop it. I was pitching around ideas with the executive producer and
show runner, Pamela Eells, who worked on the original “Nanny,” but we worked on “The
Suite Life on Deck” together. We started coming up with ideas together – she talked to
me about this nanny idea, and I loved it. We took it to Disney and I helped come up with
the characters and helped with the casting of the kids. I also was able to help with some
of the story lines. For our first season, I am a consultant on the show, next season I will
be a producer and then the season after that I will be an executive producer, assuming all
goes well and people like the show!
R: What are the major differences and similarities between you and Jessie?
D: Jessie and I are actually very similar. My dad worked with the Department of
Defense when I was younger, so I have a bit of a military upbringing, and I have an
appreciation for the military lifestyle. It was fun to be able to incorporate that, along with
her sarcasm and strength – both are qualities we sometimes share! Jessie is an 18-year-
old girl and I am truly playing an 18-year-old girl – which is nice. She can be immature
in some ways, and on the flip side be sophisticated and mature with things too. Jessie
moved out to the city on her own, so there is a certain part of her that can take care of
herself, and take care of the kids of this family. But, she is not above being taken care of.
So, I feel that we both have that balance.
Picture credit Everette Perry
R: Does it bother you working with the 75-pound lizard?
D: No, it doesn’t bother me – it is actually a cool thing! I have worked with snakes, nine
cats, two pigs, a rat, and a tarantula – plenty of animals in my comedy career – so the
lizard is just one more to add to the list!
R: What is it like working with the cast of “Jessie”?
D: It is really fun, they are really good kids. I sat in on the auditions and watched them…
how they treated each other, interacted with each other, treated their parents – how they
treated others around them – I wanted them to genuinely be good kids. The four kids that
were cast are amazing, great people, hard workers, and so talented. They could roll with
the punches. A lot of the roles were changed or customized to fit the actor themselves.
We also have great adults in the cast as well, we have a butler, and a doorman – the
whole cast is incredible. The writers and producers are learning a lot about the characters
as we create them, and it is cool to see how we as actors take direction while also doing
things in our own way and bringing life to things. I also try to spend time with the kids
– I took them to Disneyland a few weeks ago – glow in the dark mini golf – we have a
R: You are a true role model. How do you feel about being a role model? And, what do
you think makes a person a good role model?
D: When I was younger, I would baby-sit and I would always be very aware of the way
I did things. Kids pick up on the things that adults do, so I learned at a young age to be
very aware of how I was in front of kids. Fortunately, being on a Disney show was kind
of preceded by that. My mind is naturally on being a good person, I want to make my
parents proud, and do the best I can at everything I do. There is not an hour that goes by
where I am not thinking about my fans and how something I might be doing will impact
or influence them – however being aware does not hinder me from bring who I want to
be – I think it makes me a better person.
R: Some entertainers feel uncomfortable when fans come up to them asking for their
autograph or talk to them, what advice would you give your fans who would like to come
up and ask for your autograph or just say hello?
D: My fans are some of the coolest people in the world. I love it when people come
up to me and tell me they like the show. Even when I don’t have much time or I’m sick
or tired, I am going to give them a few minutes of my time because they spend time
watching my show and I make it for them. I really work for the viewers and I like to hear
the feedback first hand.
Picture credit Everette Perry
R: You have great fashion sense. How do you come up with your style?
D: I customize everything. I go to vintage stores, souvenir shops or my brother’s closet
– I love to find things I really like in random places. Ultimately, I love to cut and change
things and make them my own. My friend and I went to a surf shop, and I found this
shirt with “Life Guard” on it – I turned it into this really cool tank top. There are also
tons of ways to be modest, while still being and having fun. Right now I like crop tops,
high waist jeans, and shorts. You can still have coverage with proportions. It is all about
being creative, because you never go into a store setting completely what you want to
R: What some of your future goals?
D: I would love to write and produce music for a couple of artists – I want to foster and
inspire a creative spirit in people, either through a clothing line, or customizable things. I
have a few really cool things in development right now…. Over the next few months we
will be releasing new news on all of this. Someday I want to be married, have a family,
and I want to travel. Since I lived in Germany when I was younger, I love to travel and
there are so many places I have yet to see, and want to see.
R: You mentioned you lived in Germany, do you speak German or any other languages?
D: I do speak a little German. I was at the beach the other day with my friend and
couple was speaking in German, and I was able to translate some of it to my friend.
Picture credit Everette Perry
R: Anything else you would like to add?
D: Thank you guys for watching and supporting the show. I have a lot of fun doing
what I do and I wouldn’t be able to do it if it were not for the people who watch. I am
excited for the world to see a new level me, of the heart I put into “Jessie” and the
other things that I have got going on which I will keep everyone updated through my
You can also follow Debby Ryan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thedebbyryan