Student aspires to entertainment

Phillip Ndowu | Banner | Ryan Lee, junior communication studies major, performs his self-written comedic song during CBU’s 2019 ‘Woofest.’

Ryan Lee, a junior communication studies major at California Baptist University, is well known on campus for his acting and comedy career.

Lee began his career as an actor at the age of five by complete accident. Lee’s family went to Los Angeles to sign on their older sibling and Lee was signed on as well.

He began doing short commercials like Clorox, Progressive, and Cold Stone Creamery,Disney Channel sitcom “I Didn’t Do It”, the Nickelodeon sitcom “Wendell and Vinnie”, and the TNT Drama “Hawthorne” with Jada Pinkett Smith.

While Lee’s parents expected him to play sports growing up, he preferred acting, dancing and singing. His parents enrolled him in community theater to help him gain experience .

After discovering his love for comedy, Lee started doing stand-up at Second City, which is a well-known theater in Los Angeles that focuses on comedy entertainment.

“I discovered my love for musical comedy. I felt like that was the place I thrived the most, which was through music,” Lee said.

Lee began his journey at CBU in 2017. He had plans to go to a school for comedy but it was too far from his home. To his surprise, CBU was the only school on the West Coast to be offering a comedy major the same year he was applying for colleges.

“That was a huge nod from God-—the one school I first went to and remember is the only school that offers what I want. God was telling me to come to CBU,” Lee said.

Koli Marks, senior theater performance major, said he met Lee in the theater department when he was a freshman and the two had a close bond.

“Ryan has many talents but my personal favorite is his dancing skills. We once learned an entire dance to ‘Thank U, Next’ by Ariana Grande that we never actually performed for anyone,” Marks said. “He also knows all of the choreography for Zac Efron’s ‘Bet On It’ number in ‘High School Musical 2’,” Marks said.

Marks said he knows Lee will succeed in acting and comedy because of his investment, hard work and dedication.

Mark Hopper, sophomore vocal performance major, knows Lee from various theatrical productions they have been in together at CBU.

“I first met Ryan during ‘Barnum’ and we built a close friendship throughout the show. Ryan inspires me all the time with his incredible work ethic and talent. Ryan is always working on a new project and it’s extremely impressive,” Hopper said.

Hopper agrees that Lee is a talented actor and comedian but he also said Lee has a passion for screenwriting. 

“Ryan is one of the best screenwriters I know, and even created and starred in his own web-series called ‘Pal Point,’” Hopper said.

John Pate, assistant professor of communications studies and department chair of communication arts, said Lee was one of the first declared comedic arts majors and that he has known Lee for more than three years.

Pate said he admires his passion for theatrical and comedic arts.

“Ryan knows the direction that he wants to go and he does what he knows will get him there,” Pate said.

Pate also said that Lee’s drive to succeed will help him with  his ambitious goals.

“Ryan inspires me as a student because he takes the initiative to find things on his own and be a self starter. Students usually find themselves and take advice from other students while in school to look for professional jobs later in life, but Ryan is doing that now while he is still in school,” Pate said.

Lee performs on a regular basis weekly doing comedy, stand-up, plays, musicals and other performances. Lee is currently rehearsing for both of the upcoming productions at CBU, “Babette’s Feast,” which will open Feb. 14, and “Beauty and the Beast,” which will open in late March.

Lee said he hopes to inspire other students to chase their dreams and always be themselves.

“Be unapologetically yourself through all of it. The industry can be very daunting, walk into any audition or comedy club and rather than saying ‘what do I need to do for you to choose me?’ say ‘this is me, take it or leave it,’” Lee said.

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