A lot of talented people upload videos of themselves performing to websites like YouTube on a daily basis. While a lot of these folks are skilled in what they do, most of them don’t make it past the Internet. One gifted lady who is getting the chance at the big time—with her own television show—is Stevie Ryan.
Stevie was a struggling actress in Los Angeles, working at a Levi’s store, when she decided to start creating mini films for herself with just a handheld camera. “I thought, ‘My God, what have I been waiting for? I can act in my own little movies,’” the 26-year-old Victorville, California-native recently told Aspire. “I started uploading my stupid little videos and became obsessed with it. I became, literally, addicted to it and started uploading stuff like crazy.”
Clips featuring original characters (like Latina homegirl Little Loca and the badly behaved 15-year-old Katrina) and her numerous celebrity parodies (like Amy Winehouse, Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber) were getting lots of hits on the web and Stevie knew she was on to something. “Once I realized I was really entertaining people and I had a small audience, I thought, I’m never going to be able to stop because, if I’m getting one laugh, it’s addicting for me—laughter is my drug and I need more and more and more of it,” explained Stevie. “I just can’t stop—and I haven’t been able to stop since then.”
Now Stevie is bringing the funny to TV as the star of her own VH1 sketch comedy series, Stevie TV. The half hour show, which premiered March 4, will contain six-eight sketches, with introductions from Ms. Ryan, and other little bits. Viewers can expect the sketches to be along the same lines as her hilarious Internet videos, and this season will include parodies of 2012 pop culture darlings like the Mob Wives, The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kim Zolciak and Mackenzie from Toddlers & Tiaras. “We really have a variety of things,” said Stevie. “You should watch my show because it blows minds!”
Get to know the pretty and witty, chatty and batty Stevie right now…
How do you come up with some of your original characters?
Stevie Ryan: I’m inspired by other people. Katrina is inspired by the entitlement that the younger generation is growing up with. Sceney Sceneable is inspired by pop culture and what kids are into. Any original character that I do on the show is done in a pop culture setting that people are going to find familiar and relatable. I have one new character that’s this cat lady that I’m really excited about—I just hope everybody likes her and her cats as much as I do.
In some of your sketches, you play more than one character. How hard is that to film?
SR: It’s all about your imagination. The hardest part about acting when there is nobody there is finding your focus. You can’t focus on the corner of the wall and make it look like you are talking to someone right next to you. You have to focus actually in front of your face where that person will be with your eyes. It’s hard to explain unless you are doing it. But it is hard and, at the same time, it’s fun because, how often do you get to do something as weird as that?
Have you ever heard from any of the celebrities you have parodied?
SR: I did a parody of the reality show Pretty Wild and the show’s producers contacted me saying that the girls loved it. Tracy DiMarco from Jerseylicious contacted me and asked me to make a parody. She was like, “Hey! I love your videos and people tell me that we look alike all the time. Will you please make a video of Jerseylicious?” We actually have one in the TV show so Tracy will be happy about that. I had Marilyn Manson ask me to make a video to him from Katrina because he loves that character. I’ve never been confronted by anybody or anything bad. I’m sure after the series, I’m going to get beat up and have my lunch money stolen. [Laughs]
How long does it take for you to learn a celebrity’s mannerisms and voice in order to spoof them?
SR: It just depends on how obvious their mannerisms, facial expressions and voice are. There’s certain times when I can watch a two-minute YouTube video and I can get that person down. Someone I had a really hard time with was Jennifer Lopez. I watched J.Lo [clips] for hours and hours and it’s almost like she doesn’t do anything that really makes her her, if that makes any sense. That one took a while whereas someone like Justin Bieber…there are more obvious things that he does so it’s easier for me to pick those up.
Who do you want to parody next?
SR: I really want to do a parody—and this is ridiculous—of the T-Mobile girl. No one will let me do it though because they don’t think it’s strong enough.
In some of the Little Loca clips, you are reminiscent of Lucille Ball. Is she one of your influences?
SR: That’s such a cool compliment, thank you! Obviously, I grew up watching I Love Lucy. To this day, I still think it’s one of the best shows of all time. I do find Lucille Ball an inspiration with her not ever caring to be ugly. She was so goofy and so weird and I think that women just aren’t like that nowadays—we don’t ever want to be ugly not even for the sake of a laugh. I think Lucy was so anti that. She would black out her teeth and look as ugly as possible just to get a laugh. Some of our [current] female comedians are funny, but they would never ugly themselves up. I think Lucy was amazing for that. She was a true comedian.
Do you have any guest stars appearing on Stevie TV?
SR: We have some awesome people on our show. We have Christine Lakin—Al from Step By Step—who’s actually a really awesome comedy actress and has a few reoccurring roles. We got Uncle Joey [Dave Coulier] from Full House to do something for us. Allison Dunbar, who is a really funny comedian/actress. Rosa Salazar from American Horror Story is in a few episodes. Everyone is just really amazing!
Did you approach VH1 about the show?
SR: We actually weren’t going to pitch the show to VH1. We ran into one of their executives in the hallway when we were pitching to MTV and he knew my manager and said, “Why don’t you come in and pitch to our network?” So we did and had a great meeting with them. Then there was a nice bidding war for the show between VH1 and a few other networks. I love people fighting over me! VH1 made me feel like I’d have the most creative freedom and they were very supportive of me being as creative as possible. We actually pitched to VH1 last February  so, in a year’s time, all of this has happened. It really doesn’t even feel like a year. It happens so quickly and you don’t even have time to think. Having all of this happen has been so cool!
Was comedy what you always set out to do professionally?
SR: I had been booking commercials and low budget, independent films. At that time, I was thinking of myself as a serious actress. My goal was never to be famous—my goal was to be an actress and be creative.
Now that you are known as a comedienne, have you thought about doing a stand-up act?
SR: I’m actually terrified of being myself in front of people. I have a whole respect for stand-up comedians because I could never stand on a stage and just talk as me and entertain people. That’s why I do characters—it’s much easier for me to play somebody else and put that out there than it is for me to be myself and put myself out there. Honestly, I think stand-up comedy is so hard and such an art and it takes so long to master. I don’t know how they do it.
For more information, check out: StevieRyan.info.