As a child, Ryan McCartan had a dream to be an actor. Now, just a few short years after graduation, he has multiple television and movie credits to his name–and it's just the beginning.
Ryan attributes much of his success to his parents and his education in Minnetonka.
"My parents are extraordinary," says Ryan. "They made so many sacrifices so my sister and I could do whatever we wanted (professionally)—they didn't even hesitate. I'm very blessed to have been born into such a great family." To nurture Ryan's dreams of becoming an actor, his parents sold their house and moved, temporarily, to Los Angeles, Calif. when he was 9-years-old. After returning to Minnetonka and graduating from high school, Ryan moved back to Los Angeles. "My family keeps me going. I didn't get where I got alone—no one ever does," adds Ryan.
As for his time in Minnetonka Public Schools, Ryan described his education as extraordinary. "My teachers were absolutely amazing and very hands-on," notes Ryan. He adds that learning life management skills such as preparedness and motivation helped to set him up for success in college and in life.
"The environment at MHS is one that builds success. The faculty are so engaging and caring. I think about my experiences there almost every day. The theatre and choir departments developed me as a singer and actor in ways I do not think a normal high school could do. Minnetonka is very special."
After moving to Los Angeles, Ryan soon landed a recurring role on The Disney Channel's Liv and Maddie. That part led to a theatre part in Heathers the Musical, that played in Los Angeles and off-Broadway in 2014. Ryan's connections grew along with his resume, and the role in Heathers the Musical led to playing Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again, which aired on FOX in 2016.
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show was one of the most incredible musical experiences I have had so far," explains Ryan. "I was a huge fan of the movie from an embarrassingly young age. Don't tell my parents, but I probably saw it when I was 11 or 12-years-old. I always wanted to play Brad in a theatre production someday. When I saw they were remaking the movie, I knew I had to audition. It was a year ago and I still can't believe it happened. I'm so proud of the cast, crew and producers. Many of my young fans had no idea what The Rocky Horror Picture Show was. I think it's important to bring things up again for generations to experience. The film is zany and weird, but it talks about acceptance and a community that needs a voice."
Ryan just wrapped up a Hulu show and is currently looking for his next job. In the meantime, he is writing screenplays, producing music and working on side projects. "I have learned how to be an artistic entrepreneur," jokes Ryan. "It was a cool side effect that I wasn't expecting, but it ties back to MHS, where they always encouraged us to do more and to think outside the box. It's why so many Minnetonka graduates are doing such amazing things."
Looking ahead, Ryan hopes to be doing the same thing he's doing now—but more of it. "My goal is to be able to pay my bills with my art. I'll be as happy as a clam if that's the case," laughs Ryan.
His advice to current Minnetonka student and recent graduates is to listen to your heart. "Talk to people you trust and make the decision that is right for you. There are so many paths up the mountain of your life, and you have a lot of time. So many people have this sense of immediacy after graduation. You can take a breath and figure things out and dive into life in the way you want to. Every transition period in your life will be terrifying and wonderful. Embrace it. Make the most of it."
When notified about the Young Alumni Achievement Award, Ryan said "It's absolutely incredible. It's so generous and completely unexpected. I hope to provide some sort of example and do the award justice. It means so much. No one gets anywhere alone. The amazing things that have happened are because of the support from family and MHS staff, faculty, and people in my life during those formative years. Anything is possible, but if you work hard you can make anything happen. Not every student is told that by their teachers or schools. This award is an example not of me but of how well the school and community did in nurturing and fostering a kid who had a dream."