Ryan Williams-French

Hometown: Riverside, CA

high school: Riverside Poly High School

college: Dartmouth College

MAJOR: Theater

GRAD. PROGRAM: American Conservatory Theatre (2014, MFA)

As a young child Ryan hated school. His report card grades consisted of C’s D’s and F’s. However, his life changed when he was in middle school. His mother had to undergo heart surgery, and over the course of the next several years she had a total of three such procedures. Ryan quickly found his life turned upside down. While his mother was in and out of the hospital, Ryan and his younger brother found themselves without stability, often not knowing which family member they would spend the next night with. Ryan‘s way of dealing with all of life’s uncertainty was by taking his younger brother under his wing and becoming a good role model. To cope, Ryan would read one book after another. Books were an escape passage; books gave him a better understanding of who he was. Books allowed him to realize that positive options do exist.

Ryan enjoyed challenging himself with AP and Honor Classes. And because of Ryan’s unique passion for both history and performance, he now teaches history through performance at various community centers and youth groups. He believes that if people take an interest in learning about history, we would have a better understanding of one another and a new profound appreciation for our world. Ryan spends a considerable amount of his vacation time volunteering at a local convalescent hospital, where he gets the opportunity to talk to seniors and learn about history first-hand and by helping grade school children with their history projects. He believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute in his or her community. Ryan has performed in many high school productions, with roles such as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Tin Man in The Wiz and Walter in Raisin in the Sun. As a sophomore, Ryan and his Honors History Team exhibit took third place in the California State History Day Finals. And as a junior, in 2007, Ryan was Riverside’s first National History Day Individual Performance Winner; this competition is one of the nation’s largest academic competitions, with over 500,000 students competing nationwide yearly. Ryan was Riverside’s current 2008 History Day Individual Performance Winner, and once more he worked his way back to Washington D.C. to compete in nationals. Among the many positions that Ryan has held: he was the president of the Nonviolent Peace Force, president of the Jesters Club, Black Student Union corresponding secretary, Student Site Council representative, Christian Club member and an active NAACP member. The NAACP, the Mayor of Riverside, the City and County School Superintendents and Senator Barbara Boxer have all recognized Ryan.

Ryan’s college goals were to study pre-law and theater, which is did. He plans to become a lawyer. He feels that his voice can represent underprivileged disadvantaged minorities. He knows first-hand the hurdles one must jump to free oneself from socioeconomic disparities. Ryan writes, “By confronting adversity head-on, I’ve gone from hating school to hating anything but excellence in school. I’ve done my best and God has provided the rest. Now I want to do my part and make a difference in this world.”

Ryan graduated from Dartmouth in 2012 with a BA in Theater and Government. He is currently working on his MFA at the American Conservatory Theater.

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