Hi, I’m Austin. Austin Ryan sometimes. And occasionally just Ryan. 🙂
If you’re reading this page, you may know me as an actor and are probably thinking “wait, I thought this guy was an actor?” And if you have landed here specifically for my writing work, you may be poking around thinking “wait, I thought this guy was a writer?”
Surprise. You’re both right. But also ultimately both wrong.
I made the scary (naive?) decision over a decade ago to pass on the doctor/lawyer route and instead do what I love for a living. At the time, I thought that meant performing. So I got my BFA and immediately jumped into a professional acting career that has been fulfilling in ways I never fully understood or appreciated.
Austin Ryan Hunt: Actor.
I had just come off a bucket-list show, was in the middle of the run of another show, and was gearing up to start rehearsals for my next production when the pandemic hit. That was a year ago. We haven’t had live theatre since.
Suddenly the one thing I had known my entire life was gone. The thing I loved. The thing I was good at. The thing that gave me purpose, made me feel like I belong. Gone. And not just my career, but my entire industry. Just Thanos-snapped out of existence.
So now what? Now I’m…
Austin Ryan Hunt: ???
I knew I missed theatre sorely. But I couldn’t articulate why. I felt it, but I had never considered what actually drove me to theater. What was it? What was that pilot-light of the soul that was cranked up by stepping on stage?
It took a while, but during a session with my therapist I realized theatre was actually never about performing for me. It was never about applause or accolades or recognition. In fact, I actually really hate those three things.
For me, theatre… it’s emotionally connecting with people. It’s helping the audience see the world in a different light. It’s someone feeling seen and understood for the first time. It’s asking my audience to examine their assumptions about the world and inviting them to expand their worldview. More love. More listening. More empathy.
For me, theatre is about making a change in the world. And the one way I knew to do that had been unceremoniously ripped away.
Now, if you were here for the writing content and you’ve hung on this long, you might be thinking this has all been about theatre and where does writing fit into all of this?
Well, I’ve always loved writing. I’ve always felt like it came naturally to me. People told me I was “a good writer” but I never really cared because, well, I thought “I’m an actor.” The work I was doing as an actor kept me busy and fulfilled and I was always able to piece together odd jobs between shows to pay the rent.
Theatre is all I have ever known.
A lot of artists have been forced to “pivot” their career during this time. But that doesn’t feel right for me. Really, the end goal is the same as it’s always been. Change lives. So really, I’m not changing direction here. Maybe I’m just like, hopping in a new car. (Or a motor scooter?… I feel like everyone is supposed to like those, but to be honest, I have zero experience.)
Austin Ryan Hunt: Writer.
I mean, in the sense that I sat down to write this, sure. But it’s bigger than that.
I will always be an actor. I know that theatre is smoldering under the raging house-fire of Covid-19 and it’ll eventually come back as something familiar yet entirely new. A phoenix rising from the ashes (with slightly better stage makeup.)
But I can’t sit and wait anymore.
There is too much of me that HAS to continue the work of making the world a better place. I have to find something to bring more light, more love, more understanding, more empathy. Those things that drive me to perform? There’s other ways of going about the same work.
If I can’t use theatre right now, I’ll use something else. It’s a completely new audience. And I don’t have a decade of professional work to stand on. But I do have plenty of experience in using words to connect. This time, they’re just my own.
So… here I am. Austin Ryan Hunt.
Am I an actor? Or am I a writer?
Maybe that misses the point.
I just see myself as someone who wants to help you understand the world a little better. And maybe help the world understand you in return.