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'Jessie' star the latest in a long line of Disney princesses

Thursday, October 04, 2012 - Updated: 7:51 PM


The Fresno Bee

LOS ANGELES -- Debby Ryan's life is not necessarily an open book, but it is fodder for episodes of her Disney Channel series "Jessie."

"The writers will ask me, 'Has this ever happened to you in real life?' and I'm like, 'This, this and this and let me know if you need names and numbers.' They are mostly interested in my misadventures and boy trouble," Ryan says during a break from filming the TV show.

After spending three seasons as a supporting cast member on "The Suite Life on Deck," Ryan is starring in her own series. First season episodes drew an average of 3.5 million viewers, making it one of the top-rated shows with young viewers. The second season starts at 8:30 p.m. EDT Friday on the Disney Channel.

One of the episodes in the new season is based on what happened when Ryan went on her very first date a few months ago and her young suitor ended up in the emergency room - twice.

"You would think that would be the worst date ever but my life is like a sitcom. If you say, 'What else could go wrong?' it's only a challenge," Ryan says. "The writers have known me since I was 14, so they know nothing is off limits. They take it and run with it. So a lot of things you see on 'Jessie' are just me."

Ryan, 19 and an Alabama native, follows in the footsteps of other young actresses who have starred in Disney projects: Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. It might seem like Ryan's the next overnight success, but she's been acting since she was 7. She has appeared in projects from the direct-to-DVD "Barney: Let's Go to the Firehouse" to the feature film "The Longshots."

Ryan says being at the center of her own series has been a huge learning experience.

"To be the star of a show is a huge thing and if you think about it, it will freak you out. So I try not to think about it and keep all my plates spinning," Ryan says. "But I'm the kind of person that if I look away from the plates, I'll find five more to start spinning."

Along with the series, those plates include writing music with her older brother, participating in charitable events such as Disney's Friends for Change, writing a fashion blog and creating her own clothing line. Ryan also found time to play two very different roles in guest spots on "Private Practice" and "The Glades."

Despite the success - and her million-and-a-half Twitter followers can attest to this - Ryan has remained very humble. Her biggest joy is making her family proud. She wants to be the kind of person her parents raised her to be while finding her own way..


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