Star, the new series from Empire co-creator Lee Daniels, isn’t a one-woman show. Jude Demorest might play the title character, Star Davis, but Ryan Destiny’s character, Alexandra Crane, is just as important. Along with Star’s sister Simone (Brittany O’Grady), Alexandra and Star are part of a girl group and they all need each other to accomplish the dream of becoming superstars in the Atlanta music scene.
In the pilot episode, we learned that Alexandra and Star met each other over Instagram. The two even recorded songs together, but didn’t meet until Star dropped by her home in New York.
Star and Simone were foster children, but Alexandra grew up in the shadow of her famous father Roland (Lenny Kravitz). While Star and Simone seem a bit more at home with their godmother Carlotta Brown (Queen Latifah), Alexandra doesn’t fit in that world as well as they do.
New episodes of Star air on Fox Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
Here’s a look at Ryan Destiny’s life and career.
1. Destiny Was a Member of a Real-Life Girl Group When She Was in Junior High in Detroit
The 18-year-old Destiny has real-life experience in the music industry. When she was only 12 years old and in junior high in Detroit, she was a member of the group Love Dollhouse. The group was signed by Russell Simmons’ All Def label and had a hit with the song “Can I.” The group broke up just before Destiny tried out for Star.
“It was a nice run we had but we all felt it was just time,” Destiny told the Detroit News.
Love Dollhouse, like the girl group in Star, was also a trio. Jasmine Pore and Chelsea Stone, who joined through an audition, made up the other two members of the group. Stone appeared on America’s Got Talent before joining the group.
“Can I” hit #34 on Billboard’s Rhythmic Songs chart.
2. Destiny’s Audition Process Was Much Shorter Than the Process for the Other 2 Stars
Compared to the audition process for Jude Demorest and Brittany O’Grady, the process was much quicker for Destiny. She told Variety that she was only called back twice and didn’t meet the other stars until the second callback.
As she explained to Variety:
It was at the same time, but I got two callbacks and on my last one is when I met [Demorest and O’Grady.] So it was a much different process than what they went through — much shorter. I was living in Detroit and they would fly me out to L.A. for the callbacks. Once I got the call that I booked it, they flew me back out to L.A. an hour later. So it was weird. I think [my co-stars] were surprised by how long it took and I was surprised by how short it took.
In her Detroit News interview, Destiny said she was nervous about the process. “I had been in an actual girl group before, and I wasn’t sure how that was going to play out on TV,” she told the site. “They want a lot of drama-filled stuff, and I was kind of turned away by that. But I filled them in to my vision, and I kept getting callbacks.”
3. She Previously Starred on AMC’s ‘Low Winter Sun’ & the Movie ‘A Girl Like Grace’
All three members of Star‘s girl group are not experienced Hollywood stars, although they do have a few credits to their name. For Destiny, she made her acting debut in a tiny role in an episode of The Wannabes Starring Savvy. Three years later, she landed the role of April Geddes on AMC’s short-lived drama Low Winter Sun.
After that show ended, she landed the lead in the indie film A Girl Like Grace. The movie was directed by Ty Hodges and also starred Meagan Good and Raven-Symone. The film premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015.
“It was surreal,” Destiny said about working with A Girl Like Grace‘s cast in an interview with Black Film.com. “It was crazy. I have watched these people growing up, pretty much every single person in the cast. It was crazy that I’m the lead and they were helping me carry it. I couldn’t have done any of it without them. I think every single person shines in this film, which is amazing. That was another thing. I learned so much coming in. This is my very first film. There were so challenges for me, I definitely learned a lot as an actor, and what to do and what not to do. Just being comfortable. It was crazy. I’m so thankful.”
4. Destiny’s Real Last Name is ‘Iron,’ but She Dropped it for her Professional Career
Destiny’s father is Deron Irons, who was one-half of the ’90s group Guesss. So, her real last name is “Irons” and her middle name is “Destiny.”
“I just felt like Ryan Destiny sounded better,” Destiny, who also works as a model, told Glamour.
She lived in Detroit for her entire life until she moved to Atlanta to film Star. Her mother is originally from Detroit, while her father hails from St. Louis.
5. Destiny & Demorest Clashed During Their First Meeting & Lee Daniels ‘Loved It’
In her interview with Glamour, Destiny said the first time she auditioned with Demorest, there was real-life tension, just like what we see in Star. She said Lee Daniels “loved it.”
“It’s funny because me and Jude clashed in the audition—us in real life—because it was a lot of tension since I think we were both nervous,” she explained to Glamour. “Things happen, but the funny thing is, Lee [Daniels] loved it. I feel like it was a way of us even getting our parts because we’re supposed to be like that in the show, too. Luckily, things definitely smoothed over since then, thank God. It just was tension.”
She said that the two butted heads over a song they had to sing. Destiny didn’t like Demorest’s first suggestion. Since then though, there’s only tension between the actresses in front of the camera.
“They got it all on camera, so it was like, ‘Oh great!’” Destiny recalled to Glamour. “[But] it’s been over a year now and everything has completely changed, but our characters still have that tension.”