But how did the YouTube star die?
According to the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office, Ryan died from an apparent suicide by hanging at her home. This comes less than a day after she had posted on social media about the death of her grandfather. “The man of my dreams will now only be in my dreams,” she wrote on Twitter, “I love you my pa.”
In a 2012 interview, Ryan told The Hollywood Reporter that she discovered YouTube while modeling and auditioning for parts in Los Angeles. “I had realized that people were putting these videos up themselves and it was so new then that I was like ‘What? This is so weird,” she said, “And then I realized, wait, my boyfriend at the time had a little camera and I realized on my laptop that I had an editing thing and I thought, ‘Oh, I can do a little movie too.’ ”
She then began releasing parody videos on YouTube that became very popular: “I remember waking up and one little loca video had like 900 hits and I was like ‘Oh, my gosh. There’s people watching this?’ And it just kept going and then I did this Paris Hilton thing and then it literally was just growing and growing,” she added, “And I just became so obsessed with all of it.”
Among Ryan’s most famous characters were the aforementioned Little Loca and Sceney Sceneable, as well as impressions of pop artists like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse. Her increasing popularity eventually led to VH1 giving the actress her own comedy sketch show called Stevie TV in 2012. The show ran for two seasons. You can watch a clip from Stevie TV, titled “Twerking Intervention,” above.
In an interview with Culture Brats, Ryan reflected on her comedy career: “I love to create and entertain. I became almost addicted to it. I realized that I liked to write. I realized I liked editing and setting up the camera shots and seeing different angles and the lighting. I figured out I looked better in this type of lighting. It was really just discovering all these things and that’s when I had the realization of “Wow! I don’t just want to be an actor.”
In addition to Stevie TV, Ryan was a co-host of Brody Jenner‘s E! series Sex With Brody (2012-13) and the host of the podcast Mentally Ch(ill), which, according to its iTunes description, is “a podcast about depression.” In the most recent episode “Death, Grieving & Lithium,” released just two days before her death, Ryan discussed the passing of her grandfather. You can listen to the podcast here.
Numerous fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to Ryan, with one user calling her “the funniest lady I ever knew.” Check out some of the most notable tributes below.