At only 14-years-old, Ryan Alessi is making quite the name for himself in Hollywood with his starring role in Nickelodeon’s new prime time T.V. show “All That.”
The sketch comedy show, considered the “Saturday Night Live” for tweens, is a reboot of a show of the same name that ran in the 1990s and 2000s and produced stars Kenan Thompson, Amanda Bynes and Nick Cannon.
Alessi, a Chicago native and grandson of Bourbonnais resident Jerry Alessi, took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with The Daily Journal about his new life and how he got here.
You started acting at Second City when you were 8 years old — what drew you to doing improv comedy at such a young age?
I used to always pass the Second City building, and my mom would tell me that was where a bunch of famous comedians used to go. I thought that was super cool, and my mom signed me up for classes there because I thought it was a clubhouse where all the comedians would hangout. But I got in, and I got to do an improv class. At first, I wasn’t that good — probably because I was 8 — but I kept doing improv classes at Second City and eventually improv started to be a thing for me.
Did you have any acting experience before “All That”?
I did do some comedy theater in Chicago. I did some commercials and short films; I did a show called “My Dead Ex” that was on Hulu, where I played a small character. Nothing has been as big as the show I’m on right now, but I still really appreciate the other roles I’ve had and the opportunities.
What did your family say when you wanted to follow your dreams and move to Hollywood a year ago?
Mostly they did think I was a little crazy, and I think they thought this was just a thing that would go away. But I said, ‘No, I’m serious; I’m dead serious,’ and we moved to California, and I’ve been acting ever since.
What do you miss the most about Illinois while you’re out in California?
The pizza — I love Chicago pizza; I love deep dish; it’s just my favorite. I also really love spring and fall, the change of the seasons. I do not miss the really cold winters, though.
“All That” is a huge deal – so many stars were made out of the original. What was the audition process like?
When we auditioned, originally we didn’t know it was for “All That” because on the breakdown, it said “Untitled Sketch Show.” But it did say to watch clips of “All That,” so I kind of thought that’s what it was and watched a bunch of clips, and by the last audition, we found out it was for “All That.” I watched my audition tape back because we had to do it as promo for the show, and I was so nervous I was shaking, and my face was flushed.
The show is already on the air — what has it been like to see yourself on TV?
Really weird. I just watch it and remember the things that were going on when we were filming it — the details about certain things, and I also pick up on things that are different, like, “Oh, they put that line in there,” or “Oh, they put that take in there.”
Have you been on Twitter scrolling to see what people are saying about the show?
People love it — the ratings are really good, and the people at Nickelodeon are really happy about it.
You already have accomplished so much, and you’re only 14 — what are your plans for the future?
I do really want to tackle drama; I feel as though I could show people I have range in both comedy and drama. In addition, I always have loved fashion — I follow a lot of fashion brands on Instagram; I go to a lot of museums about fashion; I watch runway shows — I always have wanted to have my own brand. ... But I’m only on “All That” for now. I haven’t had time to audition because I’ve been really busy with the show and its promotion, but I’m pretty happy with where I am right now.