‘Star’ ac­tress find­ing her voice

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Ger­rick D. Kennedy

Ryan Des­tiny’s break­out role on Fox’s hit mu­si­cal drama “Star” isn’t ex­actly life im­i­tat­ing art.

On the se­ries, she por­trays Alexan­dra Crane, one-third of the fic­tional R&B trio Take 3, a role the singer-song­writer-dancer­ac­tress landed af­ter hav­ing to drop out of “Em­pire” due to con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions with her own group, Love Doll­house.

But where her on-screen per­sona is a sa­vant in the stu­dio, off-screen she’s still find­ing her voice as an artist.

“It’s cool to play (this char­ac­ter) that helps me grow,” Des­tiny said dur­ing a re­cent break from film­ing the show’s third sea­son in At­lanta. “Alex just pops these songs out. For me, it’s not that easy. I’m still get­ting into the groove.”

Af­ter three years of star­ring on a soap about the ups and downs of a group, she’s ready to launch her solo ca­reer with a forth­com­ing de­but, aptly ti­tled “On One’s Own.”

At 23, Des­tiny is al­ready an in­dus­try vet­eran.

When she was in ju­nior high, the Detroit na­tive formed a girl group with her friends and landed on NBC’s “Amer­ica’s Got Tal­ent” in 2011 be­fore the group splin­tered and mor­phed into Love Doll­house. That group, which signed to Rus­sell Sim­mons’ All Def Mu­sic, re­leased an in­fec­tious Mo­town-tinged bop in 2014 that caught some buzz be­fore the girls went their sep­a­rate ways.

Des­tiny went on to star in the 2015 in­die film “A Girl Like Grace” and orig­i­nally scored the role of Tianna on Lee Daniels’ hip-hop drama “Em­pire,” but la­bel com­mit­ments kept her from ac­cept­ing the role.

Land­ing the role of Crane not only of­fered her a sec­ond shot at work­ing with Daniels (co-creator and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of “Star”), it was a chance to por­tray the type of artist she as­pires to be.

“One of my fa­vorite things about Alex is she’s the pro­ducer/song­writer of the group — like the face of it,” Des­tiny said. “I’m fig­ur­ing out who I am as an artist, while Alex is fig­ur­ing her­self out too. It’s in­ter­est­ing to go be­tween those worlds.”

The de­mand­ing sched­ule of “Star” — episodes tape in the same num­ber of days as your typ­i­cal drama, but the stars are also record­ing the mu­sic, learn­ing chore­og­ra­phy and film­ing mu­sic se­quences — has made it chal­leng­ing to record out­side the show.

“On One’s Own” is the re­sult of nearly three years in the stu­dio dur­ing down­time from the show. The EP’s lead sin­gle, “The Same,” is a slice of slinky late-’90s R&B that makes for a po­tent com­ing-out party.

But Des­tiny is in no rush to get the project out. For now, she’s just happy peo­ple get to hear her on her own out­side the fic­tional artist she por­trays.

“I fi­nally get to be my­self, and for peo­ple to see that and ap­pre­ci­ate and rec­og­nize that it is dif­fer­ent from the show and it is just me is re­ally re­fresh­ing,” she says. “It’s been a long time com­ing.”

CHRISTINA HOUSE/LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

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