It’s been nine years since Washington D.C. native Ryan Sands moved to Los Angeles but he is still just getting acclimated. Specifically to the weather at Christmas time. “I’m still trying to get used to this warm Christmas. It’s still hard to adjust,” he tells the AFRO.
Sands stars in Hulu’s series “Runaways” based on the Marvel comic book series of the same name. Unlike the adults in the comic book series, the adults in Hulu’s version play a critical role in driving the plot. “That aspect,” Sands says, “was one of the bigger surprises. Having read the comics, the adult characters aren’t focused on that much so going in I was just looking forward to playing this villain that pops up now and then but seeing how well the adults were fleshed out and how their story is a focus of the show, I have to admit I consider myself incredibly blessed. It’s been a really fun experience.”
Created by Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (“Gossip Girl,” “The OC”), who are expert at weaving twisty, juicy stories about the rich, “Runaways” bears their unique stamp. The series features four different families who live in an upscale California suburb. In a Southern California home straight out of Architectural Digest, Sands and Angel Parker (“American Crime Story”), play the parents of the character Alex, (Rhenzy Feliz) a charismatic blerd who rallies his friends to find the courage to go up against their parents’ treachery. The parents in “Runaways” are the enemies of their teenage children. The teens, mysteriously imbued with superpowers they are only now discovering, are the unlikely heroes.
Twelve hour shooting days and filming from every angle possible puts the abundant special effects and talents of the large cast on full display. The payoff is a small screen show with a largely cinematic feel. “It takes a long time to shoot those scenes with all of us together. It can take a long time to get everybody’s dialogue and everybody’s reaction. Then when you incorporate special effects like we do, you’re gonna be there for a while,” Sands says.
A self-described comic book fan since he was a kid, Sands says he was thrilled when he heard about the role. “I’m just a huge comic book fan and have been since I can remember so anything with that Marvel name attached to it I’m there. That was the initial excitement was just being involved with a Marvel project.”
In fact, Sands is an accomplished artist himself and was always the creative one in his family. “I was a little nerdy kid who wanted to draw all day long and watch my cartoons and read my comic books. My childhood was filled with a lot of time to explore my imagination and I get to play in that world now as an adult.”
Although he lost his father, who was in the military, at the age of twelve, he describes his childhood as a happy one. ”There was always a whole lotta love, a lotta laughter, and a whole lotta support. My older brothers and sisters looked out for me. My artistic talent was recognized early on. I was a creative kid and I always got a lot of support from everybody in the family.”
The acting bug hit Sands as a young boy after watching “Star Wars.” He desperately wanted to be “The Last Jedi.” It wasn’t until he was in college and watched romantic classic “Love Jones” that his passion for acting was reignited. “That was the catalyst. ‘Love Jones’ smacked me in the face. It was just the world that ‘Love Jones’ presented reminded me of my life in D.C. It was exciting to see characters who looked like me and talked like me and who were into the same stuff I was into. I just wanted the opportunity to one day play a character like that.”
Now, when not working or kicking back with his wife to catch up on “Luke Cage,” “This is Us,” or “Queen Sugar,” Sands works on his own film. “Most of my free time goes toward a film project I’ve been working on for years.” His film, “When Autumn Leaves,” is a romantic drama based in his hometown of Washington D.C. Production is scheduled for the Fall of 2018. “I want to show the world this side of D.C. that hasn’t been shown before. I really want to expose people to what the UC corridor is all about and show that D.C. is not just about politics. I’ve been working on that as much as possible.”