I first saw Almost Famous in my Senior English class which was focused around film. I was the only 9th grader among about thirty 12th graders. I was extremely ambitious to graduate early, which I did, and follow my dreams which were to tour as a professional musician, which I also did.
In Almost Famous, William Miller discovers his love for music and gets hired by Rolling Stone Magazine to write about an up-and-coming band called Stillwater. Despite his mom’s disapproval to tour with the band, he convinces her anyway and he then sets off to chase his dreams. He follows the band on the road as they tour from city to city and through all of the experiences that come with it. Watching the movie reminded me of my dreams to get on the road and experience life as a touring musician. Almost Famous drove me to dream bigger and to become more ambitious with my career. Like William Miller, I was young but I was driven and ready to grow up on the road.
Just like William, I discovered my passion for music at a very young age. I was a misfit because of this passion and realized that I was different from the other kids. I wasn’t going to let that get me down, though. It didn’t take me long to realize that music was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I was willing to do anything to make that dream come true. William teaches us that if you have a vision you need to do everything in your power to go after it. That’s what I did, and sometimes it pays off to start extremely young. William stays on the tour with the band, desperately trying to get an interview from them. He doesn’t end up getting an interview until after the tour was completed. He continued to try through this entire time though. He never gave up. At the end of the movie, the lead singer in Stillwater finally answers William’s question: “What do you love about music?” He says “To begin with…everything.”
At 16, I booked a mini tour consisting of about 5 dates on the North East Coast. I sent out hundreds of emails and made several phone calls to book the tour. I did it all by myself. I was willing to do whatever it took. At 19, I booked and successfully went on a 30 date tour and was finally able to live my fantasy of the rock n’ roll life. I learned and grew with the road. I had experiences that most people never get the opportunity to have. I met people from all over the country and learned about their experiences. Touring changed my life. My passion for music still continues to drive me to do bigger things, and I will always dream big and chase after these dreams because I love “everything” about music.
Ryan Cassata is an award winning transgender singer-songwriter, actor, YouTuber, and LGBTQ activist based in New York. With features in Rolling Stone, Billboard Magazine, The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The Daily News, Ryan has made the most of his young career, which started when he was just 13.
As a musician with over 500 performances touring across the United States and internationally, including dates on the Van’s Warped Tour, SXSW and at the worlds biggest pride festivals, Ryan has been praised by The Advocate saying he’s a “Transgender singing sensation”, and LOGO put him on the “9 Trans Musicians You Need To Get Into” list.
As an actor, Ryan was the main focus in documentary “Songs for Alexis” which screened at such seminal film festivals as Frameline, Raindance, Toronto Hot Docs, and DOC NYC. His roll in indie film “Collective: Unconscious,” which received praise from Rolling Stone Magazine, won him the “Best Breakout Performance” award by the Victoria Independent Film Festival.
As an activist, he is the first recipient of the Harvey Milk Memorial award, became the youngest keynote speaker to ever be selected for the largest transgender conference in existence, and has made appearances on shows such as The Larry King Live, and The Tyra Banks show.
Currently, Ryan is in the early stages of writing a memoir and a new album of original music as a follow up to his most recent album SHINE now available on iTunes.
Committed to educating through music and speech to wipe out ignorance, Ryan continues to share his inspiring message of hope & acceptance with numerous schools and universities across the country via his popular YouTube channel and at venues across the nation.