Tyron Ricketts: establishing diversity as normality
Austrian born actor, producer and musician Tyron Ricketts, best known for playing roles in Die Inselärztin, Soko Leipzig or Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, speaks to Discover Germany about his love for Berlin, the creative freedom of acting, discrimination and racism in Germany’s film industry, his passion for surfing and much more.
You were born in Austria, have spent time in New York and L.A. and now live in Berlin. What does ‘home’ mean to you and why is Berlin your current place of residence?
T. Ricketts: To me, ‘home’ is a place where I feel comfortable. To feel comfortable, however, some different requirements need to be fulfilled. These requirements also change from time to time – depending on the life stage that I’m currently in. What has always been important to me is that the place where I live can also be a breeding ground for my creative expression. For example, if I would have stayed in Aachen after my Abitur, acting would have probably became rather difficult. My time in the USA was important to learn something new professionally. Berlin is currently my life centre because it offers the opportunity to be close to my friends, a network with which I can implement my professional plans and because its life quality offers exactly what I currently need.
Actor, producer and musician – is that your absolute dream job? Did others ever exist?
T. Ricketts: As a child, I wanted to become an animal keeper. Shortly before finishing school, I decided to study design. During my studies in Cologne I already had first experiences in acting and producing and was enthusiastic about the fact that I was able to have more creative freedom in this area than my studies would have allowed. When you are able to tell stories yourself and also have the opportunity to implement these in various ways, it is a very fulfilling experience.
You have fought for tolerance and against racism and discrimination for a while now. In what way can the German film industry do more against discrimination in your opinion?
T. Ricketts: I don’t think the structures in the German film industry are designed to show and regard diversity as normality. It’s rare to see a German actor with a migrant background in a normal role that shows them in the centre of society. Time and time again, they problematise or emphasise, but the necessary normality that we all need for a peaceful co-existence is an exception. I think it’s counterproductive when politics talks about integration, but the entertainment industry emphasises and highlights existing problems and stereotypes again and again. Where are the educational goals here?
You are a passionate surfer. Can you describe the feeling you get when on the board, to all of those that have not been able to experience surfing yet?
T. Ricketts: During surfing it is necessary to be 100 per cent in the moment – no thoughts about what still needs to be done or what has been forgotten. Surfing is about subordinating oneself to the force of the wave and becoming one with the water. Endorphins and adrenaline get released and you also become fit doing it. You can describe it with the feeling which you feel when you’re in love. I think you have to do it to understand it.
Speaking of surfing – summer is coming and holiday plans have to be made. Do you have tips? What is your favourite surfing spot?
T. Ricketts: In summer I will be in Mauritius again because we will film more parts of the Inselärztin. One of my favourite destinations for travelling is Costa Rica. You can surf there beautifully and also have a huge choice of breathtaking experiences. Volcanoes, rain forests, beaches… I think it’s great.
In January you were seen in Die Inselärztin amongst other television shows, and you are currently filming a project in New York. What else is planned for 2018? What can we look forward to from you?
T. Ricketts: I’m really happy that I have a small part in Dogs of Berlin – a Netflix series that will hopefully be shown soon. There are a few more projects in the pipeline but I can’t talk about them yet. What I can say is that I have restarted my own production firm Panthertainment and that we will work on two very exciting stories this year – both playing in Berlin. With Panthertainment, we are trying to establish a different perspective of storytelling, contrary to the more Eurocentric perspectives that are omnipresent at the moment.
Does the one, absolute dream role exist for you?
T. Ricketts: An absolute dream role is to play a character whose skin colour doesn’t matter in a movie. Is that asking too much?
And finally: what other wishes and dreams do you still have?
T. Ricketts: I wish that more people would bother to engage with life’s complexity and assume more responsibility for their surroundings. At the moment, I’ve got the feeling that many people simply want to have easy answers to difficult situations and thus, run after those that promise these simple answers. Staying alert and awake, thinking, taking action themselves. That’s what I wish for.
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTOS: CHRISTIAN AMOUZOU
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