We talked with Level E grad and current 'The Reel Deal' contestant, Ricky Lee Barnes about his time at Second City and more. Help him become a finalist on 'The Reel Deal' by voting on his Finalist Page here: http://thereeldeal.tv/ricky-lee-barnes/
Where are you from and what made you move to Chicago?
I grew up in Moraine, Ohio which is a small suburb of Dayton. I knew I wanted a bigger life than I was living and when I was presented with a job opportunity in the city I packed up the Winnebago and took to the open road. …Which was actually a U-Haul and Highway 90.
What did you think of Chicago when you first moved here?
I thought it was beautiful and super big. I remember thinking, “This is a city and they have TREES too!?” I also couldn’t believe that I lived in a neighborhood where I could walk to a bar. The only thing you can walk to in my old neighborhood is an abandoned elementary school and a Pentecostal church.
What do you love most about the city?
The summer. There is a festival every weekend and people are always ready to let their hair down and celebrate.
What do you hate most?
The 9-month winter #SAD… Oh, and the smell of hot-pee on the redline round-about August 1st.
Did you have a nickname as a child/teen (that you dont mind sharing?)
My family is from Kentucky & Virginia so…Bubba. My parents actually still call me “Bub”. My grandpa used to call me "Pistol Pete with Stinkin’ Feet" but that one faded once I hit puberty.
What made you want to be a performer?
I always wanted to be but I was afraid to admit it. I wasted a ton of time getting a degree I’ll never use (wha, what Bachelors in Communications!?) and trying to live an idealistic, “successful” life. I knew when I moved to Chicago I would perform again but it wasn’t until I started classes at the Second City that the performer actually resurfaced.
I love to talk and tell stories and make people laugh. I always have. Performing allows me to move people and entertain them using nothing but me. It’s powerful to know that I am the only tool I need.
What Classes have you taken at the Second City?
I have taken Improv A-E and performed in the Writing 6 show “Never Change”. I know that’s not a class but I learned so much that I have to count it.
What is the coolest thing that happened to you in class so far?
Learning that everyone fails. Also coming to the realization that usually we each perceive our own failure as catastrophic when, in reality, it wasn’t thatterrible.
What is the silliest improv scene you have done in class so far?
Once I was a metrosexual business man arguing with my manicurist about her attitude while reminding her that I basically pay her Comed bill. Also when I was a 19-year old Hollister employee who couldn’t let his hair down because it was so sexy it would distract all the other employees.
If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just starting the Beginning Improv program, what would it be?
Don’t try to be good - just be real. And expect to be scared the first time you ask for a suggestion.
You are a semi-finalist on The Reel Deal! How has the experience been so far?
You know, I never thought I’d be on reality tv but when I read the description of The Reel Deal I thought it would be a great experience for a few reasons: I'd be a part of the film-making process from beginning to end AND I’d be able to showcase my personality. I'd get to be Ricky and Ricky Lee Barnes in the same show.
I made my personality video and so many people encouraged me and shared it and liked it on Youtube… It was moving. Coming to the realization that I have a support network that is willing to help me achieve a goal and pursue my passion is paramount. This process has shown me what I’m capable of and inspired me to continue to fight so that I can live the life I want rather than the life I thought I wanted.
i.e. It’s been a really amazing ride so far
Right now, The Reel Deal is collecting votes for each of the actors online - what can we do to help?
Each contestant was challenged to create an initial audition/personality video as well as filmed, monologue callback videos. You can view my submissions on my personal finalist page and click the “Vote for Me” button under my headshot.
Voting is done through Squerb and I am ranked in 6 categories: Person, Acting, Appearance, Life Story, Personality, and Social Media Savviness. This system is in place to allow a more comprehensive picture of each contestant rather than being a simple “like” contest. Words like “interesting”, “convincing”, “flawless” etc. are attached to each vote. It sounds confusing but just think of it as throwing darts at a dart board covered in opinions.
Voting is open until May 15th so I have until then to get as many votes in as many categories as I can!
Finalist Page: http://thereeldeal.tv/ricky-lee-barnes/