Behind the Scenes With RYALS
"Through the Joy I call life"
Mike Ryals Ilani, known simply as Ryals, is a singer and songwriter born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine and now residing in New York, NY.
Ryals’ musical style, both in songwriting and performing, ranges from pop to pop-soul, with inspiration from pop, musical theater, doo-wop, rockabilly, classical music and beyond. Growing up as an Americanophile, Ryals loves exposing himself and drawing influence from country music, 1950’s classics, and pop icons like Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga.
Ryals has a Bachelor of Arts in Acting and Musical Theatre from the Kiev Academy of the Arts. Among his musical theater credits was playing the lead singer and dancer in the “Michael Jackson Cover Project” and Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliette.” Other credits were ensemble roles in “Notre Dame de Paris”, “Marilyn”, “Cats”, and “Dracula”.
The training was wide reaching in dance, voice, and acting.
Upon graduating from the Academy, Ryals focused his energy on song writing, achieving the honor of co-writing Ukraine’s 2018 EUROVISION Contest song, “Under the Ladder.”
One of the roles Ryals is most proud of is his big screen debut in the European release of the movie, “Let’s Dance,” where the director combined two roles to fully exploit his skill set. Aside from the powerful message of dance in the movie, it was a chance to highlight the LGBTQIA community in a market that has had limited portrayals of LGBTQIA roles in mass media.
Leaving Ukraine, Ryals saw the world as a dancer on the Holland America Cruise Line, both honing his dance skills and expanding his ongoing love for travel, adventure and learning fluent English.
Ryals released his first album, “State of Liberty” in 2018 and will release his next album, “4 thousand miles away” in 2020. Songwriting remains a passion, as well, writing for several international artists across genres.
Ryals is committed to continue to release original music, collaborate with gifted songwriters, producers and other artists. He is also steadfast in his commitment to the LGBTQI international community, asylum seekers, refugees, and ending violence and persecution to oppressed people of all kinds. He is an activist in repealing international anti LGBTQI legislation that results in human rights violations and partners with organizations like Rainbow Railroad that provide immediate assistance to vulnerable people across the globe.