Katherine Ryan on ‘Hair’, drag queens, and ‘f***ing men up’
PinkNews caught up with comedian and actor Katherine Ryan, who presents BBC series ‘Hair’, on why she applauds drag queens for their comedy, and likes “f*cking men up” by having her own voice.
Airing on July 13th, ‘Hair’ will return to the television screen with an array of changes, including its premier on BBC Two and its new show host, Katherine Ryan.
She said: “The whole show is more in the field, like they’re out, doing different challenges with real-world people and that adds a certain level of jeopardy to it.”
Joined by judges Denise McAdam and Alain Pichon, the competitors will style based on varying themes, such as “Architecture,” “Horror Hair,” and “Nature.”
Ryan highlights that the purpose of her job is to not only bring playfulness to the screen, but to “make the subjects of the show shine as much as they can.”
Because The BBC is funded by the general public, she explains that it attempts to be as diverse and representative as possible to appeal to its audience.
A characteristically British aspect of television is the fact that popular shows are both amusing and tools for learning.
She said: “You’re learning about something and it’s an exciting show because it’s a competition, so there’s that.
“It’s also something you can take transferable skills from.”
The appeal of ‘Hair’ is its focus away from unrealistic body standards. By covering a spectrum of hair types- from Afro-Caribbean to Asian- the audience can actually learn about styling and general care.
When it comes to the LGBT influence throughout the industry, the comedian credited the community for its contributions.
She said: “We’d be lying if we didn’t say a lot of our best hair and make-up stylists were powerful gay men.
“They are the trailblazers in contouring.”
The impact runs deeper than the surface, however.
Native to Essex, one of the 10 contestants, 33-year-old Phil, openly represents the LGBT community.
Praising the support of his partner of 10 years, Phil said to ‘Hair’: “He’s massively supportive.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Referencing Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner, Katherine Ryan described the growing LGBT presence in the media as “long overdue.”
In reference to her experience in entertainment, she praises drag queens for their senses of humour.
Ryan said: “Drag queens are comedians.
“That’s their job because they’re doing stand-up while they’re pastiching Diana Ross or whomever else. . .
“This whole movement- not one part of it or another- is making film and television more funny, more honest, and more ballsy- pun intended.”
She explained that being a female comedian has its benefits, but not without its obstacles in the beginning.
Although women have been welcomed into the field in recent years, the industry’s first stages can often leave all entertainers without a steady source of income.
By relying on generosity and plain luck, female entertainers, along with other minorities, are exposed to more danger throughout the process.
Ryan said: “We can’t just be alone in a dark alley the way a strong, young, white male can be. . .
“I think that that’s one of the reasons that there are fewer women who maybe last in those early stages because we just can’t, I just can’t sleep on a stranger’s floor.”
Even as careers develop, threats still persist in the form of sexual harassment through social media.
She pointed out the amount of unwarranted tweets she receives with vulgar implications, possibly stemming from her stereotype-shattering identity as a female comic.
A vital quality she possesses is her thick skin in such situations.
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Ryan said: “I kind of get like a weird crush thing a lot because they can’t understand why they find a woman with a voice sexy.
“And it really f*cks them up.”
In the United Kingdom especially, Ryan believes women are finally being given opportunities to be valued for more than their bodies, especially on television.
She thinks the United States still has strides to make in that area, as she said: “I wouldn’t be allowed near a TV in America because I’m over 30 and I don’t have an eating disorder.”
Originally from Sarnia, Canada, Ryan applauds the United Kingdom for its progressive attitude, in spite of its Conservative Government.