Lottie Ryan tells us how her hard work has paid off

EntertainmentBy Lynda McCarthy
Lottie: 'I only ever believed in one way of getting to where I wanted to go, and that’s hard work and dedication'
Lottie: 'I only ever believed in one way of getting to where I wanted to go, and that’s hard work and dedication'

Having a famous name is something of a double-edged sword.

There are perks, certainly; perhaps doors are opened which would have otherwise remained resolutely shut. Or contacts who are more likely to give you a leg-up in an industry where there aren’t a lot of opportunities for new talent. But for every benefit, there’s also someone waiting in the wings for you to fall on your face so that they can say your success was merely nepotism the whole time.

So how do you prove to everyone - and to yourself - that you’re not riding on anyone’s coattails?

Hard work. That’s the answer, according to Lottie Ryan.

The 30-year-old radio presenter is, of course, daughter of radio legend Gerry Ryan, and has spent recent years carving out her own career in an industry where, for a long time, her father was top dog.

But trying to make it on your own doesn’t necessarily mean distancing yourself from where you’ve come from -  and that’s a fine line to tread. Lottie has had to become an expert in that field since Gerry’s death in April 2010.

“I guess it’s funny to me at this point because I think it’s a fairly normal thing to be in the same job as one of your parents. If you have a parent who is very passionate about his or her job, it’s bound to rub off on the kids,” says Lottie, who graduated from Griffith College Dublin with a B.A in Journalism and Visual Media in 2008

“My cousins are all studying law and their parents are lawyers, and nobody says anything to them. There are also a lot of acting families in Ireland where both parents and children are in the industry and nobody really mentions it.

“I don’t understand the frame of mind of people thinking of it as a negative thing - I’m so proud of my heritage and I think of it as a positive. I’m really proud to wear that badge and I wear it with honour.

“Honestly, I think other people think about it way more than I do. I only ever believed in one way of getting to where I wanted to go, and that’s hard work and dedication. I know people might think that it might be easier for me, but it might have been a lot harder for me in a lot of ways as well – if I was going to fall then I was going to fall a lot harder than somebody else because people might have been waiting for it.”

Lottie is the presenter of the Early Early Breakfast Show on 2fm every Saturday and Sunday from 6am to 7am   (which necessitates a 4.30am wake-up call), and holds a regular Monday-to-Friday entertainment news slot. There haven’t been any shortcuts for the diminutive brunette - with a degree under her belt, as well as several internships and work experience, her career progression has actually been fairly typical for any newbie trying to make it in the world of radio - and she insists that that’s where she’s happiest for the moment, despite dipping her toe into the TV industry.

“I think TV has taken a backseat to radio. I love how creative I’m allowed to be with radio and personally I just didn’t find that with TV. I’m really enjoying radio, I can’t see that changing.”

Scheduling Lottie for her Magazine+ photo shoot is something of a logistical nightmare. She starts work early, works every weekend and teaches dance in between – so even though it’s almost 10pm by the time we wrap up our shoot at The Spencer Hotel in Dublin’s city centre, she doesn’t let on if she’s in any way tired, even though she’s been working 14 hours at this stage.

“Anything worth having, you have to work your arse of for – there’s no joy in arriving at a point if you haven’t fallen down a million times to get there. I’m really proud of my degree and my internships and all my work experience. If I hadn’t done all that, I wouldn’t be where I am.

Lottie is the eldest of the five Ryan kids - she’s the big (and doting) sister to Rex (25), Bonnie (23), Elliot (19) and 16-year-old Babette.  

“We were raised to work and to work hard, and to be passionate about what you do and that was the most important thing. If you’re going to work hard at something and you’re going to do it a lot, then you’d better bloody love it. 

“You pick something you love and then you go at it. That’s how I watched my parents growing up with their disciplines, so that’s just all I know. What other way is there to work?”

There were plenty of early signs that the Clontarf girl wasn’t going to be someone who took the easy road - when most children were on the couch watching Saturday morning cartoons, Lottie was already hours deep into dance rehearsals. She intended to pursue dance professionally until injuries got in her way.

“I started out just dancing at the weekends. I’m sure my parents loved the fact that I wanted to go off and do five or six hours of classes - I was basically gone all day Saturday, all day Sunday, and then I got older and I started performing and going abroad. I don’t know where it came from, it was just in me, I just wanted to do it all the time, I don’t know why. There was just a drive in me from a really young age.”

After training in dance at New York’s Broadway Dance Centre, Lottie choreographed routines for Westlife’s support acts and for Childline Live at The 02. 

Her mother, Morah, who was married to Gerry for 26 years before the couple separated in 2008, studied fine art, and Rex is an up-and-coming actor - so clearly Lottie comes from creative stock. She laughingly recalls how she and her siblings would force their parents and neighbours to watch them perform.

“I was always performing, we were always putting on shows in my house. We’d have kids from the whole road come over and we’d dress up and make people pay to come in and watch us do some ridiculous type of pantomime and take videos and record it. I have hours and hours of videos of those times. They do give me a good laugh now, actually. At the time we had such enjoyment with it, it kept us occupied – we were basically like the Von Trapp children.”

Lottie now lives with her long-term partner, Fabio Aprile, but she admits that when she flew the North Dublin nest she didn’t fly very far. She wanted to stay close to her family, who she jokingly refers to as The Brady Bunch - so she and Fabio have set up home up the road from the Ryan homestead. 

“I love having a big family, I love that we can go to each other for advice. There are five of us, so it’s handy. Each of us has such a unique personality, and I know that a very particular problem needs to go to a particular sibling. Sometimes a particular problem might just need to go to my mum. It’s important to have them around and it’s important that they know they can come to me for stuff as well. That’s one of the best things about having a big family.

“My youngest sister, Babs, is only 16, so when I moved out I still wanted to be close to her. I like to try and be part of her everyday life too. I see her with her friends and I’m so glad I’m not a teenager now.

“When I was young life was easier. We were allowed to make mistakes and not have them recorded. I was only saying to her [Babette] the other day that, when I was her age, I was so content with my blue glitter eyeshadow and my O’Neills tracksuit bottoms and my Skechers - and there’s her looking like a supermodel. She’s 16 and she’s, like, two foot taller than me.”

Lottie has just been announced as the new ambassador for Temple Street Children’s Hospital (#TempleStreetKids), where, she says, she and her siblings spent plenty of time when they were younger.

“I was a bit of a tomboy growing up so I had plenty of broken bones. My brother, Rex, drank a bottle of Brasso when he was a baby, so that was another emergency visit. I think most kids have ended up there at some stage. The staff are just incredible, they really deserve all the help in the world.” :