Debby Ryan was born in Huntsville, Alabama, but spent some of her childhood in Europe as an army brat. She moved back to the States when she was ten and spent some time in Texas before she moved to Los Angeles to start her acting career.
Ryan is a devout Christian, and even started a bible study for fellow kid actors. Her relationship to God is personal for her, and not too tied up in doctrine.
I don’t find it a religion. I feel like religion is a word that’s synonymous with rules. For me, it’s all about a relationship I have with God. I’m accountable to Him. People can judge it all they want to, but it’s not going to change my mind.
Despite having doubts as young as nine-years-old about the religion she had been raised with, she eventually jumped all-in with the whole Christian thing after she had a conversation with God.
I felt His presence like He was sitting next to me. God was like, ‘Don’t you understand? I want to love you. I created you. I sacrificed for you. And I want to spend time with you.’
She feels so strongly about her belief in God that she would apparently kill someone if God told her to, just like her favorite Bible heroine Jael did:
I mean, I’m a strong girl. I would like to think that if I was in the same situation… I don’t know if using a tent peg would be my first thought! But if that’s the way it had to be done…
Luckily her faith hasn’t been tested to that degree yet, because I’m pretty sure there are people in high-security psychiatric wards for that type of thing.
Unlike her enthusiasm for all things Christian, Debby has been mute on her political affiliations. Considering she only just became old enough to cast a vote in an election, I suppose we can give her a pass this time.
She is, however, active in Disney’s charity, Friends for Change. The organization uses the fame of its young actors to promote various global programs, mostly focused on environmental issues.
She is specifically involved in a project to help build a school in India, and apparently the whole thing was her idea.
It was something that I took to Disney. I said India, we have to go. People, we have to help them. Let’s build! And we did.
Debby Ryan seems genuinely sincere about her religion and her social activism in an almost sadly innocent way. It doesn’t seem like she’s been too badly burned yet. Maybe she’s not cynical enough to enter the formal political landscape yet, but I’m sure it will come to her.