Rylan, a 1999 graduate of Tyrone Area High School, joined the cast of the CBS soap opera “Guiding Light” in February 2006 as Lizzie Spaulding, daughter of Beth Raines-Spaulding and Phillip Spaulding.
Born and raised in Altoona and Tyrone, Rylan is the youngest of six children. She still recalls the difficulty she had leaving her family and small-town comfort to pursue a dream.
“It’s hard, but the truth is, if you really want a professional acting career, aside from local theater, you have to move to the big cities — New York City or L.A.,” said Rylan, who declined to give her age because of contractual reasons with the show. “There’s just no way around it — you have to make the move.”
And that’s exactly what she did. After graduating from high school, she moved to Connecticut where she did TV commercials, then to New York City, where she completed a two-year acting program at the William Esper Studio, a professional actor training school. She still lives in New York.
Her dancing skills won her the leading role in the 2006 cheerleading movie ‘‘Bring it On 3,’’ in which she starred alongside Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s sister) and Hayden Panettiere, who also played Lizzie on ‘‘Guiding Light.”
‘‘I was on the floor screaming when I got that role (“Bring It On 3”). I was so excited,’’ Rylan said. ‘‘At that time, I was doing more and more commercials and bit parts, going up against Hollywood kids. I had no credits to my name, so no one wanted to trust me with the lead role in a movie. But they needed a comedic actor who could dance, and lucky for me, none of the other girls who showed up could dance at all.”
‘‘I got paid ... but I would’ve done it for nothing,’’ she said. ‘‘‘Bring It On 3’ was really the tipping point for me getting the role on ‘Guiding Light.’”
Rylan comes back to the area every couple months to visit friends and family, she said. Her fondest childhood memory is going to Bland’s Park (now Delgrosso’s Amusement Park), Tipton, and watching the Fourth of July fireworks with her family. In fact, her first work experience was a summer job operating the kiddie rides at Bland’s Park. As a teenager, she worked at a clothing store in the Logan Valley Mall.
‘‘They had the coolest clothes, and I wanted the discount,’’ she said.
Eating at Hoss’s and buying a jar of Delgrosso’s spaghetti sauce to take back to NYC are both requirements of her return visits, she said.
‘‘I still talk to my friends back home every day,’’ she said. ‘‘They’ve always been, and still are, very supportive of me.’’
Rylan attended St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parochial School, Altoona, from first to fifth grade, then moved to Tyrone, where she was a student at St. Matthew’s School and Tyrone Area middle and high schools.
‘‘She was a real optimistic and fun-loving type of person, and a really talented writer and speaker,’’ said Steve Ever-hart, English and foreign languages teacher at Tyrone Area High School. ‘‘She was always very aggressive about her career. She knew from a pretty young age, when she was involved in dance, that she wanted to be an actress someday.’’
Everhart recalls writing a letter of recommendation for Rylan to attend acting school in New York City.
‘‘I can’t remember the name of the school, but I remember she had a very dramatic, charming smile,’’ he said. ‘‘She was a light-up-the-room kind of girl. I even have a few students today who write about her. One of my essay assignments is to write about someone locally who they think is deserving of honor or praise — her name often comes up.’’
Rylan studied dance at Sigel’s School of Dance in Altoona “as soon as she could walk,” she said. Her parents knew she was destined to work in the performing arts.
‘‘We always said she was a little ham,’’ said Cheryl Wunsch, Rylan’s mother. ‘‘She was always very expressive and always loved people and performing. She’s very passionate about her acting. Even when she was eating green beans out of a can and waiting on tables, she would always say, ‘Mom, I would do this for free.’”
Richard Behrens, Rylan’s father, sometimes worries about his youngest daughter being in show business, but trusts that her ‘‘down-to-earth nature’’ will keep her grounded.
‘‘I’m just as proud as I can be of the person she is and the character she has,’’ he said. “Fame is fun, but in many ways, I hope she doesn’t become too famous and have to lose her privacy, deal with paparazzi and things like that. In that case, I’d guard her myself. All I want is for her to be happy.”
Rylan hopes to instill in area kids the idea that their dreams can come true, too.
‘‘If there’s anything I hope would come from this, in terms of my own hometown area, it’s that I hope it inspires people to do what they want,’’ she said. “You can absolutely get something if you set your mind to it.’’
Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460.
Tyrone native Marcy Rylan, who plays Lizzie Spaulding on “Guiding Light,” is shown with co-star Daniel Cosgrove, who plays Bill Lewis.
Fact BoxRylan file
NAME: Marcy Rylan
Family: Rylan is the youngest of six children. Her mother, Cheryl Wunsch, lives in Centre County, and her father, Richard Behrens, lives in Tyrone.
Education: Rylan attended St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parochial in Altoona from first through fifth grade, until she moved to Tyrone. She attended Tyrone Area Middle School and graduated from Tyrone Area High School in 1999.
Background: Before she landed her role on “Guiding Light,” Rylan did TV commercials and had a role in “Bring It On 3.” She also completed a two-year program at the William Esper Studio, a professional actor training school.
Quote: “If there’s anything I hope would come from this, in terms of my own hometown area, it’s that I hope it inspires people to do what they want. You can absolutely do something if you set your mind to it.’’