- Full Name Ryan Phuong
- Occupation Dancer, Actor
- Nationality America
- Birthplace California, USA
- Birth Date Dec 27, 2001
- Age 20 Years, 6 Months
Ryan Phuong | BiographyWon the ‘Young Entertainer Award’ in 2019 for his role in 'Young Sheldon'
Miss Allen pushed us to explore everything, and I started to really give acting a chance by taking classes and going after auditions. But, what really made me interested in acting was that it’s similar to dance and how you express your feelings with movements. I love blending the different art forms because as dancers we have to express and act as well.
Ryan Phuong is a hip-hop dancer and actor, best known for portraying the role of Tam Nguyen in the CBS hit sitcom Young Sheldon.
Who is Ryan Phuong?
Ryan Phuong started dancing when he was seven years old. He then attended the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, where he performed Allen’s annual live productions of Hot Chocolate Nutcracker every year. The showcase was later featured in the Netflix documentary film Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker in 2020.
Phuong later joined acting classes and started going for auditions. After playing minor roles in some of the television series such as The AXI: The Avengers of Extreme Illusions (2011), Shameless (2011), and The Thundermans (2013), Phuong landed a significant role as Tam Nguyen in CBS’s comedy television sitcom Young Sheldon, a spin-off prequel to The Big Bang Theory. For his role in the series, he also won the ‘Young Entertainer Award’ in 2019.
Age & Early Life
Ryan Phuong was born in San Gabriel, California, the United States, on 27 December 2001. He would turn 20 years old on 27 December 2021.
He has an older brother, Jack. Started dancing at the young age of seven, Phuong joined the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. After his mentor Debbie Allen’s advice to be open to other endeavors, Phuong started to explore his talent in acting.
“Miss Allen pushed us to explore everything, and I started to really give acting a chance by taking classes and going after auditions,” Phuong said. “But, what really made me interested in acting was that it’s similar to dance and how you express your feelings with movements. I love blending the different art forms because as dancers we have to express and act as well,” he added.
Phuong expanded his mindset after learning the importance of balancing one’s emotions in dancing and acting from Allen's class. About the journey into radical self-love, he acknowledged, “changing how I perceive myself and being in touch with my emotions more helped me to be free.”
USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance
In 2020, he enrolled at the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance's Class of 2024 to do a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance. Glorya Kaufman School of Dance was established by Glorya Kaufman in 2012 as the sixth art school of the University of Southern California. Over the years, it became one of the top dance schools in producing dancers, choreographers, and dance leaders for the future.
While applying to USC, Phuong was confused about balancing his acting work and dance school parallelly. But, he gained the confidence to carry on with his aspirations through constant encouragement from his friends, family, and well-wishers.
“That entire time period of applying to USC, including my audition piece, I kept thinking, “How is this going to work?” But having faith and being determined in myself, and having a solid team, like my parents and classmates, has made it all easier,” Phuong said.
He balanced both of his endeavors during his first semester and developed this mindset in future semesters.
‘Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker’
Phuong performed in live productions every year during his time at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. He regularly performed in Allen’s annual Christmas ballet showcase called Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. The showcase later became the subject of the Netflix documentary film Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. It featured Debbie Allen’s career and behind-the-scenes of her dance group students, including Phuong, as they prepare for Allen’s annual showcase Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. According to Netflix’s official site, the documentary was an inspiring and feel-good movie. The documentary was directed and filmed by Oliver Bokelberg and was released on November 27, 2020, in the USA.
“When it would come close to November, we started rehearsing on weekdays. So, it was Monday through Saturday or even sometimes Monday through Sunday,” Phuong said. “The role I played was just going through rehearsals while [Bolkenberg] would come in and be backstage filming the process of it all.”
Video Game: ‘Just Dance Kids 2’
Phuong was one of the dancers in the dance-based video game Just Dance Kids 2, released on October 25, 2011. Directed by Jeremy Haft, the video game starred many dancers including, Aiden Alizadeh, Alyssa Jose, and Angel Gibbs. Just Dance Kids 2 has been released on platforms such as the Wii, Kinect for Xbox 360, and PlayStation Move for PlayStation 3. The video game contained 40 dance routines with colorful graphics, exciting dance moves, and child-friendly gameplay. It featured hit songs from popular artists, children’s favorite movies, and television shows, including ‘Love Me,’ ‘Despicable Me,’ and ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.’
‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘The Voice’
In 2011, he also appeared as a dancer on Dancing with the Stars and The Voice.
‘The Fresh Beat Band’
Phuong's initial acting experience was on the Nickelodeon musical family show The Fresh Beat Band, which followed the story of four musicians and highlights the importance of friendship and co-working positively while also respecting differences in others. Phuong acted on the show for seasons 2 and 3. According to Phuong, he was around six years old at that time. The Fresh Beat Band aired from 2009 to 2013 for three seasons.
‘The AXI: The Avengers of Extreme Illusions’
In 2012, Phuong appeared as a child in one episode of the action-adventure musical series The AXI: The Avengers of Extreme Illusions (2011-2019). He appeared in Season 1 Episode 5 titled ‘Perchance to Dream’ which aired on 21 August 2012.
The AXI: The Avengers of Extreme Illusions was created by the founder of Welling Films and Planet Funk Academy, Shawn Welling. It was a web series that chronicled the battle between the mythical powers of AXI: The Avengers of Extreme Illusions and the forces of evil called Dark Army, unfolding the conflict of a different Avenger’s story in each episode.
The musical web series has won multiple awards from WorldFest Houston from 2012 to 2016. It also received the ‘Film Festival Award’ under the category ‘Best Comedy’ for the episode titled ‘The Game’ at Gulf Coast Film & Video Festival in 2014.
‘Shameless’ and ‘The Thundermans’
Phuong then portrayed the role of Boy Soldier in an episode titled ‘Refugees’ of the comedy-drama television series Shameless (2011-2021) in 2016. Shameless is a four-time ‘Primetime Emmy Award’-winning series. It is also a recipient of numerous other awards and nominations.
The same year, he starred as Punk Rocker Kid in an episode titled ‘Beat the Parents’ of the action-comedy television series The Thundermans (2013-2018). The episode which he appeared in aired on 16 July 2016. The Thundermans was the award-winning Nickelodeon show. It won the ‘Blimp Award’ and the ‘Kids’ Choice Award’ under the category ‘Favorite TV Show’ in 2016.
Ryan Phuong on 'Young Sheldon'
After playing minor roles in some of the television series, Phuong auditioned for the Young Sheldon when he was in high school. He landed a prominent role of Tam Nguyen on the series portraying the role of childhood closest friend and classmate of the series’s lead character Sheldon Cooper (played by Iain Armitage). The show's other cast members include Lance Barber, Zoe Perry, and Raegan Revord.
He portrayed the character of a pessimistic, short-tempered Vietnamese-American boy. Tam has a troubled home life and quarrelsome relationship with his parents on Young Sheldon, which contributes to his pessimistic and short-tempered behavior on the show. However, Tam is the only person, outside Sheldon’s immediate family, who appears to be tolerating the peculiarities of Young Sheldon’s most intelligent character, Sheldon. Not only Tam, but Sheldon also appears to be the only person who endures Tam’s bad temper.
The show was also filmed during the coronavirus pandemic with strict safety measures. Phuong said that they used to test frequently before filming, maintained social distancing, and wore the mask while on the set.
Phuong was cast in a recurring role in Young Sheldon. He has appeared in 30 episodes since the first season that began in 2017. According to IMDb, the latest episode he appeared on Young Sheldon was on Season 4 Episode 15 that aired on 22 April 2021. Season 4 was concluded in May 2021.
In March 2021, CBS renewed the series for the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons. According to Kelly Kahl, President of CBS Entertainment, Young Sheldon has over 2.5 million viewers.
Tam Nguyen on ‘Big Bang Theory’
Even though Tam is Sheldon’s best friend as a child, the grown-up version of Sheldon (played by Jim Parsons) never mentioned him on Big Bang Theory until the final season of the show. The reason was revealed in the fourth episode titled ‘The Tam Turbulence’ of Big Bang Theory’s Season 12, in which the grown-up version of Tam (played by Robert Wu) appeared. The episode aired on 11 October 2018.
In the episode, the adult version of Sheldon reveals that he has not talked to Tam since high school. Sheldon and Tam promise to move to California together, but Tam backs out at the last minute and decides to stay back in Texas. This hurts Sheldon greatly that he promises himself not to talk with Tam again. But grown-up Sheldon meets Tam again through his adult best friends, including Leonard Hofstadter (played by Johnny Galecki). Sheldon had no intention to talk with Tam at first, but they became friends again by the end of the episode.
Awards and Recognitions
His role in Young Sheldon also earned him the ‘Young Entertainer Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Young Actor - Television Series’ at ‘The 4th Annual Young Entertainer Awards,’ in 2019. In 2020, Screenrant ranked Tam’s character as one of the intelligent and likable characters of the show.
Phuong describes himself as a determined, hardworking, and joyful person. During an interview on The Kayden Gordon Show, he shared that he learned self-love and discovered new things about himself while staying in isolation during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Phuong is active on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Most of his social media posts consist of videos of his hip-hop dance classes and clips of his role in Young Sheldon.