Ryan-Jamaal-Swain
Ryan Jamaal Swain | Biography 2021

Quick Information

  • Full Name Ryan Jamaal Swain
  • Occupation Actor, Former Restaurant Worker
  • Nationality American
  • Birthplace Orlando, Florida, U.S.
  • Birth Date Mar 13, 1994
  • Age 27 Years, 4 Months
Damon Richards-Evangelista on 'Pose'

Ryan Jamaal Swain | Biography 2021

Starred as Billy Crocker in the Play 'Anything Goes' while at Howard University

After graduating from college, Ryan Jammal Swain worked at several hospitality gigs, including a Japanese restaurant. Soon, his life would turn completely upside down in a matter of seconds. The actor went from having $50 in his pocket and sleeping on a friend’s couch to being a part of the critically acclaimed television series, Pose. 


Ryan Jamaal Swain is a queer American actor prominently known for portraying the homeless LGBTQ+ dancer character, Damon Richards-Evangelista, in the FX drama series Pose

Who Is Ryan Jamaal Swain?

Swain landed the role of Damon Richards in Ryan Murphy’s FX television show Pose in 2017. The show was premiered on 3 June 2018 and received positive reviews from both audiences and critics.

The actor has also worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway as a classically trained performer. In 2019, he stepped into the lead role of Pharus in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s critically praised musical Choir Boy.

Some of his popular acting credits include Six Degrees of SeparationThoughts of a Colored Man, and Spring Awakening.

In 2014, Swain wrote and starred on A Negro Writer, a one-person show about African American writer Langston Hughes and his life. In the past (exact date unknown), he had announced that he was developing a children’s book about queer Southern teenager highs and lows in life, AL reports.

Early Life

Born on 13 March 1994 to a single mother in Orlando, Florida, Ryan Jamaal Swain grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, as the oldest of four kids.

While Swain was interested in arts from a very young age, his family members gravitated toward the medical industry. 

At the age of four, Swain began taking tap dancing lessons and eventually expanded his skills in other dance forms such as ballet, jazz, modern, and hip-hop dance.

While growing up in Alabama, he learned dancing and acting at Alabama Dance Academy, Red Mountain Theatre Company, Birmingham Children’s Theatre, Alabama Ballet, and Virginia Samford Theatre.

After receiving training at local theatrical and dance groups in his hometown, Swain would later study B.F.A. at Howard University’s British American Drama Academy in Oxford, U.K.

Pursuing Acting after Tennis

He initially became interested in acting when he was in grade nine. Then, Swain was looking for an internship since he was training to be a professional tennis player.

He joined the drama program only after enrolling in a public high school, which offered an after-school drama program. Soon after, he realized he wanted to make a career out of it. So, he auditioned for a performing arts high school in his native state of Alabama (Alabama School of Fine Arts).

“I was like, ‘Okay, cool. I’ve always wanted to do drama.’ And sure enough, I found my niche. It was like a fish to water.”

Swain moved to New York City after completing his studies in the U.K.

Career 

After graduating from college, he worked at several hospitality gigs, including a Japanese restaurant.

Soon, his life would turn completely upside down in a matter of seconds. The actor went from having $50 in his pocket and sleeping on a friend’s couch to being a part of the critically acclaimed television series, Pose

Stage Career

Swain has definitely found his niche on television, but the stage will always have a special place in his heart. He has spent a lot of time doing theater and has even received professional training.

He starred as Billy Crocker on Anything Goes while at Howard University. The play took place on 14 March 2015 at the Ira Aldridge Theater–2455 6th Street, NW, in Washington, D.C. 

He has also starred in Off-Broadway productions, including Kill Move Paradise at the National Black Theatre in New York and plays like Six Degrees of SeparationThoughts of a Colored Man, and Spring Awakening

In 2018, he hosted an impromptu acting session at the Forma Arts + Wellness facility in Birmingham.

Television Career ‘Pose’

In 2018, he was cast as Damon Evangelista in the Murphy’s FX series Pose. He played the role of a homeless LGBTQ+ dancer character. 

The show was co-created by Murphy, Steven Canals, and Brad Falchuk.

“[My character Damon] is such a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young individual coming into this new space not knowing anyone or anything,” he shared.

The drama series, set in the 1980s, examines the collision of many aspects of life and society in New York. It shows the establishment of the Trump-era affluent world, the downtown society, and the realm of ball culture.

Including over 50 transgender personalities such as Indya Moore, Mj Rodriguez, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross, the first season of Pose had the biggest cast of transgender actors ever for a scripted network series. It aired on 3 June 2018, during Pride Month.

The second season of the series premiered in June 2019. At the end of Season 2, Wain’s character Damon returned to New York after learning of Blanca’s (MJ Rodriguez) AIDS-related issues.

While fans hoped to see him more often in Season 3, Damon was scarcely featured during its debut on 2 May 2021. Swain’s character finally reappeared for the third final season’s first episode but was left out from the second half of the episode. 

The remaining half was filmed after Swain departed from the series due to his real-life sister’s death. The last season ended on 6 June 2021.

Family, Stepfather & On Homophobic abuse 

According to Swain, he had to go through homophobic abuse from his stepfather while growing up. He recalls that his stepfather was physically and emotionally abusive to him. ‘It was very much homophobic, very hard. A child needs to be told they’re safe, heard, and loved.’

Sister’s Death 

Swain’s sister, Raven Lynette Swain, was shot dead at the age of 24 in Birmingham, Alabama, in July 2020. She was discovered in the driver’s seat of a car parked with numerous gunshot wounds and was declared dead on the scene.

In the wake of the unfortunate incident, the actor took to Instagram to share a collection of childhood images of himself and his sister. He wrote, “Know that your big brother and family will always honor you. We will honor you by how we love. We will honor you by how we live. We will honor you with justice. We will forever say your name, Raven Lynette Swain.”

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