Rodger Edralin photo
Name: Ryan Lebar
Model/actor Ryan LeBar is a long way from Thunder Bay.
The 25-year-old is enjoying success in his career with go-go dancing gigs, winning modelling contests, training celebs like Vin Diesel, Brittany Snow and Adam Shankman, and appearing on TV shows like Canada’s Next Top Cover Guy and in films like Cinderella Man.
But it’s been a difficult climb — unscrupulous industry folk prey on hungry, young talent, LeBar says.
"Sure modeling entails selling your body, but only to a point. I’ve never and will never prostitute myself or pose in porn despite the offers, and despite what I’ve seen in the fashion and movie industries," LeBar says.
The French-Irish Canadian was born in Nipigon, Ont., and moved to Thunder Bay when he was 12. Raised by an abusive father, who abandoned LeBar along with his older brother and mother, life looked bleak.
"I just knew I had to get out of there. I had no idea where I was going, but I was going," LeBar says.
The penniless 17-year-old hitchhiked his way to Ottawa where he befriended a group of skateboarders. In exchange for odd jobs, their parents took LeBar in.
Six months later, LeBar trekked to Toronto, eventually landing a job as a personal trainer at a gym in Woodbridge and carving his own body into an Adonis-like figure.
He was noticed, and soon found himself modeling in calendars. His foray looked promising, but he wasn’t paid for his work. That was six years ago; he says he still hasn’t seen a cent from those shoots.
Jaded but still excited by his prospects, the small-town boy became enlightened of what was possible in the big city. More modelling gigs came his way — some were legit, such as those with fashion labels Rock & Republik, GotStyle, Energie and Diesel.
Others served as life lessons in trust; one particular website, after a promising start, seems to be headed for a legal battle over alleged misuse.
But LeBar has recently forged a network of bases in New York, Los Angeles and South Beach to further his international modelling and acting aspirations. His Toronto alliance with a fashion photographer has spawned a stunning body of work, some of which can be viewed at www.RodgerEdralin.com.
A writer has approached LeBar about penning his memoirs and developing it into a movie. But with all the stop/starts in his life, you just never know where fate will lead LeBar.
As a backup plan, LeBar is learning the ropes of photography.
He has advice to newcomers of the modelling and entertainment world: "Stay true to yourself and never sell your soul."