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Debby Ryan of "Jessie" has always wanted to wield a wand on the Disney Channel

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Debby Ryan of "Jessie" has always wanted to wield a wand on the Disney Channel

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Most little girls - as they are growing up - would stand in front of the mirror and sing into a hair brush, pretending that they're a pop star.

Not Debby Ryan. When she was a little kid, Debby would stand in front of her mirror and practice doing a wand ID for the Disney Channel (You know? When a famous Disney character or a performer from one of this cable network show draws that Mouse Ears-shape in the lower left-hand corner of your TV screen and then says "You're watching the Disney Channel"?).

"I was talking with Selena Gomez one time and I actually confessed that I had done this. Practiced doing the Disney Channel wand ID in a mirror when I was a little kid," Ryan said during a recent phone interview. "And that's when Selena told me that she had done the exact same thing."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"But you have to understand that - for my generation - that's when you know you've really made it as a performer. When you're on the Disney Channel, waving that wand and making the Mickey shape," Debby continued. "Which is why it was so surreal when the Publicity department finally called and said 'We need you to come in and shoot your wand ID.' Because I'd literally been dreaming about doing that for years. And now this dream was finally being made real."

Mind you, there was a lot of hard work that led up to that moment. Years of classes & auditions. Not to mention appearing in television commercials as well as performing alongside that big purple dinosaur, Barney. But Disney obviously something that they liked in Ms. Ryan. Which is why Debby was tapped to play Bailey Pickett in that "Suite Life of Zack & Cody" spin-off, "The Suite Life on Deck."

And given that she showed so much promise and obviously gave her all when it came to this supporting role, other doors began opening at the Disney Channel for Debby. First came the Disney Channel Original movies, "16 Wishes" and "The Suite Life Movie." Then - as production of "The Suite Life on Deck" was winding down - word came down from Disney Channel headquarters that this cable network was now interested in having Ryan star in her very own series.

Debby Ryan sings "Deck the Halls" in the 2010 Disney Parks
Holiday Special. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

"I was actually down at Walt Disney World getting ready to shoot my portion of the 2010 Disney Parks Holiday Parade TV special when I got word that this was  going to happen. Which - I have to tell you - was a really terrific Christmas present," Debby laughed.

Which brings us to "Jessie," which premiered on the Disney Channel back on September 30, 2011 and quickly became the No. 1 TV series with kids 2 - 11 and 6 - 11. Which is all the more remarkable given how quickly this particular TV show actually came together.

"It's so strange to think that - inside of six months - we went from 'Let's do another show together' to sets being built and the cast being hired. We started shooting our first episode of 'Jessie' in June. And Disney must have liked what they saw, because they quickly bumped our first season order from 13 episodes to 20," Ryan said.

Debby Ryan as "Jessie." Photo by Ron Tom.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Of course, what's kind of ironic about this whole situation is that it wasn't all that long ago that Debby was that little girl in the mirror, pretending to do a Disney Channel wand ID. And now here this 18 year-old is, surrounded by a cast of very young performers who would obviously love to follow in Ms. Ryan's footsteps. Climb the ladder at the Disney Channel and go from having a supporting role to someday maybe starring in their own show for this cable network. So what sort of career advice has Debby given her "Jessie" cast mates?

"I just tell them that you have so many opportunities when you work for The Walt Disney Company. You can do things like record songs for the next Disneymania album or take part in Disney's Friends for Change Games or make promotional appearances at the Parks," Ryan said. "But the only way that you get to do any of that other cool stuff is by first proving that you're a pro at your real job. So when you come to work, you have to always be on time. You have to always know all of your lines and blocking. You can have fun, but you also have to be respectful of the other members of the cast and the crew."

Believe it or not, it's that "Have Fun" part that Debby thinks is the most important thing when it comes to maintaining a happy set.

(L to R) Peyton List, Debby Ryan, Cameron Boyce, Karan Brar and Skai Jackson. Photo
by Eric McCandless. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

"You work a lot of very long days when you're doing a show like 'Jessie.' Sometimes you'll spend 13 hours on set together. Which is why I think that it's important to balance all of this hard work with play. Let the kids blow off some steam sometime by being silly with them on the set," Ryan continued. "That way ... Well, we work hard but we play hard too. We allow the kids in our cast to be goofy when they need to be. We remember that they're people first and performers second."

This probably isn't the way that you might expect an 18 year-old girl to sound. But given all of the years that she's been performing at this point, Debby has been on more than her share of shoots. Which is why Ms. Ryan now deliberately goes out of her way to make the "Jessie" set a pleasant work environment.

"There have been times when I've been a guest performer on other shows where the cast & crew hasn't  been all that welcoming. And it just makes the job harder, the days longer," Debby said. "Which is why - whenever we have guest stars here on 'Jessie' - I always go out of my way to greet them. Let these performers know how much we appreciate them coming out & being part of our show."

Debby Ryan and recent "Jessie" guest star, Jo Anne Worley of
"Laugh-In" fame. Photo by Adam Taylor. Copyright Disney
Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And speaking of guest starring, Debbie will be putting in a cameo appearance on the January 16th episode of "So Random." Where she and Cole & Dylan Sprouse will be coming together for sort of a "Suite Life on Deck" reunion in a sketch that spotlights the Sprouse's fictionous brother Skippy.

And speaking of new episodes ... As part of the Disney Channel's month-long JaNEWuary promotion, there'll be a trio of new "Jessie" episodes bowing this month. With the first - "Star Wars" - premiering this Friday night at 9 - 9:30 p.m. ET/PT. While the other two new episodes - "Are You Cooler Than a Fifth Grader?" and "Take the A-Train ... I Think?" - will air on January 20th & 27th respectively.

So after you watch the one-hour series finale of Disney's "The Wizards of Waverly Place" (which will run this Friday night from 8 - 9 p.m.), why not hang in there to watch another Disney Channel star who - not all that long ago - spent hours in front of a mirror, perfecting her wand technique -- Debby Ryan in "Jessie" ?

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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  • i love   cameron boyce  is very  looking     i like   to   know    but    i  dont    spikking  very well    inglesh

  • wow i absaultly love debbie ryan especially in jessie

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  • I love Denny Ryan she awesome

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