Ryan Guzman attends STEP:UP REVOLUTION Takes Over Ocean Drive on July 4, 2012 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for STEP:UP Revolution)

From boy next door to lead role in “Step Up Revolution”

Ryan Guzman is a 24-year-old from Texas who went from mixed martial arts fighter and model, with no dance or acting experience, to playing the lead male role in “Step Up Revolution.”

Guzman always enjoyed watching the “Step Up” movies, and he says it felt surreal when he found out he was actually going to have his acting debut in the fourth film in the franchise, hitting theaters on July 27.

“I didn’t know what I did to deserve this,” says Guzman in his boy next door, humble way. “I’m so appreciative of all the people who have helped me out. Never would I think that it’s just me.”

He says he first heard about the new “Step Up” through one of his friends who was auditioning for a role in it. Guzman had just signed with his manager three months before to start dabbling in acting, and he had the strong urge to call him about playing a part in the movie.

“I sat on it on a day, and the next day I called and I asked him,” says Guzman, still appearing to be in amazement at the direction his destiny has taken. “He hooked it up and gave me the lead role.”

“Step Up Revolution,” like its predecessors, brings together a young man and woman who seem to have little in common, but their mutual love for dance brings them together and changes their lives. Ryan Guzman plays Sean Asa, the rebellious son of working-class Cuban immigrants who finds self-expression in street dance. Guzman shares the screen and a real-life friendship with Kathryn McCormick who plays Emily Anderson, an aspiring contemporary dancer torn between the privilege provided by her father’s wealth and her own artistic aspirations.

Guzman says although he had no training in dance and very little acting experience, he thinks his childhood played a major role in where he is today.

“I can’t thank my parents enough with the childhood I was blessed with,” says Guzman, whose father was born and raised in Mexico. “My childhood was full of love and always family oriented with a lot of sports…and dance was always a part of my life growing up in Latin family.”

As an avid Bruce Lee fan, he tried to learn taekwondo, but he says he was always afraid of fighting.

“I backed away from all fights,” says the tranquil Guzman who later excelled in mixed martial arts and ended up also helping him in his role, in addition to training for three weeks and nine hours a day. “It ties with dancing very well. You get to know what your legs, hips and arms can do.”

For now, Guzman says he is engulfing himself his new interest – acting.

“I’ve always believed that you have to do things you are passionate about,” he says. “Otherwise, it just becomes a job, and you can’t succeed and grow from it.”

Not being fond of seeing himself on magazines, he says modeling ended up becoming just a job to him. Now he sees himself on a movie screen and he’s focused on what he needs to do to be a better actor. He says he sees himself going into action movies – something darker and grittier.

He says his tips for success have been determination, humility, and the eagerness to learn as much as you possibly can.

“People get sucked in by the glitz and glamor,” says Guzman. “That’s not the way to go…If you stay focused, I guarantee you are going to make it.”

Guzman is excited for his career which has only just begun, and he says he doing it all without stunt doubles or dance doubles. Now that his voice is bigger because of the movie, he says he wants to do more for his Mexican community which he’s so proud of.

“I always heard I look white…[but] I want to help out my culture and progress,” says Guzman. “I definitely want to try to reach out and do as much as I possibly can.”

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