Ryan Seacrest Through the Years: America’s Busiest Man in Hollywood
American Idol and Ryan Seacrest return for another season under the ABC network
This spring, audiences across the country anxiously tuned in once more to watch ABC Network revamp America’s longest-running singing competition, American Idol, with a new season. The show that famously launches aspiring singers into super stardom embraced an entirely new look for season 16 with a star-studded cast of judges, featuring Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. While the the various flavors of legendary soul, pop-princess spunk, and country charm offer audiences a fresh experience from the previous Idol, one aspect of the show remains the same. As the premier of season 16 began, viewers around the country were welcomed with the big smile and familiar face of of long-time American Idol host, Ryan Seacrest.
When FOX decided to cancel American Idol in the spring of 2016, Seacrest had no choice but to close the chapter on his 15-year run that launched his career in the entertainment industry. As Idol’s host, he had the honor of announcing each winner and crowning some of America’s greatest artists including Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, and Carrie Underwood. In the wake of FOX’s cancellation, Seacrest went on a soul search to figure out his next steps, when he was given a big opportunity from his friend Kelly Ripa to be a co-host on her daily talk show, Live, on ABC. Upon accepting the offer to be Kelly’s first permanent co-host, the show was retitled Live with Kelly and Ryan.
Right after accepting the exciting new offer that would relocate him to New York City, ABC Network, which won the multi-network bidding war over Idol, offered Seacrest a huge contract to return as the shows’ host for the 16th season reboot. Following a series of discussions and contract negotiations, there was a dilemma of how Seacrest could even work for both shows at the same time since Live with Kelly and Ryan would be filmed in NYC and Idol shoots in Los Angeles.
Seacrest proved that he could make it work by flying to L.A. during the weekends to film Idol and then taking the red eye Sunday nights to NYC in time to shoot Live Monday mornings. After further negotiations, Seacrest accepted the offer along with the caveat that he would have some influence in the creative direction of the show.
This is not the first time Seacrest has opted into working multiple jobs at once. Dubbed “the hardest-working man in Hollywood” for his rigorous work ethic, Seacrest is known as the ultimate multitasker juggling 10 different jobs at a time. From his array of radio shows and E! red carpet emcee gigs, to his endorsement deals and production company, Seacrest has grown into a multi-million dollar public-icon with a career spanning several industries.
Ryan Seacrest Launches New Distinction Menswear Line
One of his most recent endeavors to expand his career portfolio is his leap into the fashion business in 2014, when he launched his own clothing line. The leading menswear lifestyle brand, Distinction, offers classic and iconic tailor-made looks for the everyday man. The brand prides itself in “delivering premium fabrics, design, detailing and value to men’s tailored clothing and accessories.” It’s no surprise that Seacrest made the inevitable step into the fashion industry as many celebrities do. As a host on red carpets with E! at the Golden Globes, Grammys, and the Oscars, Seacrest interviews A-list actors, musicians, and celebrities to discuss their designer choices and the trends of the night.
When Seacrest started his television career with Idol and quickly became a household name, he embraced the public-facing role and began updating his wardrobe, making his way through the designer clothing circuit. He liked the look and feel of small tailoring and developed a formal relationship with Christopher Bailey, the president and former chief creative officer of Burberry, who outfitted Seacrest for season 9 of Idol along with his many red-carpet appearances.
In an interview with Business of Fashion, Seacrest mentioned that Bailey’s tailored suits gave him the comfort he needed to host live shows. Through the development of his relationship with Bailey and Burberry, Seacrest had a growing desire to make the same style and quality of clothing available to the common man who is always on the move just like him.
“I wanted to [create] something that provided that same sort of feeling to people when they would put it on,” Seacrest said in the interview with Business of Fashion. “Something that was accessible in its price point, that really was made of great quality, for the guy who had an eye for detail.”
With the support and mentorship of Bailey, Seacrest debuted his menswear clothing line with an exclusive retail partnership with Macy’s, where the tailored clothing is available nationwide. The debut was one of the most successful menswear launches at Macy’s in the last ten years. Last fall, the line expanded its offering to include sportswear and outerwear. Seacrest’s lifestyle brand has received great reviews and is estimated to bring in a high of $50 million in sales by the end of 2018.
In addition to his move into fashion, Seacrest navigated into another new territory last summer when he launched Polished, a skincare line for men. Seacrest partnered with Dr. Lancer, a well-known Beverly Hills dermatologist that works with VIP clients such as Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Victoria Beckham. Dr. Lancer and Seacrest share a decade-long friendship as doctor and patient and worked together to launch the line of science-driven skincare products designed specifically to address the grooming needs of men.
Seacrest stumbled on the idea when he noticed that there were a lot of skincare products curtailed for women, but not very many products specifically made for men’s skin. Noticing the gap in the market, and experiencing great results under Dr. Lancer’s expert care, it only made sense to partner together to create and market an effective and unique skin care product line for men.
Ryan Seacrest’s Early Years
Seacrest’s impressive resume came out of an early interest in radio and a strong dedication to reaching his goals. Raised in a middle-class family, Seacrest learned the value of hard work from his loving parents, Gary and Connie Seacrest. His mother, Connie, was a stay-at-home mother who managed the responsibilities at home while his father, Gary, was a highly successful lawyer. He grew up in the small suburb of Dunwoody, Georgia where he spent the majority of his formative years.
As a young child who was overweight, wore large glasses, and was often teased, Seacrest preferred to keep to himself and stay inside the house listening to the radio for hours. With a fascination with radio and a big imagination, he listened to the radio announcers talk about everything under the sun and pretended he was one of them – introducing celebrities, sharing funny stories, and playing good music.
At the age of 10, Seacrest saved up enough lawn-mowing money to buy his first headset and audio mixer at Radio Shack, that he used to record popular song tracks and impersonate his disc jockey idols, Casey Kasem and Ricky Dees. He distributed the cassette tapes to his parents to listen to in the car on the way to and from work everyday and even gave tapes to his school bus driver, who played them on the bus on the way to school.
In his teenage years, Seacrest attended Dunwoody High School where he was a popular kid and a starting lineman on the high school football team. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Seacrest admitted that in an effort to impress his dates, he learned to cook grouper parmadine with a tableside caesar salad, that was a hit. Although he was popular among his peers and enjoyed the typical high school activities, he continued to immerse himself in radio in an effort to learn as much as he could about the industry.
Seacrest’s first broadcasting gig was handling announcements at school as The Voice of Dunwoody. He took many creative liberties and delivered the morning headlines, weather and even imitated the assistant principal as he led his classmates in the pledge of allegiance.
Ryan Seacrest’s Radio Career Takes Off
At age 16, he landed a prestigious internship at WSTR-FM, a Top 40 Atlanta Radio Station owned by Entercom. As the youngest employee at the station, Seacrest worked hard and hustled to fulfill all of his duties. He eventually received his big radio break when the regular weekend DJ called in sick and asked Seacrest to cover for him during his shift. During Seacrest’s radio debut, the station owner listened in to the performance and noticed his potential, so he decided to take him under his wing to mentor the teenager and develop him into a polished disc jockey. Seacrest was quickly thereafter promoted to the weekend overnight shift at the station where he hosted the evening program and coordinated the song lineups.
The Atlanta native continued working at WSTR-FM while he attended the University of Georgia, where he studied journalism. Even though Seacrest was studying what he was passionate about and working the weekend radio gig, he started feeling restless and knew he needed to make his way to Los Angeles if he really wanted to make it as a radio personality. After making up his mind, he confidently left school, packed up his things, and moved to the City of Angels to pursue his dreams of entering the entertainment business.
His start in L.A. was a humble beginning. Ryan enrolled at Santa Monica College and immediately experienced hardship in landing broadcast radio jobs in the incredibly competitive landscape. In 1993, he secured his first television host role on the children’s show, Radical Outdoor Challenge, that aired on ESPN. The show featured three children who went through a series of extreme outdoor challenges. Afterwards, Seacrest worked a series of other children’s show including Gladiators 2000 (1994), Fox Family Channel’s Wild Animal Games (1995), and Click (1997).
A constant pattern in Seacrest’s early life – that still rings true today – is that he was a hard worker and never stopped looking for opportunities to perfect his craft, often working multiple jobs at the same time. While he hosted various kid’s television shows, Seacrest also worked an overnight shift as DJ at the alternative music station, KYSR. From there, he moved up in the ranks to host the popular afternoon drive-time show, “Ryan Seacrest for The Ride Home” that later became the #1 daily afternoon talk show in Los Angeles.
Ryan Seacrest Makes His Big TV Break with Idol
In 2002, Seacrest was offered the chance of a lifetime to host a singing competition television show that was based off the British series, Pop Idol. The prominent British producer, Simon Cowell, brought American Idol to the states after his show became a hit in his home country. Seacrest was actually initially considered for a seat at the judge’s table, but Cowell thought he would be best suited as host of the show with Brian Dunkleman. Seacrest later became the sole host of the show.
In its first season, the show became a hit around the nation as pop-sensation Kelly Clarkson clenched the crown as the first winner of American Idol. Ryan Seacrest quickly rose to fame as a major television personality. For eight consecutive years from 2003-2010, Idol ranked number one in U.S. television ratings and experienced an all-time high of 37 million viewers during season 7. Billboard magazine claimed that in its first ten seasons, “Idol spawned 345 Billboard chart-toppers and a platoon of pop idols.”
After his launch into celebrity status from his success on Idol, Seacrest made his way through the TV entertainment circuit and went on to host for entertainment news, E! News. Seacrest also struck up a deal to work all the red carpets and other various events for the entertainment news show. Along with his extended contract for Idol with NBC Universal, Seacrest also helped cover the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in addition to hosting The Million Second Quiz, a trivia game show on NBC.
In 2005, Seacrest achieved his lifelong dream of hosting “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” with Dick Clark. Clark was a role model of the young television entertainer and inspired Seacrest to make business decisions by looking beyond the ever-changing landscape of radio and television entertainment. He emphasized the importance of owning a stake in the business, which led Seacrest to investing in his ‘On-Air’ radio show and becoming part owner. Clark later passed away in 2012, leaving Seacrest as the sole host of the New Year’s Eve show.
Through learning all the aspects of television entertainment, Seacrest’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to establish Emmy-award winning production company, Ryan Seacrest Productions. Behind the scenes, he has created some of the most well-known reality TV shows including Keeping up With the Kardashians, along with all of its spin offs including Kourtney & Kim Take New York, as well as Bravo’s Shahs of Sunset, CMT’s I Love Kellie Pickler, and ABC’s emmy award-winning Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
With Seacrest’s extensive experience in front of the camera as well producing behind the camera, he has gained valuable exposure in almost all aspects of production. His entertainment production acumen extends to the business sector as well. In the summer of 2012, he launched an American cable and satellite television network, AXS-TV, featuring music programming and festivals, mixed martial arts promotions, and comedy performances. With a steady pulse on current trends and booming ventures, he has made successful investments in growing companies like Headspace, Pinterest, DigiTour Media, and Civic Entertainment Group.
The Ryan Seacrest Foundation
Whether he is interviewing celebrities as they enter the red carpet, crowning America’s next singing sensation, producing a new reality television show or hosting a radio show during the morning commute, Seacrest is without a doubt one of the hardest-working individuals in Hollywood. His influence in radio, television, fashion, and beauty extends to even another industry, which might even be the most impactful. Despite his enormous success and fame, Seacrest dedicates his time and money to giving back in a way that is unique to his passion and helpful to so many in need.
After visiting children’s hospitals around the country and witnessing the anguish and pain young patients and their families experience, Seacrest wanted to find a way to lift the spirits of hospitalized children. Together with his family, he founded Ryan Seacrest Foundation (RSF), a non-profit organization centered on encouraging and inspiring youth through broadcast entertainment and education initiatives. RSF builds state-of-the-art radio/TV studios called Seacrest Studios in children’s hospitals, granting patients the opportunity to meet famous musicians, actors and other celebrities in the entertainment sector as well as interact with the different aspects of production in the studios.
The foundation’s focus is to contribute to the healing of hospitalized children by providing them with a creative outlet to explore radio, television and media in the high-tech media centers. In addition, the foundation offers college journalism students with opportunities to intern in the studios and learn all the different functions of broadcast media.
Seacrest’s entire family serves in the foundation. His father, Gary, is the president and CEO, his mother, Connie, serves as the vice president, community affairs, and hospital relations, and his sister, Meredith, works as the executive director and COO of the nonprofit organization, while Ryan resides as chairman and founder. With over 11 studios built in children’s hospitals around the country, the Seacrest’s aim to expand the nonprofit globally to affect change and be a source of relief and joy to patients all over the world.
It is no wonder how Ryan Seacrest earned his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Emmy-award winning producer makes an incredible impact everywhere he goes. Starting from a dream to become a famous radio DJ, Seacrest has reached his goals and more– to become one of the most successful entertainment personalities in the industry.