Ryan Devlin: This actor saves lives
by Georgia Van Cuylenburg
When most people say “there must be more to life than this!?” it usually comes with a cubicle and a 9-5 day job. You probably wouldn’t expect to hear it coming from the set of the TV show Brothers and Sisters or Veronica Mars or Grey’s Anatomy. For actor Ryan Devlin, however, it was something that he constantly asked himself while working on these shows.
It is clear from talking to Devlin that he is extremely grateful to be living the life that so many dream of – having starred in more TV shows than I can fit on my DVR! He is young, talented, has a great wife, two dogs and two cats – what more could a man want?
As Devlin says, “It’s very fun and creatively inspiring to be an actor – I love it – it just doesn’t really tick all the boxes. I just knew there was more out there. I don’t know if it was a search for purpose, or for impact or wanting to leave a mark.”
Having been heavily involved as a volunteer with a number of organizations including The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp as a counselor and studying non profit management at UCLA, he was highly aware of those in need outside of the Hollywood bubble and felt drawn to tick those remaining boxes by doing something about it.
Devlin and his wife, screenwriter Kara Holden, decided they needed a break from the Hollywood scene so they “got the hell out of Los Angeles” and moved to Westport, Connecticut, where he had the time and freedom to think about making a broader impact in the world. It was then that he had the idea for This Bar Saves Lives.
He and a friend, Todd Grinnell, who is also an actor, had been in Liberia when they saw first hand the need for emergency food aid. What started “as a bit of a lark” very quickly turned into something hugely meaningful and today has provided over 326,550 packets of life-saving food to children in developing countries.
Their unique idea was to create a granola bar that when purchased here in the U.S. would fund one packet of life-saving food to a child in need. One type of food aid, Plumpy’nut, is a revolutionary product that saves children from almost certain death. They wanted to empower people here to be involved in solving the issue of malnutrition in the developing world.
Ryan attended Michigan State University where he majored in business with a focus on food management. “When you’re majoring in this stuff (business and food management) and you decided to become an actor – I never thought it would come back and help me but it absolutely did.” The people that they now work with on the bar, from food scientists to chefs, are some of the best in the world and many of them came through his college contacts.
Furthermore, what initially started as his “way of keeping sane in what tends to be a very selfish and egocentric business” has blossomed into something that really will leave a mark on the world. “Launching and running This Bar Saves Lives is my way to give back and have an impact which is far different from what I do in my Hollywood career,” said Devlin. Though it is largely because of his Hollywood career that Devlin and two partners, Todd Grinnell and Ravi Patel, have been able to have such a profound impact in such a short amount of time.
What is so impressive about Ryan and his partners’ work is that they didn’t just find a way to feed the hungry — they created a platform which provides nutritional value to those most in need, as well as educating the global community about what can be done to help.
And with their slogan “We eat together” they really bring home the responsibility we have to help others and to see all people, no matter where they live, as a part of our lives.
Ryan Devlin is exactly what is exciting about the new breed of Hollywood philanthropists. As Ryan says, “there is never a bad reason for philanthropy” and all celebrities that give back have a different way of showing their support. Devlin has taken his influence as a TV star, combined it with a hugely meaningful idea and a ten hour work day, and is literally saving children’s lives every day. It is hugely encouraging that Devlin is not alone in this initiative. He shared that recently when making small talk around the craft service table on the set of his current show Jane the Virgin, he discovered that two of his fellow cast members own social impact companies.
In closing, Ryan mentioned “there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the impact that Hollywood can continue to have in a good way. It’s a beautiful thing and hopefully more and more people continue to do it.”
We couldn’t agree more with Ryan Devlin, which is why he’s our choice for November’s Hollywood Soul Angel.
Ryan, thank you for the incredible mark you are making on this world!
P.S. Please support the work that Ryan and the This Bar Saves Lives team is doing. You can find the granola bars at your local Whole Food Market or Sprouts. And having tried them ourselves, we suggest you buy all three flavors – they really are delicious!Tags: Actor, Georgia Van Cuylenburg, Hollywood, Kara Holden, Philanthropy, Ravi Patel, Ryan Devlin, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, this bar saves lives, Todd Grinnell, Using celebrity for the good