You know Parker Young as the studly and athletic – but often clueless – character Ryan Shay on ABC’s hit show Suburgatory. And it appears life imitates art (not the clueless part) – Parker is getting ready to compete in the upcoming Nautica Malibu Triathlon, a challenging race of swimming, biking and running that benefits the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Pediatric Cancer Research Program. Good news girls – he’ll probably be shirtless for most of it.
In an exclusive interview with Celebrity Teen Scoop, Parker talked about his participation in the triathlon, what’s coming up in the new season of Suburgatory and how you don’t need a triathlon to sprint for your dreams.
Celebrity Teen Scoop: We see that you are participating in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon – Tell us about the event. How long have you been a triathlete?
Parker: Last year on my birthday (August 16th) I did a scene for Suburgatory, in which I was shirtless and washing a car; it was pretty ridiculous, I know. Anyways, our sound mixer Kevin Compayre (who competed in the Ironman) saw me and thought I looked fit and asked if I had ever done a triathlon. I told him I had not, so he recommended I compete in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. The next month I was competing in my first triathlon as part of the “Suburgatory Relay.” I guess, technically, I’ve been a triathlete for less than a year.
CTS: How do you usually prepare for a triathlon? Do you follow a special diet beforehand?
Parker: I have only competed in two triathlons and do them more for fun, to push myself than anything else. As competitive as I am and as much as I love winning I try not to take these races TOO seriously. Triathlons are a mental game, so in order to prepare I make sure that my mind is ready and knows that my body can handle the stress that I am about to push it through. When I did my first individual triathlon I had never even rode the bike prior to that morning but I still placed 5th in my age group. As for my diet, it doesn’t change much. I eat pretty healthy year-round rather than alter my diet just before the race.
CTS: What’s your favorite/least favorite leg of the triathlon – bike, swim or run?
Parker: Swimming is probably my least favorite. Everyone knows how to run and ride a bike, but the swimming you really have to train for. Not to mention, running into a freezing-cold ocean at 7:00AM with people kicking you and elbowing you in the face is hard to get motivated to do. The bike is probably my favorite. For me, it is the most fun and also a time to catch your breath before the final run.
CTS: How are you different/similar to your Ryan Shay character on Suburgatory?
Parker: This is a difficult question to answer. Ryan Shay—for me—is a real person with both good and bad qualities like anybody else. He is a fun loving, kind hearted, and for the most part carefree; he is a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy. He is also an athlete and an older brother. Ryan’s less admirable qualities are that he is a bit naïve and closed minded as a result of growing up in such a protected and sheltered family and town. While Ryan and I share similarities, I like to believe that because I have “lived” more than he has I have a more open mind and I respond more rationally to most situations.
CTS: What’s coming up in the next season for your character?
Parker: I think Ryan is going to have a crazy year. I am not filled in on everything that the writers have in mind for my character, but [show creator] Emily Kapnek is such a genius, I’m excited to see what she has up her sleeve. I’m sure that at some point Ryan will realize he is adopted. There is also no way that he is going to give up on his pursuit of convincing Tessa that he is, in fact, a great guy for her.
CTS: What other TV/Film projects are you working on?
Parker: Right now Suburgatory is keeping me busy pretty much full time.
CTS: What’s your most important piece of advice for young people hoping to achieve their dreams, whether it’s in acting or any other endeavors?
Parker: Don’t give up. If it is truly your dream, then there is nothing else worth chasing. However, you must know that it won’t be easy, so you need to get used to the discomfort of failure. Also, never stop learning and growing, and you should constantly do whatever you can to better yourself both in your craft and as a person; they go hand in hand. You can always be better, so when you start getting too comfortable you should do something that scares you or pushes your limits. Chase your dream, but don’t forget to love and enjoy your journey on the way there.