Former actor casts self in new role: law student
Standing in the wings of the stage dressed as Prince Charming, Ryan Boda listened for his cue: the Disney cruise director announcing to the audience it had a special guest.
Walking onto the stage, Boda stopped in his tracks as he was greeted with a curtsy from his waltzing partner. The little girl, who stood just at his waist, was dressed gown and all as Cinderella, with the exception of a blue stocking cap on her head. Make-A-Wish Foundation granted the girl with terminal cancer her wish, and Boda was a part of it.
“Her dream was to dance the waltz with Prince Charming,” the 2L recalled. “Even though I was the most visible part of her wish, (Make-A-Wish Foundation) did all the heavy lifting. My part, in the scheme of things, was pretty small.”
It was in that moment, Boda said, he had a wish of his own.
“Night after night it’s awesome to stand up and have people applaud you,” Boda said, imitating the claps. “But I didn’t really get the sense that as an actor that I was helping anybody, that I was furthering society or helping the human race in a way.”
Now after a 16-year acting career, he’s using the law as an outlet to do so.
“Law, really, is a service position,” Boda said. “And often, people only need a lawyer when they are in the most dire circumstances of their lives.”
Boda, who is an Upper Arlington, Ohio native, moved back to Ohio last year to attend The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
He attended University of Michigan, where he majored in musical theater. After graduating in 2000, he moved to New York, where he worked for 11 years as a full-time actor.
Recalling getting his start with Hawaiian Punch commercials and promotional advertisements for the then-Sci-Fi Channel, Boda listed off a few of his favorite performances, such as Chicago, The Spitfire Grill, Guys and Dolls, and West Side Story, during which he met his wife.
In addition to wanting to settle down to start a family someday and get involved in public service, Boda said there were other reasons for wanting to leave acting.
“I found that when you monetize your passion, you can suck the life out of it a little bit,” Boda said. “I discovered that at a certain point I was making financial decisions instead of artistic decisions, such as doing an industrial commercial over a more artistic workshop of a new play.”
He added his father Daniel Boda ’75 being a lawyer also influenced his decision to go into the law – that and the correlations between acting and practicing law. Tracing lines between writing plays and writing opening and closing statements, acting and telling a story to a jury, and casting actors as a director and witnesses as a lawyer, Boda said his father instilled those comparisons in him.
“(My dad) has said that being a trial attorney is a lot like being a writer, producer, director, and actor all rolled into one,” Boda said. He said, however, “knowing how to sing and dance didn’t help me one bit during my first year of law school.”
Working at the Public Defender’s Office over the summer confirmed his decision to go into the law, though. “I felt really good about the service aspect of what I got to do as a clerk for the public defender,” Boda said.
He said since moving back to Columbus he’s somewhat rekindled his familiarity with the city’s theater scene, but it hasn’t persuaded him to jump back into acting as a career.
“I anticipate that I’ll do shows just for fun, but not as my profession anymore,” he said. “Since I don’t have to rely on performing to make money now, if I want to (and) hopefully when I have time, I’ll be able to do a few things for fun.”
Posted in: Fall 2012, Student Profile