Our today’s personality is a wide known public persona, art and cultural creator, and co-star and judge of the “Big Proud Party Agency”, a new BBC three series hosting LGBTQ+ party planners.
London art scene heard about him for the first time over 10 years ago, in 2011, when he curated the first nail-art exhibition in the world, Nailphilia. The exhibition took place in Bethnal Green and hosted such artists as Sophy Robson, Marian Newman and Megumi Mizuno - all well known and recognised in their own field, but omitted on a ubiquitous scene.
Only 5 years later, he acted as a Fashion & Art curator at the V&A Museum for an exhibition ‘Conservation Couture: The Animal Ball’, which featured some of the best-known fashion brands such as Burberry, Chloe, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Mugler.
Also in 2016, Ryan created Hungama, East London’s Queer Bollywood Hip/Hop party, where he still holds a position of a charming host! Thanks to his activities, the event got recognised by the Ministry of Sound, British Vogue, The V&A, Soho House, Tate Modern, and the National Theatre. His parties have been recently mentioned by Vogue, i-D, Dazed, Noisey, Hunger, Time Out London, BBC, and The Guardian.
We are not the first ones to notice his impressive role as an activist for the LGBTQIA+ community. In the past, he has actively presented his views as an ambassador of brands, hosted talks and radio shows, organised and co-organised many exhibitions and events, and acted towards raising awareness of the South Asian LGBTQIA+ movements. In 2019, Another Man called him one of the top 10 Young Activists Calling for Change, Justice, and Acceptance in London and New York.
On top of his other impressive activities, he has a thing for beautiful, flowery smells and in 2020 won Netflix's unscripted reality series 'The Big Flower Fight’!
Name: Ryan Lanji
Solar Sign: Leo
Occupation: TV Personality and Cultural Producer
What does the word or concept of freedom mean to you? When do you feel most free?
Freedom means to not give a fuck and be your authentic self. I think I feel the most “free” when I can help pockets of communities develop creatively and where my ideas and beliefs have a space to grow and nurture without any preconceived biases. Freedom is something we have to fight for.
"Freedom is something we have to fight for."
Identity, confidence and self-expression are inherently interlinked. How have these words or their meaning shaped the person that you are today?
Growing up as a young Hindu- Punjabi- British- Canadian I have always had to approach my identity with utmost love and care for myself. At first it was really disorientating but now that I understand how to be all of these things at once I am full of confidence. Knowing who you are outside of what you are perceived as and choosing that voice intuitively has helped me carve my lane, my career and my legacy.
Your favourite place is...
I love London because it’s an experimental labratory. I always find myself drawn to epicenters of creativity ie. Paris, London, NY & LA.
Is there any specific poem, book, song or artwork that you come back to? (why and how does it make you feel?)
I find myself revisiting a lot of Warhol's earlier work due to its sheer simplicity but brave composition. I have been immensely inspired by his screen tests which i recreated with south asian queer activists in London. Oscar Wilde is my favorite thinker who has created unforgettable and the most quotable works of poetry.
"Smell is so powerful to me - I find myself traversing time and space when I smell something that is reminiscent."
photos by India Bharadwaj
Do you have a favourite smell?
I love the smell of Patchouli and am re-embracing incense as they were something I was culturally embarrassed about now am owning with every fiber of my being.
What do smells mean for you? Do you have any special sensorial memories? (a memory that comes up when you smell something, it could be a moment, a memory, a place, a person…)
Smell is so powerful to me - I find myself traversing time and space when I smell something that is reminiscent. Whether it be a scent I wore to feel mature or a candle that my chosen mom burns in her bedroom to an ice cappuccino from Tim Hortons (a Canadian fast food restaurant) taking me all the way back to being 15 in Vancouver B.C.
Ryan, you are very much community-driven. Through your hard work, you brought us visibility, representation and cultural relevance. You brought to East London a queer Bollywood night, a wellness program for queer people, and queer art exhibitions and you always champion POC and non-binary people. Looking back, what is your greatest achievement and what's next for Ryan Lanji?
My greatest achievement is creating an unapologetic community through my party that has grown in every field of art, culture and music. It fills me with emotion to think that when I'm gone my legacy will live on forever.. Also never thought I’d be a Netflix reality show winning florist (but hey ho!)
You can catch Ryan's latest venture at BBC Three, Big Proud Party Agency, alongside Teddy Edwardes, founder of the popular party run by queer women, for women, LICK, and luxury party planner Christopher Mills.