Recently I sat down with my friend Ryan Nickulas, whom you may remember from The A-List: New York. We had a chance to catch up on things, which included work and life in general. Since his A-List days, Ryan has been going full-speed, running Ryan Darius, his boutique-style West Village salon, while serving as a platform artist for both prestige and mass beauty brands (such as Oribe and Pantene). He also contributes to AOL.com, sharing his hair, beauty and grooming tips with his savvy followers. As if that were not enough, Ryan also can be spotted in Manhattan's gay social and philanthropic scenes, donating his time and charity to numerous LGBT organizations.
Ryan and his husband Desmond have started the process of selecting a surrogate. As a dad myself, you can't imagine how thrilled I was to hear that they have embarked on the path to parenthood. Any parent can attest that one's life completely changes with the birth of a child. Needless to say, I felt compelled to delve a little further and get Ryan's take on parenthood, amongst other things.
Martin Berusch: You are a hairstyling guru, of course, but many of us know you best as one of the cast members of The A-List: New York. Undoubtedly, there was quite a bit of drama on the show. After all, it was a reality TV docu-drama. I'm glad to see that, at least from the looks of it, you came out of it relatively unscathed. Are there any salient differences between you and the Ryan that we saw on The A-List?
Ryan Nickulas: No, not really, but I would say that the show limited what you saw of me. The show didn't feature me as a husband, as a business owner or as a person who gives back to our community.
Berusch: I've known you for a few years now and have noticed that you've switched up your appearance a bit. What might we attribute these changes to? I like the scruffy look, by the way.
Nickulas: Thank you! I needed a change. As a stylist, I encourage people to change their look every day, and it dawned on me that I had been blond for far too long. The beard was easy; I have been shaving since I was 14.
Berusch: Back when you were doing the show, you were talking about starting a family. You were thinking about maybe adopting, or surrogacy. Have there been any further thoughts about this?
Nickulas: Absolutely! Having a family has always been in the plans for Desmond and me. We decided to go the surrogacy route, and our journey has begun!
Berusch: What problems or obstacles have you encountered in the process of trying to become pregnant, if any?
Nickulas: We haven't encountered any obstacles so far. It was a long, slow start, considering all the options that were available to us.
Berusch: How do you think having children will change your life?
Nickulas: Children will change everything! Our lives will no longer be just about us. My mornings tend to be so quiet and slow-moving; I'm going to have my hands full, so we all know that's over! One big change on our horizon is that we are planning on moving. We would love more space for our growing family. But, you know, this is really about shifting priorities. I'm excited because I'm pretty sure that I won't be sweating the small stuff in my life. Desmond and I will be putting on hold our Friday-night dinner reservations, but we'll make sure we order enough diapers and baby food to get us through the weekend! I am so excited for this big change!
Berusch: How will you and your husband divide your parenting roles between the two of you?
Nickulas: I'm sure all hands will be on deck. Desmond and I juggle well together.
Berusch: Finding a balance in co-parenting is an art, and juggling responsibilities is one of the key ingredients to successfully raising a child. One of the questions encountered by many parents is how spirituality will play a part in the rearing of their child. Are you religious? If so, how will religion play a part in raising your child?
Nickulas: I'm not religious. I am more of a spiritual person who believes in God. I think we will cross that bridge when the time comes.
Berusch: Education is also a very important topic. Due to high demand on finite academic choices, New York in particular puts a lot of pressure on parents to map out their children's education and choose the right school. I remember stressing a lot about what kindergarten school I was going to put my own children in. I know this sounds premature, maybe even comical, but have you thought about this issue? What kind of education would you like your child to have -- liberal or more traditional -- and why?
Nickulas: The thought of this is hysterical! No, it has not crossed my mind, but a great education is so important.
Berusch: What differences or similarities do you see between hetero families and your own?
Nickulas: A family now comes in many shapes and sizes. A loving home is all that matters.
Berusch: How will you handle possible prejudices that your child might face as he or she grows up and is exposed to it by other children or adults?
Nickulas: We will handle it head-on! The world is not perfect. I am sure we will have many teachable moments.
Berusch: What has been your family's reaction to your desire to become parents?
Nickulas: Everyone is excited and waiting for us to hurry up, as we started this journey almost two years ago.
Berusch: Do you plan to have a big or small family?
Nickulas: Desmond wants a big family! I am open either way, but let's take it one at a time.
Berusch: Have you gone baby shopping already? In your opinion, what are some of the must-haves that every parent should buy?
Nickulas: I have not. I don't want to jinx anything. I truly don't have a clue on the must-haves, so I'll be doing a lot of research. Gucci baby shoes have been in my hand a few times.... [Winks.]
Berusch: Gucci baby shoes! Now we're on track! Do you want a boy or a girl, or both?
Nickulas: I couldn't care less about the gender! Happy and healthy with 10 fingers and 10 toes is all I could wish for. I would feel bad for Des if we have all girls. He wouldn't know what to do with himself!
Berusch: As children grow up, their personalities become increasingly defined. If you could look into the future, how would you handle those difficult teenage years?
Nickulas: I will get up every day and give it my all. I'm sure I will make mistakes; all parents do. I think I handled the boys on The A-List very well, and at times some of them acted like difficult teenagers themselves.
Berusch: How would you react if your child told you they were also gay?
Nickulas: Our kids can be butchers, bakers or candlestick makers. As long as they are happy, that's all that matters to me.
Berusch: Given your own life experience with respect to your parents, what would you do differently from how you were raised?
Nickulas: Hindsight is 20/20. It's easy to sit back and judge from my side of the street. I do know this: My parents did the best possible job they could with the tools they had, and I hope to do the same.