Whether it’s his stellar performance in “Mary Kills Wiseley” or his animalistic physic in “beauty and the beast”, Jay Ryan has certainly been the fan favourite from the start of his career. His portrayal of Ben Hanscom, the smart guy of losers club in the movie “IT Chapter Two” is nothing but luring to the eyes. We as fans couldn’t believe how ripped Ben turned out to be in his adulthood.
The heartthrob from New Zealand has appeared in small roles in movies, but his top-notch charisma is always the talking point in the tv series. Although he shares a public personality, it’s his personal life that makes the fan agog about him.
Like many celebrities, Jay keeps it low key when it comes to his personal life. What we know is he is in a long-term relationship with a New Zealand playwright – Dianna Fuemana. In 2013, the couple declared that they were having a baby and later named their daughter, Eve Bunyan. But other than that, it’s all been mystery.
But not anymore! Here we break down everything we know about Dianna. And we guarantee that some may even surprise you.
Dianna Fuemana’s Roots come from American Samoa
Although Dianna was born and raised in New Zealand, her parents have a proud heritage coming from a family of American Samoa Clan. She also embraces her culture through her choice of ornaments and dresses that represents her roots.
There are sources claiming that she is a Canadian immigrant but clearly she’s not. In a radio talk show talking about her play, “Falemalama,” she revealed how the play is a homage to her mother Falemalama Fuemana who came to New Zealand in the 60s from American Samoa, via Niue and the United States.
“My father, brothers, and sisters had already moved to New Zealand from new ways so she was estranged at that time living in American Samoa. So it was kind of long make-up and break up where my dad asked her to come back to the family in New Zealand. So that’s how she ended up coming back to New Zealand,” Dianna noted.
The playwright turned director has 6 siblings together as mentioned in the interview. According to her facebook profile, she completed her Master of Creativity and Arts in 2005 from the University of Auckland. Before that she went to Henderson High School in Auckland. She also took a short course in performing arts Cath Cardiff and Jay Laga’aia. Reports claim that her love for plays grew when she started acting in the church plays.
Dianna Wrote her First Play “Mapaki” in 1999
Dianna made her presence known in a male-dominated New Zealand Pacific theater spectrum through her breakthrough play “Mapaki” which was written and shop in 1999. This play revolves around Niuean woman who is a victim of domestic violence and fantasy. This is the story of an emotional Fisi who undertakes various challenges on her journey to overturn the abusive situation.
It was first presented in New Zealand then subsequently rallied to USA and Athens, Greece. The play was nominated at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for the category of Outstanding New Writer and best upcoming actress of the Year. After nearly a decade of Mapaki’s introduction, it was published with a reprised version in Herald Theater stating that the issue it deals with still holds true till this date.
Fuemana dedicated Auckland season of Mapaki to her dad who unfortunately passed away in 2000. The opening song of Mapaki was also written by her father.
“He is a card. He was so inspirational. He never understood what I wanted to do, but he saw when I was happy and wanted me to do that. He supported my studying and acting and he also wrote the song I open the show with. He loved it and cried. That made me really thrilled.
“Thanks, Dad – I could not have done it without you,” she said.
Dianna’s Plays have been Staged in Various Countries
Dianna is quite a craftsman when it comes to art. Progressively, she banged the hometown stage and international stage with plays like Jingle Bells (2001), The Packer (2003), My Mother Dreaming (2005), Falemalama (2009) and Birds(2012). Some of these were staged within the country, New Zealand. While some were orchestrated in the countries like Australia, Greece, United States, Hawaii, Canada, Niue, America Samoa and the UK.
Her Plays were well Received by Critics as well as Audience
Regarded as one of the up and coming playwrights by New Zealand media outlets, Dianna is often recipient to praises.In 2009 ‘The Packers’ and ‘Falemalama’ was published in New Zealand’s play series. Packers which she wrote and directed in 2003 during her pursue of Masters in Theater Degree was well received by the critics.
‘Fuemana’s writing is fresh and well observed, flowing easily in and out of scenes and jump-cutting seamlessly from one character’s perspective to another. A tightly conceived coming of age comedy,’ said the correspondent of Melbourne Times, 2003.
Fuemana’s one night out in Auckland is wonderfully written – is there a more archetypal line in contemporary New Zealand theatre than Brad’s “Bro man, it’s the bro’s bro”?
Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney 2008
She made her Directorial Debut from “Sunday Fun Day”
Before marching into directorial path, Dianna had already shown her caliber in the writing department as well as play craftsmanship.
But this time she wanted to push her boundaries with a short movie “Sunday Fun day.” She wrote the movie herself which is quite obvious and she directed it as well. Her partner, Jay Ryan was the director of this movie. It’s a story looked from two sets of eyes, a transgender teenager wanting to set free and a solo mother who tries to grapple the system she doesn’t fit in. The movie first premiered in New Zealand International Film Festival.
Later in 2019, she collaborated with 8 more female Pacific filmmakers to create a monument movie “Vai.” The film was shot on seven different pacific islands and it encompasses the journey of Vai, a woman empowered by the diverse culture.
Fuemana and Ryan have Worked Together
Oh! the sweetness overload. Who doesn’t love to see the lovebird act together in reel life? This is certainly what happened to this duo. Ryan and Fuemana have worked together in The Packer. Here is a sneak preview of the show.
The couple first met in Auckland at a theatre company. The relationship didn’t hit it off from the get go. He also took Dianna to Australia’s ‘Logie Awards’ in 2003. He referred to he as her best friend at that time. And, soon the best friend turned into lovers! Probably that’s why their relationship has sustain hardships even after decades of relationship.
Jay Thought he was too Young to be a Dad!
Raise your hand if you thought Jay would be a wonderful dad. However, the beauty and beast star had different opinions than ours.
While talking to Australia’s TV-Week, Ryan admitted that he was a father to a beautiful daughter Eve.
“We’ve kept everything pretty quiet until now, but it’s changed my life and really put a lot of things in perspective.”
Further he went on to say, “I never expected to be a dad at my age and she was a little bundle of surprise for me and my partner, but it makes me realize how important family really is.”
Eve was born just two days before the first season completion of beauty and the beast. So practically she is a Canadian-Newzealand gal! But her father insists that she is a kiwi down to her core.
Eve isn’t Dianna’s only Child
Well we all know by now that the little eve is Jay Ryan and Dianna Fuemana’s daughter. But little we knew that Dianna has two kids from her previous relationship. According to various sources, she has a son Solomon and daughter Reid. But their whereabouts are still unknown as they don’t live with Dianna.
The rumor was also validated by The Coconet TV that confirmed that Dianna used to be a single parent on the DPB watching soap operas. She was 16 when she got married to relatively unknown guy. She had Solomon right away. And four years later she had Reid.
She Struggled Between Two Kids and her Career
We have already established that Dianna loved plays from an early age. In 2000, when talking to New Zealand Herald she spilled few beans. According to her she was an avid soap opera lover.
“The soap opera became my life,” she said.
But when she was just 14 she totally stopped watching it.
She fell in love at the age of 16 and was already married. In a span of five years she already had two kids. Imagine having two kids when you are just entering into the world of adulthood. But this didn’t stop her from pursuing her passion. Right after she graduated from high school she went Carrington Polytechnic to learn about Television and Film production. She revealed how stressful that period was for her having to juggle between her kids and career.
“It was hard going with my son in the creche,” she said. “The furthest I went with my friends was to the front gate while they went to the next party.”
When she moved to University of Auckland to pursue her Diploma, it was hell for her.
“You would hear unattached people moaning about physical class in the morning, but I did my own warming-up at 6.30.”
Her Plays have Won Various Awards
Dianna is without a shadow of a doubt an accomplished Playwright. She has been a part of various competition and have won a bunch of them. In 2010, she beat five other Kiwi playwrights to win $2000 at New Zealand international art festival.
Dianna’s skills, experience, and contribution provided her with an opportunity to work as an art adviser for Auckland City Council (2003-2006), Also, she worked as a guest writer at the Tahiti writers festival (2005) and has sat on the Auckland Readers and Writers festival panels. In her career as a writer, she has won the Pacific Innovation and Excellence Award (2008) Creative New Zealand, Pasifika Arts Award.
Dianna has Worked with Hollywood Directors
Dianna completed her three months internship from Killer Films NYC in 2012 (US Screenwriting Scholarship) with the support of the Film Investment Corporation Foundation and the New Zealand Film Commission. Killer Films have been often labelled as one of the most creative platform for writers that have provided Oscar hits like Boys Don’t Cry and Still Alice.
Over this period, she made quite a good bond with talented directors and even shared room with many Hollywood directors and scriptwriters.
Although we don’t know the exact timeline of Jay and Dianna’s relationship, they seem to be going pretty strong. They are often seen together in events and festivals having a good time. As always there are few trolls and nasty comments about Dianna’s looks but it doesn’t seem to bother the two love birds. Jay is totally committed to her beautiful girlfriend and we can’t be more happier than that.
Dianna And Jay are still going strong
After being together for almost two decades, the bond Dianna and Jay share has grown even stronger. Even though both of them are very busy with their work, they always put their family first. They still travel together and celebrate holidays and other occasions with their extended family. They are setting a right example for their daughter Eve, who will grow up in a house where her parents love and support each other through thick and thin.