This is Steve Way and "Ramy"
By Jennifer Ersalesi
On April 19, Hulu premiered a new series, "Ramy". Former Rutherford resident and RHS graduate, Ramy Youssef, wrote the series that is loosely based on his upbringing as a 1st generation Egyptian-American in Rutherford. The series focuses on the character Ramy Hassan's (played by Ramy Youssef) struggle with living as a "typical" twenty year old in America while striving to uphold his Muslim cultural beliefs and practices.
When Ramy created the series he knew he wanted to include his close friend, Steve Way, as one of the characters. On the series, there is an episode that flashes back to 9/11 and shows how Ramy and Steve's characters became friends at age 12 during a time when they were both considered "outcasts" amongst their classmates. This is Rutherford spoke to Steve Way about his role on the series "Ramy" and his friendship with Ramy Youssef.
TIR: How long have you lived in Rutherford? What year did you graduate from Rutherford High School?
SW: I have lived in Rutherford for over 25 years. I am a 2009 RHS graduate.
TIR: How long have you known Ramy Youssef? Where did you meet?
SW: Ramy and I became friends in 2001 when I transferred from Lincoln to Pierrepont school in Rutherford, NJ.
TIR: Have you two worked on other projects together?
SW: We’ve been working on things since our freshman year in high school for our TV class. Ramy was in a sketch comedy group with Kyle Kolich and Jon Braylock and I would occasionally do videos with them, including a web series ("Uplifting Dystrophy").
TIR: When did you first realize that you were able to make people laugh?
SW: One day in the summer of 2010, Ramy was over and told me to write a stand up set. Two weeks later, I showed it to him and he told me I was going to perform it at the Williams Center.
TIR: Ramy has mentioned, in a number of interviews, how he knew that he wanted you to be part of the series. Tell us more about how you got involved in the series, "Ramy".
SW: Ramy was a big advocate for me to act on his show. It’s very common for performers with disabilities (I have Muscular Dystrophy) to not even be given the opportunity to showcase their talents but after showing my stand up and audition tapes, he was able to convince Hulu to take a chance on me.
TIR: What is the series all about?
SW: The series is about Ramy’s connection to his faith and the world around him. Ramy struggles between the beliefs he has been taught through his Muslim upbringing and the beliefs that many of the friends from his generation have about life and society. The situations Ramy must deal with might not all be the same but the emotions are.
TIR: What is your role on the series?
SW: My role is Ramy’s best friend who’s not afraid to call him out when I see fit. Basically, I’m playing myself (laughs).
TIR: Why do you think that people enjoy “Ramy” and the series has gotten such wonderful reviews?
SW: People enjoy the show because it is very relatable. You don’t have to be Muslim to understand and empathize with Ramy’s internal and external conflicts. I think the show is so successful because it’s so authentic. Ramy’s voice is so unique and he crafted his story in a way that anybody can relate.
TIR: What else are you up to these days?
SW: I do motivational speaking, telling people about my experiences and what brought me to where I am today. The rest is top-secret (smiles and laughs).