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The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Ross Lynch reignites childhood crushes at Pitt Program Council’s final event of the Year

Ross+Lynch+laughs+while+speaking+in+the+William+Pitt+Union+Assembly+Room+on+Wednesday+night.
Hannah Levine | Staff Photographer
Ross Lynch laughs while speaking in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room on Wednesday night.

“Please refrain from asking Ross to take his shirt off,” Sophia Gill, sophomore political science major and the lecture director for the Pitt Program Council, announced to the sea of fans in the packed William Pitt Union Assembly Room on Tuesday night. Lynch’s presence on Pitt’s campus sparked a frenzied excitement. 

The Pitt Program Council hosted a 45-minute guided interview and a 15-minute audience Q&A with the actor and singer. The event was a full-circle moment for childhood and current fans to connect with Lynch, who many recognize from their childhoods. Gill jokingly warned the crowd to be respectful of his time before he strode into the Assembly Room, prompting giggles, cheers and cacophonous applause. 

“An Evening with Ross Lynch” was heavily anticipated and two semesters in the making. According to Gill, her committee had the idea at the beginning of the fall semester, and it came to fruition right at the end of this spring semester.

Lynch wears many hats. He’s an ex-Disney actor turned heartthrob and cultural phenomenon, widely known for playing Austin Moon in the hit series “Austin & Ally.” He is particularly known in some online spaces for performing shirtless on stage as one half of the musical duo “The Driver Era.” 

Gaining stardom as an actor in “Austin & Ally” and the Disney movie franchise “Teen Beach Movie,” Lynch began his career in entertainment early on. Since Disney, he’s ventured into the music industry with his siblings in their band “R5” and is now the frontman of the alt-rock duo “The Driver Era.”

Gill talked about the highly anticipated event and how it might allow people to get to know Ross in a setting outside of social media hype. 

“He’s definitely one of those people where you see videos of him on social media, and you [wonder what he’s like in real life],” Gill said. “The content you see of him on social media is very intense and glorified. And it’s kind of separate from him. Being able to see him in person [in a lecture] setting is so interesting and different.”

The event came at the perfect time, according to Megan Ackley, senior studio arts major and outgoing design director for the Pitt Program Council. Ackley said the timing of the event brought levity to students during the calm before the finals week storm.

“It’s a weird point in the semester, like, we’re all dreading finals,” Ackley said. “After this week, we’re not gonna feel as happy and excited again, so it’s a really nice, big culmination of a lot of feelings. I’m expecting a lot of joy and memorable moments tonight.”

Anna Wise, a first-year public health major and self-proclaimed die-hard fan, planned in advance, showing up hours early before tickets went on sale at 8 a.m. and lining up two hours early the day of the event, all in hopes of getting the best vantage point. 

“When the tickets went on sale, we got in line at 4:35 [a.m.],” Wise said. “Today, we got here at 6:30. We weren’t even close to the front in line, but we ran when we saw there were front [row] seats available. We’re intense.”

Wise gushed about seeing her celebrity crush from just a few feet away.

“If my younger self knew she was seeing Ross Lynch today, she would shit herself,” Wise said.

An audience member poses for the camera during the Ross Lynch speaking event in the William Pitt Union Assembly room on Wednesday night.

Others in the crowd waited in the stand-by line in hopes of snagging empty seats. A row was created in the back with extra chairs, much to the delight of the last three fans who were let in minutes before Ross came on stage.

Maggi Schuchholz, a first-year pre-PA student, bonded with other students over the stress of waiting to be let in and their love for Lynch. Like many in the crowd, they loved “Austin & Ally” and are huge fans of “The Driver Era.”

“I thought we were screwed when we forgot to buy tickets,” Schuchholz said. “I’ve never been this anxious in my life.” 

Lynch, who is currently touring along with his brother and bandmate Rocky Lynch, shared stories about crazy fans and trying to stay healthy on tour. He said bringing his loved ones on tour with him, including other members of the Lynch family Ryland and Riker, made the experience more enjoyable. 

Ross talked about “The Driver Era’s” sound and his songwriting process, stating that he gets closer to himself and his creativity every time he writes a new song. He said he’d like to collaborate with “Wallows,” another alternative indie band based in Los Angeles.

During the moderated interview portion of the evening, Lynch talked about his career in entertainment, beginning with dance classes as a child before moving to Hollywood in his preteens to star as Austin Moon. Lynch shared anecdotes about his early experiences performing for a big audience, from his first kiss at 11 years old to his first time getting stage fright and walking off the stage at a dance competition. 

Lynch spoke about his transition from playing preteen and teenage roles in Disney to playing more serious roles like Jeffrey Dahmer in Marc Meyers’ feature, “My Friend Dahmer.” He recognized that breaking out of the Disney mold is difficult, and talked about typecasting and the importance of accumulating various acting skills outside of prescribed preteen-friendly Disney roles. After Disney, he took on various roles, starring in big projects like Greg Berlanti’s Netflix series “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and most recently, a cameo in Troye Sivan’s viral “One of Your Girls” music video.

During the audience Q&A portion of the evening, Lynch talked about the importance of addressing child actor abuse following recent Nickelodeon revelations. He talked about his unconventional education as a result of being a child actor and how foregoing a traditional college experience affected him. Lynch also settled a sorority bet by throwing up the Theta Phi Alpha sign.

To close out the evening, Ross sang an acoustic rendition of “On My Own” from “Teen Beach 2” on his signature, bright red, Austin Moon-esque guitar. Lynch’s future endeavors include filmmaking, venturing into the world of fashion and a possible “Teen Beach Movie 3.”

About the Contributor
Amy Zhang, Staff Writer