Ricky Garcia knows how to entertain.
The 18-year-old multihyphenate performer starred in the Disney Channel’s Best Friends Whenever, and is one-third of the pop-rock band Forever in Your Mind, who was discovered by Simon Cowell on X-Factor.
Garcia has nearly 900,000 followers on Instagram and Forever in Your Mind recently released a new single titled, “Smooth,” which has garnered 400,000 views on YouTube.
Still, the teen has to find time for himself.
“I’m going to the beach today,” he says proudly. “The beach is one of my favorite places. I like to stay active. I don’t like to sit in my place. That’s fun and relaxing, but I just try to stay active.”
He also prefers to stay in touch with fans, as he will do from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, August 5, at the Outlets at Anthem. While the meet and greet is open to the public, one winner will be chosen to be the shopping center’s social media reporter for the day. Entrants are asked to submit a 1-minute MP4 video or YouTube link showcasing their social media reporting skills along with a completed application to MeetRickyGarcia@OutletsAnthem.com. For an application, visit outletsanthem.com.
VIP passes are available as well via a contest held July 1 to August 1. Forty winners will be chosen for a private meet and greet with Garcia and 50 more winners will receive front-of-the-line passes. To win one of these VIP passes, fans must visit Outlets at Anthem between July 1 and Aug. 1 and take a selfie with one of the Ricky Garcia photo displays located throughout the center. Selfies are submitted via Instagram with the hashtag #MeetRickyAtAnthem. Winners will be chosen randomly from all properly submitted selfies.
“Meeting fans means the world to me,” Garcia says. “It’s amazing to know that I have people who support me no matter what I do. They’re following every step of my journey.
“It makes me really emotional, really. I hear about depression and bullying. I’m hoping that the little 2- or 3-minute pop song, listening to me and the guys, takes some of the pain away. I don’t want anyone to feel they’re not wanted. It’ a horrible feeling and that’s what’s happening in schools today. I was bullied. I understand. I’m always here for them.”
Now that Best Friends Whenever is no longer on the air, Garcia is chasing other pursuits, but focusing on Forever in Your Mind, who is in the studio working on new material. The band was signed to Hollywood Records, a subsidiary of Disney.
“In a sense, music is like acting,” he says. “I think you have to be trained. You can’t be afraid of experimenting and trying new things. It’s all about creating.”
The new singles “Missing” and “Smooth” are part of that evolution. Both songs head in a new direction for the group, marking a more “mature” sound, says Garcia, who recently starred in the movie Bigger Fatter Liar.
“The music is still in the genre of young pop—rootsy and vibey,” he says. “It’s like Justin Timberlake—older R&B sounding. Before we were a little more rock. We still have the rock, though. For the most part, fans have been reacting great to it. I’m really happy with it.”
He will continue to act, sing and entertain as long as he’s having fun.
“It’s rewarding in entertainment,” he says. “I know I’m doing what I love and I’m having a great time doing it.”
Ricky Garcia, Outlets at Anthem, 4250 W. Anthem Way, Phoenix, 623.465.9500, outletsanthem.com, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, August 5, free.