Courage of Harley-Davidson founders born from difficult times, series star says


Stephen Ryder plays the first African American to own a Harley-Davidson dealership in the new Discovery Channel miniseries “Harley and The Davidsons.”

“It’s an American story,” Ryder told FOX411. “I think it speaks, to and I think the three founders speak to, what America is supposed to be, what we strive to be. And how you can go from being nothing to becoming somebody with hard work and determination and having a purpose.”

Gabe Luna plays motorcycle racer Eddie Hasha.

“You learn about the humble beginnings of the family— Walter and Arthur Davidson, the Davidson brothers and of course the head engineer William Harley —and it starts in 1901, right in the beginning,” he said.

Series actress Jessica Camacho praised the innovation that made Harley-Davidson the biggest motorcycle company in the world.

“It was so cool to go back and learn about that history and go back in time decade by decade, step by step,” she said. “Doing all the tests... the desire to push the limits and then what set them apart when all other motorcycle companies were closing during the Depression. How they were able to stay in the game and stay true to their values and what made them so special.”

Actress Annie Read said the miniseries shows the struggles between family and business.

“There is the personal struggle, the struggle with the business…they did a good job balancing those two things,” she said. “It’s a really beautiful story and I think they did a great job of really showing the journey of how they started to build.”

Ryder said Harley-Davidson was in some ways a product of its time.

“I think back then people were way more mature than we are now because they didn't have pop culture and also the times create those people,” he said. “I don't think I was as courageous as William B. Johnson because I never had to face the things that he faced.”

“Harley and The Davidsons” premieres September 5th on Discovery in three two-hour installments.  

You can follow Blanche Johnson on Twitter @blancheFOXLA.