Since 2015, reality TV fans have gotten to know the staff of 9MAG on VH1’s Black Ink Crew: Chicago. Ryan Henry, the owner of the Chi-town tattoo shop, has put his life on display for all six seasons of the series. But throughout its run, his approval rating with viewers has been volatile.
Get the details of his life before the show, and find out what he’s currently up to.
What Is The Show ‘Black Ink Crew’ About?
The original VH1 series Black Ink Crew is a reality program that follows the day-to-day happenings at Black Ink, a black-owned tattoo shop in Harlem, New York. It premiered in 2013, and its popularity spawned two spinoff shows in Chicago and Compton.
Black Ink Crew: Chicago debuted in 2015. The Midwest sister show stars Ryan Henry, owner of 9MAG, a tattoo shop in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. He and his staff entertain TV audiences with a mix of great ink and a healthy dose of drama. (Celebrity clientele also keeps viewers glued to the screen, but more on that later.) For a sample of what goes down in the everyday lives of these colorful Chicagoans, check out this montage of most-watched clips from the show:
Ryan Henry Brings The Drama ‘Black Ink Crew: Chicago’
Ryan Henry, 33, has been tattooing for over a decade. The Chicago artist specializes in traditional Japanese art and creative freehand designs. His tattoo shop, 9MAG, is the subject of Black Ink Crew: Chicago—but Henry has previously confessed that the show almost didn’t happen.
“When I first received the offer it was a no,” Henry told The Source in 2019. “I didn’t want to be all on TV.”
But it seems his pride for his hometown made him reconsider. “My thing ain’t about acting the fool in public,” he continued. “I didn’t do TV to say, ‘Hey, let me be on TV!’ I did it to show a different part of what you knew about my city, and to give a lot of stuff that’s relatable.”
The show has a large supporting cast of 9MAG staffers that has evolved over the years. While the employees’ hijinx are enough to satisfy viewers, the shop’s occasional celebrity clientele also keeps ratings up. Take an appearance by Nicki Minaj in 2018—the episode attracted two million viewers.
Henry sells himself as an ambitious business owner and devoted dad, but he’s also got some skeletons in the closet. In October 2017, it was revealed that he had slept with Nina Marie, the ex-partner and baby mama of his best friend Anthony Lindsey. Making matters worse, Henry is also the godfather of their son.
“I hurt people that I care about badly,” Henry said in a public apology posted to Instagram Live. “I disrespected myself and my family.”
“I’ve apologized to Anthony. We talked,” he addedd. “We talked a lot after this happened. Ya’ll just got it a little bit later.”
Even before this scandal, viewers had mixed feeling about Henry. As a businessman, he was disliked for his ruthless reputation. In the 2019 Season 5 finale, he announces that he is closing his current shop and fires three staff members without warning. In fact, there have been enough to firings by Henry to actually warrant a compilation:
Henry’s Late Sister Inspired Him To Pursue His Dreams
Henry is also a sympathetic character at times. He often tells the story that 9MAG was inspired by his sister, Nova Henry. Days before she and her 10-month old daughter were killed by her former attorney (with whom she was romantically involved), she encouraged her brother to pursue his passion.
Henry is forever changed by the loss. In 2017, he wrote a long, heartbreaking post on the birthday of Fredrick Goings, the man charged with his sister and niece’s murder.
“Ladies I keep this story alive for the rest of my life because it could save your life,” Henry wrote before revealing the sad details of their death. “Maybe your God Forgives Him, I Don’t.”
Ryan Has Undergone A Massive Body Transformation
It looks like Ryan Henry has recently spent some time working on himself. In January 2021, he posted a before and after Instagram photo, “all in hopes to inspire others to make changes to themselves FOR Them FIRST!” The pic shows him going evolving from an out-shape-physique to one that’s shredded:
There’s no word on whether Black Ink Crew: Chicago is renewed for another season. Until then, fans of the show can join the 1.5 million followers on Henry’s Instagram.