Aaron's role as Kipland Ronald "Kip" Dynamite in Napoleon Dynamite marks his acting debut. As a photographer Ruell also shot the promotional photography for the film, and designed the opening title sequence. In the television series, Ruell reprises his role as Kip.
Ruell was born Derek Aaron Ruell in Fresno, California and grew up in Clovis, California. He attended Clovis West High School in Clovis, California and graduated in 1994.
Ruell, (along with Jon Heder, Jared & Jerusha Hess) is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He discovered still photography and filmmaking in high school, which led him to study film at Brigham Young University, which is owned and operated by the LDS Church.
Ruell's work as a filmmaker includes several short films as well as a series of national television commercials including T-Mobile, Nintendo, Coca-Cola, Burger King, and Powerade. As a director he is represented by Biscuit Filmworks in Los Angeles.