Alyson Stoner was labeled a triple threat all her life. She captivated audiences everywhere after appearing in three of Missy Elliot’s music videos and also Eminem’s video for “Just Lose It.” Alyson later became even more recognizable for her Disney Channel segment “Mike’s Super Short Show,” while simultaneously appearing in feature films like “Cheaper by the Dozen” alongside Steve Martin, Hilary Duff, and Twilight’s Taylor Lautner. Despite appealing to Disney audiences, Alyson also happens to capture older audiences through “Step Up,” “Step Up 3-D”, and the upcoming “Step Up 5.”
The now 20-year-old talent also sets time aside for college as well, taking online classes as a neuroscience major (going into astronomy). She continues to inspire her fans through her online blog, where she preaches the importance of education and self-expression (cue applause!). Alyson’s accomplishments sure has us motivated!
You’ve acted in several big films and TV shows, and have even put out some records. But what a lot of people remember you as a dancer, too. What is it about dance that has made you stick with it for so many years? How did dancing unfold into an acting career?
For the first 15 years, it was the combination of my insecurity (always perceiving those around me to have insider information about dance and movement) and my early formed work ethic (strict discipline and daily Training with no option of quitting) that kept me in class. Recently, I saw the rigidity and restriction of my own method, so I stopped learning choreography and undertook free styling, learning from street dancers with raw passion. It’s as though I’ve fallen in love with dance all over again, and this time I can love it back.
The public saw me dance first and act second, so they assume one evolved into the other professionally. Actually, dance was a small town hobby. It was when I pursued other forms of art and performance that we saw fit to try out the industry. Once in Los Angeles, there was no controlling what jobs I booked or how popular each would be. A lot of people don’t realize how little the performer himself can plan.
A lot of your fellow former child actors, like Dylan and Cole Sprouse (stars of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody), decided to put a pause on their acting careers to live very normal lives. (Ex: Dylan working as a waiter in New York for the experience, and both brothers simply going to school). What inspires you to continue working in Hollywood?
Simply put, I’m not finished yet! I have unmet goals. I’m inspired daily. I learn about humanity and travel because of my work. I want to be clear, though: I, too, lead a normal life and attend school. Acting, like serving, is just my job.
You’re releasing some new music. Your upcoming single, Dragon (That’s What You Wanted), sounds a lot different from your prior music. What inspired the new sound? We remember you blogging about how you love the sounds of people like Colbie Caillat. Dragon seems very different? Almost Janet Jackson like!
A: My love for Colbie, Corinne, and Sade hasn’t simmered. I avoided dance pop prior because I was disappointed in the sameness of everyone’s sound. Then I was reminded of Janet; suddenly, the lane was open for reinventing quality dance music.
Are there any musical artists that have particularly influenced your new style? Is there a certain career you want to emulate?
A: I’ll continue to study music from all genres and eras. I particularly admire Janet’s production circa early 2000s, and Justin Timberlake’s versatility on stage.
The music video for Dragon features a lot of choreography (of course!). A lot of the dance sequences were very Janet Jackson-esque. What do you consider when deciding what routines to use for a music video?
A: As my choreographer and dance mentor ShoTyme taught me, the first instructor is the music itself. Only after you follow the song’s lead should you add your unique flare.