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.
Your blog features a lot of positive and inspirational posts. Why is it important to you to pass on good messages to your fans? What do you do to stay positive in a highly critical world-like Hollywood? A: If a quote, article or story provokes life-giving thought and propels me in a positive direction, I want nothing more than to share it with anyone who'll listen or benefit. Age-old truths exist for a reason. We have to learn from our elders and the brilliant minds before us.
You're going to school right now to study neuroscience (and onto astronomy!) while acting, singing, and dancing. How do you maintain balance? A: Haha. I didn't know about balance until I crashed! Now I prioritize basic nutrition, fitness, and rest. Additionally, it's imperative to keep a sound mind and perspective on what matters. Family and friends have never been treasured so much in my life.
We remember you growing up to the waves of the Internet, Myspace, blogging, and then Youtube. It was just a few years ago when fans remember seeing photos of you with friends like Taylor Lautner. It's amazing how times have changed. How do you think social media, if at all, helped your career and helped you connect with fans? A: I avoided social media as much as possible because I wasn't sure how to be myself and connect with people without worrying about their perception, knowing how to maintain privacy, and other risks. I also didn't feel right connecting with fans for the selfish sake of getting them to buy and watch my work. So now I try and connect as a human, not entertainer, first. I also allow myself to have and reciprocate support. My fans are members of my team, and I'm on their teams.
You're in Step Up 5. What can we expect (if you're able to share) from your character and her relationship to Adam Sevani's character? A: People change and grow. Expect a different side of Camille at the forefront of her relationship to/with Moose.
We did a fun photo shoot with you on Monday. The style of the shoot was 50s-esque. What is your own personal fashion style? Are you one to do random shopping sprees? Who are your favorite designers, or what are your favorite stores? A: I confess: 85% of my wardrobe consists of hand-me-downs, clothes from character wardrobes, and birthday gifts. I don't like spending money or shopping. In a fantasy world, classy and feminine pieces aka Jackie Kennedy's iconic style, would be as affordable as my Wal-Mart sweatpants.
Who are some actors or performers you wish to work with, but haven't yet? A: I was heavily impacted by Sandra Bullock's performance in "Gravity." I would be honored to work alongside her.
What would be your next ideal movie role, or movie? A: Haha. Again, it's so beyond my control! But in a dream world, something cinematically challenging and thrilling like "Life of Pi" or "Gravity."
If you could, what film would you have wanted to be in (can be a classic!). And why? A: I'd be in Finding Dory! I've been looking forward to that movie since the announcement months ago.
You're almost 21! It just feels like yesterday when we saw you on the "Maury" show. Do you have any goals you wish to fulfill before you turn 21? Or even in the next five years? A: I'd like to learn to fly a plane, speak Japanese, and backpack through India and parts of Africa. I'd also like to contribute more to my community and planet.
Location: Milk Jar Cookies (5466 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036)
Interview by Amanda Evans Edited by Lucia Tran