She’s focused. She’s driven. And she’s as talented in front of the camera, and in the recording studio, as she is on the dance floor. But that’s not what makes Alyson Stoner so incredible.
In a world of Hollywood glitz and glamour, she is also thoughtful, intelligent and philosophical.
She runs downstairs for a moment to find an inspirational poem to share with me, during a recent interview. An adaptation of Kent Keith’s “Paradoxical Commandments,” they are the same words reportedly found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta — known popularly by the title, “Do It Anyway.” Alyson also recites the beloved quote by Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” But it is her final saying that resonates with the most wisdom: “Who you are is what you do when no one is watching.”
For a girl who has grown up in the spotlight as a Disney Channel star on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Phineas and Ferb and in the Camp Rock movies, she could very easily have been swept away by the temptations of fame and the allure of fortune. But being the same person in her private life as she is in public is important to Alyson.
“They are empowering quotes,” she said. “And they remind me of my value structure and priorities in life, which is not at all about hoarding success for myself, but just truly being humbled by how brilliant the world is and how much there is to learn and see.”
This year, Alyson is taking Hollywood by storm with several new projects on the horizon, including the newest installment of the popular Step Up movie franchise, which hits theaters on August 8.
“I play Camille Cage, who was originally Channing Tatum’s little sister in the first Step Up installment,” Alyson said. “I reprised the same role in Step Up 3D, and played opposite Adam Sevani, the character Moose. We sort of kindled a relationship at the end of that movie. Well, now in Step Up: All In, I’m continuing my relationship with Moose.”
Over the years, Alyson has grown up in the role, making it one of her longest acting projects to date.
“I have enjoyed playing Camille because as she’s evolved, she’s learned her own worth within a relationship,” Alyson said. “She’s often considered a team player, and although there’s nothing wrong with being a team player and not the leader, I think it’s important for her to recognize her voice and value in different situations.”
The Step Up franchise has joined the ranks of some of the most successful movie franchises in Hollywood history. The previous films have grossed more then $500 Million in box office revenues worldwide.
“I believe the Step Up franchise has been so enduring because we capitalize on what we know the successful formula is by now, which is mainstream, trendy music. It’s the heartbeat of the film — the soundtrack. We infuse international flavors by incorporating different cultures, different dance styles and I think we also showcase individual talent uniquely, as opposed to forming characters first and then finding someone to hire. Often dance films find the people and build the character around their specialty, so people are really highlighted. Then, of course, for the young demographic we have the classic love triangles and inner conflicts. So it’s very relatable and obviously highly entertaining.”
Despite the challenging choreography and long hours spent practicing in rehearsals, Alyson was especially suited for the role with her strong background in dance.
“At the age of 3 to 6 or 7, I studied technically in ballet, tap and jazz,” Alyson said. “When I moved to Los Angeles, I incorporated hip hop into the repertoire. Since then, I’ve studied ballroom, underground, salsa, house dance, popping, locking, and different specialties like break dancing.”
As a kid, Alyson danced in music videos for recording artists Missy Elliott and Eminem.
“I’m most compelled by hip hop, because I myself am a very calculated, robotic, mechanical human,” Alyson said. “Hip hop is about freedom, creativity – really any dance genre – but specifically for me, that’s what hip hop evokes. And it’s been the biggest challenge, so that’s the one I like to tackle.”
Overall though, some of her favorite songs to dance to are ballads by neo soul artists like Janelle Monáe and India.Arie.
“They’re soulful and they’re often ballads,” she said. “It forces me to slow down and listen to the lyrics of them, the melodic structure and find musicality to follow with my movements.”
With years of experience in the field of dance, Alyson shares her knowledge with young people around the world who are interested in learning the art.
“I believe that you don’t truly know something until you can teach it,” Alyson said. “And my goal is to impart wisdom that helps in life as well as on the dance floor, for my dance students. I’ve been teaching now for 10 years around the world. We teach basic choreography combos, but we also work on the anatomy of different movements in your frame and precision, musicality, creativity and freestyle. But I like to use it as a doorway to broader lessons that they’ll carry with them, whether or not dance remains in their lives.”
Through her many artistic endeavors, Alyson continues to inspire and educate people around the globe.
“I’m passionate about humanity. I’m passionate about having compassion for understanding where [people] come from before I seek to judge or say things about them. I’m passionate about service-oriented living and putting others ahead of yourself, even in your own work,” Alyson said. “I’m passionate about the arts and I’m passionate about education. I have an interest in implementing curriculum into the school system via art or an actual written-out program to teach emotional intelligence and to prepare young people to increase their own self-awareness, so that they can navigate the world and relationships around them.”
Whether she is recording original tracks in the studio, kicking it on the dance floor or dazzling audiences on the big screen, Alyson Stoner continues to step up, leading others by example.
Want to know more about Alyson Stoner? Visit her official website at www.alysonstoner.com. You can also follow her on Twitter @alysonontour.