Alyson Stoner Dishes On “Step Up All In” and More!
“Growing up, I did not distinguish acting from my other hobbies,” Alyson said.
Along with acting, she was also extremely fond of sports, math team, pottery and painting, among other interests.
“I now see I was so engaged, challenged, and comforted by the process of role-playing and regulating my emotions in auditions that it was an integral life instructor, which is why I believe my passion never faded, only heightened,” she said.
Her first major-onscreen role was for the 2003 film Cheaper by the Dozen. When she first auditioned for the film, director Shawn Levy called her in to read for the role of one of the twin girls.
“After having too much sass, he gave me sides for the other twin,” Alyson said. “Still unsatisfied, he had me read for Sarah Baker. She was supposed to be 13 but my petite frame proved to be a challenge. But eventually he believed my tomboyish spunk fit the bill.”
Alyson nabbed the role, but the call confirming that she got the part couldn’t have come at a worse time! “I was actually in the process of evacuating my house because of a nearby forest fire,” Alyson said. “I was ecstatic, and also really terrified! I screamed with glee, and then basically went back to packing up memorabilia.”
Alyson was just 3 years old when she started studying ballet, tap and jazz at a local dance studio in Toledo, Ohio. When she moved to L.A. at the age of 7, she took up hip-hop dancing as well.
“Now I study hip-hop, house, breaking and some specialty styles,” she said.
Though her dancing abilities eventually opened up the part for her, Alyson said that her role in Step Up almost didn’t happen.
“I was actually not supposed to be in Step Up,” Alyson explained. “The director of Cheaper By The Dozen 2 was producing Step Up, and he remembered Channing Tatum’s character having a foster sibling. Originally the script called for a little African American boy, but the director took a chance on me and switched the role completely.”
Alyson’s success in Step Up also nabbed her roles in Step Up 3D, as well as the latest installment, Step Up All In.
“I couldn’t have ever perceived the franchise would be so successful and enduring!” she said. “With each film, you do your personal training plus rehearsals, and you embrace all of it knowing the production team could demand anything of you at any second.”
Alyson had always been a singer as well, and she trained vocally even before her time with Disney. She was interested in songwriting from a young age.
“My mom collected hundreds of pages of lyrics I wrote beginning at age five,” Alyson said. “But after Camp Rock, I really honed in on developing a sound and being an artist.”
In the beginning, Alyson’s perfectionism made the process somewhat difficult and emotional for her.
“Because the microphone heard every flaw and nuance, I cried several sessions in a row before acknowledging not every take would be perfect,” she said. “When I learned to let go and face my own voice, I unlocked a wider range, stronger tone, better pitch, and of course, creativity.”
Alyson’s original tracks include the hit single, “Dragon (That’s What You Wanted).”
“‘Dragon (That’s What You Wanted)’ is about that first moment in a relationship where you begin to consider moving on,” she said. “You know deep down that you’ve explored all your options: been patient, adaptable, and holding on would now be counterproductive to both people’s growth and well-being. You’re not even giving or receiving fair support and love anymore, and when the person threatens to break up, you kindly say, ‘…if you want space, I will not only give you space, but gladly be on my way for good.’”
She added that the song’s hook, “that’s what you wanted, that’s what you’re going to get” sums up the emotion nicely.
For the song’s music video, Alyson wanted to go more abstract. Rather than telling the story directly, she used the video as a venue to introduce herself to her audience as a singer, songwriter and performer.
“I added elements of dance and freestyle, used wardrobe and choreography inspired by Janet and J. Lo to bring back the 90s/early 2000s dance era, and made sure the audience knew I could handle whatever beat was thrown my way,” she said.
In January, Alyson also collaborated with Max Schneider and Kurt Schneider on a cover of “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood.
“‘Sweater Weather’ was such a last minute, spontaneous effort,” Alyson said. “Thankfully, immediately we all clicked. Kurt’s gut told him to slow down the original tune for a piano ballad; Max gave me chills with his effortless vocals; and I just shared what my instincts guided me to give.”
The version of the song was extremely popular, and has now been viewed more than 6 million times!
“I had no idea it’d be so well received,” Alyson said. “It’s nice when people appreciate music that’s honest and true to those who made it.”
But Alyson does a lot more with her voice than just singing. She has also lent her voice talents to animated series including The Legend of Korra, Phineas and Ferb, and Young Justice.
“Voice acting is just as broad as on-screen work,” she explained. “Sometimes I voice characters on animated television series. Other times I’m the singer in the jingle for a local company, or – a fan favorite – the background voices of girls screaming at the concert in the Justin Bieber movies. Yes. That’s a job.”
She said that doing such distinctive work with her voice is not easy, but very fulfilling.
“I enjoy the challenge it provides of studying intonation and inflections of the human voice as well as sound placement and vocal distortion for creatures and action grunts,” she said.
Alyson is extremely passionate about each of her professional endeavors, but she’s the most passionate about what she called “the field of humanity.”
“I do what I do to learn about humans, including the inner and outer workings of my own brain, as well as family, friends, the local community, and entire world population,” she said. “Acting, singing and dancing are my avenues to discover and share information.”
On July 14, Alyson appeared in a guest starring role on TNT’s Major Crimes, before playing Mary on Lifetime’s Expecting Amish on July 19. In that role, she starred alongside AJ Michalka, Jesse McCartney and Jean-Luc Bilodeau.
Alyson’s work in Step Up All In releases in theaters across the country on August 8, so be sure not to miss it!
She’s also slated to appear in a family drama called Hoovey, a teen comedy called A-List and the thriller Selling Isobel, as well as a short film, which she wasn’t allowed to name.
“I have several songs recorded and ready for release, so now it’s about timing and vision,” she added.
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.
Alyson Stoner is all grown up, but she is still an incredible talent. Her fans remember her for her work in Disney hits such as The Suite Life of Zach and Cody and Mike’s Super Short Show. She went on to show off her dance skills in Step Up and just grew up before our eyes.
Now she is starring in Expecting Amish, a new Lifetime movie that premieres this weekend. To celebrate her new role, we have a special exclusive interview with Alyson. Below are some of the highlights from our chat.
THE BEGINNING: Alyson, who is originally from Ohio, started out as a dancer. She attended a convention at the tender age of seven, which led to her heading to LA for a nine month trial period to try acting. She ended up showing potential, so she and her family relocated there permanently.
She went on to work on several products for The Disney Channel, while still dancing. She worked with several artists, such and Missy Elliott, Ludacris and Eminem during this time, and eventually pursued a singing career.
EXPECTING AMISH: In her new movie Expecting Amish, Alyson plays Mary, who is a friend of Hannah. She describes her character as having a blurred line between ally and villain because although she wants to support her friend in her new journey, she has her own insecurities and jealousies.
To prepare for the role, she read several books and watched documentaries about the Amish culture in order to get a better understanding of the culture’s customs. Her goal was to show what was going on while still hiding the fact that she had a deceitful side to her. This kind of role was a new challenge for her, but one she happily accepted.
WHAT’S NEXT: Now that Expecting Amish is about to premiere, Alyson has been hard at work with several other projects. She as several new movies coming out, such as A-List and Step Up, as well as two new animated shows for Disney and Nickelodeon.
In addition, she is going to be in New York for a concert series she is working on August 8th and 9th.
ADVICE TO FANS: Alyson has been a star for most of her life and has also been a very positive role model for her fans. When asked about what advice she would give them, she had a very interesting answer: build self awareness and emotional intelligence so we can relate to the environment and people according to the past. Be in tuned to your own mind and spirit in order to become a responsible, scholarly, respectful citizen for society.
PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW: Although she is a staple on television and film, Alyson is actually ‘painfully normal’ and an ‘extreme introvert.’ She is social because of her job, but would prefer to be home alone with a good book or spending time outside.
She is also in school studying neuroscience. She is still taking the gen-ed classes, but is loving every moment of being a college student. She says it is a good way to keep her grounded so she isn’t entirely busy with work.
Alyson Stoner is one of the busiest women in Hollywood taking on acting, dancing and also singing. Most notable for her roles in Disney Channel’s Camp Rock movie and as the voice of “Isabella” on Disney’s hit show ‘Phineas and Ferb,’ it was her amazing performances in the ‘Step Up’ movies and her musical talents that made us want to have a chat with Alyson (who is one of the most authentic and lovely human beings I’ve ever chatted with). Check out our interview with Alyson below and don’t forget to watch her on Lifetime Channels “Expecting Amish” on July 14th and also in ‘Step Up: All in” on August 8th.
Ashleigh: How did you get started in acting, singing, and dancing?
Alyson: I’m from Toledo, Ohio and at age 3 I admired my older sister who was a dancer, so I enrolled at the same dance academy as her in their modern program until I was 7. Then I went to an IMTA convention and met with different agents and managers, just for fun, I wasn’t really thinking about making it career. I showed enough potential that they recommended I spend time out to Los Angeles, so my Mom and I commented from Toledo to Los Angeles for the next 9 months. I went on quite a few auditions and after the 9 months my family all moved out to California and my little kid from Ohio dream turned into an everyday reality.
Ashleigh: You’ve been in 3 of the ‘Step Up’ movies so far, what do you like about the ‘Step Up’ franchise?
Alyson: I personally find that each instalment has a different director, cast and crew, and I’ve also been in a different season in my life for each of them, so I feel like each movie is a unique experience that centres around my undying passion for music and dance. Also, I think that the success of the franchise is helpful for launching different aspects of my career. It’s sort of the reliable cousin that you can always count on for every family reunion. Because of ‘Step Up’ I’ve been able to really take my career to the next level. I have them to thank for a lot of my success.
Ashleigh: What is it like on the set?
Alyson: For me it’s a new experience every single time, because – The dance community has a great strength in synergizing immediately. So we recognize that opposed to being competition, which we are in the audition process, once we’re on the job is about cohesion, it’s about striving to highlight each individual in their own element, while also creating something that is visually tantalizing to the audience. While the ingredients of each movie has been different, the recipe for success is the same, which is to click immediately and make the best possible movie.
Ashleigh: Before ‘Step Up: All In’ hits theatres, fans can watch you in a lifetime movie entitled ‘Expecting Amish.’ Can you tell us a little about that movie?
Alyson: ‘Expecting Amish’ stars Jesse McCartney, AJ Mikalka, Jean-Lue Bilodeau and myself during Rumspringa which is the time that Amish teenagers get to decide if they want to remain in the Amish community and abide by their belief system or venture out into the English world. It’s really thought provoking and challenging to study a different culture and I can’t just make character decision on my own inklings, I have to sort get into a different mindset. I play Mary, AJ’s best friend, she wilder than most of the characters I’ve portrayed but it’s been because of her upbringing. She is quick to experiment and quick to try anything and everything. Mary’s personality adds a good contrast to AJ’s character and we show what it’s like to grow up Amish and know that there’s this whole world happening outside your community but being told that’s it’s evil and wrong, and wrestling with that. It’s a major spiritual and psychological issue that everyone wrestles with in the Amish community.
Ashleigh: For your research did you ever watch TLC’s ‘Breaking Amish’?
Alyson: I did not, I personally watched a documentary that AJ recommended. I’m glad I did because the format was more raw and vivid than the style that a 27 minute reality television show can really get into. What’s great is we actually have friends who belong or have previously belonged to the Amish community, so we got first hand stories and I was able to talk with them about visitors and visiting the Amish country. It was very enlightening to think this is very much going on as we speak. What was really interesting was that the upcoming Amish generation is actually closer to average American teenager in their use of the English language because of the use of technology.
Ashleigh: Along with acting you also have started a singing career! What made you decide to take on singing as well?
Alyson: I was first asked to sing as my character in Phineas and Ferb and being a perfectionist, I didn’t want to settle for just getting by, so I enrolled in a vocal training program. I then learned that songwriting and studying the voice actually pair with a lot of troubles that I had expressing myself, being vulnerable, trusting other people, trusting myself, calming anxiety. It became a life instructor of sorts and that is what kept me engaged with it. Also, with acting and dancing I portray a predetermined character and story for the most part, with music I have the creative freedom to create a song on a whim with whomever I choose and at whatever time I choose to do it. It’s more liberating artistically and that’s why I’ve stuck with it. It’s a good balance to be able to portray a character and also be myself in avenues that I’m passionate about.
Alyson: Ironically, the story didn’t hit home until after I had released it, some might call it was a bit of a prophecy, some might call it a curse of sorts. The song is about a long term relationship that hits the point of an ultimatum when neither side is willing to grow or adapt due to stubbornness or what have you. You reach that place when you have to decide what is best for our futures, individually, and if it doesn’t match why are we still waisting each others time? The song tag is “That’s what you wanted, that’s what you’re going to get.” basically someone gives you the ultimatum and threatens to leave and you bet them to the punch line and say, “While you’re there, don’t bother coming back because I’m actually going to move forward without anyway.” So it’s kinda sassy and I didn’t resonate with it personally until after when it happened with my first relationship. The good thing is in my case I’m all about love and communications, so there was no hard feelings, it was like ok we reached the end of this season and I wish you well and it’s time to move on. As a pop song it’s definitely open to many different interpretations, I received a call from a cousin saying that it helped her heal after an abusive relationship and another friend said it represented her of a summer fling. We tried to write carefully so that it can be relatable to cover a wide audience.
Alyson: To be complete honest, I received a phone call from Max’s girlfriend (who I’ve known for years, she’s a dancer) saying “hey we are looking for people to collaborate and we want to do this song” and I agreed. Within six hours I showed up, recorded it in about 30 minutes and had no idea the longevity it would have on YouTube. We ended up shooting the video, I was sick the day we filmed and ended up in the ER as soon as we wrapped. It was just something I decided to throw into the mix, even though you’re already busy and it ended up being a stand out performance. It was super unplanned, a lot of fun and pretty organic.
Ashleigh: I have to ask, how many sweaters did you two go through in that video?
Alyson: I think we changed 5 or 6 times and it’s one take, so we had to hide the sweaters and change with the choreography of the camera. Truth be told, we spent 6 to 8 hours trying to get a single take and the only one that worked was the last time right before I had to go to the hospital. The same thing happened with Rixton when I was in their video for “Me and My Broken Heart.” We spent about 8 hours trying to get one usable take and then finally got one right before they had to get on a plane to fly back to the UK.
Ashleigh: What’s next in your music career?
Alyson: Well I was just on the phone with my producer in New York and we are dreaming up a concept for an EP, I’d like to have 3 or 4 solid songs by the end of the summer. In the meantime I am preparing to perform in New York with the top classical musicians from around the world, we have an orchestra doing a string adaptation of whatever music I choose. We will be playing a few different venues. Still moving forward, I’m just being very selective about what I put out there. There seems to be a lot of music out there and I don’t want to put something out there that isn’t a) completely authentic and top of the line, b) it’s not going to be set apart from the maze of other artists that you can stream and download. I have nothing to prove so I don’t feel like I’m in a rush, and also I’m not trying to be famous musically so I have less pressure to conform. I’m trying to strike a balance between sonically pleasing and something that’s different.
Ashleigh: What can fans expect to come next with your acting and dancing career?
Alyson: Acting wise, July 14th I’m going to be on Major Crimes on TNT, July 19th is the release date for ‘Expecting Amish’ on the Lifetime Channel, August 8th is the release of ‘Step Up: All In,’ I also have a film coming out next year called “Hoovey,” another one releasing soon called ‘The A-List,” more episodes with “Phineas and Ferb,” and a thriller called “Selling Isobel.” In about a week I will be shooting a new psychological thriller called “Cadence.” I also am traveling around the country teaching master classes and dance workshop intensity programs. Wherever people call, I show up and work with their students.
Alyson-Stoner.US’s 21st BIRTHDAY PROJECT for ALYSON STONER!!!
We’re at that time again! August is quickly approaching which means Alyson’s birthday is right around the corner! Alyson will be turning 21 this August and I wanted to make the BIGGEST project yet! Want to help make Alyson’s birthday special? Participate in this years project! Details below:
- Write a birthday message to Alyson wishing her a ‘Happy Birthday’ – Get creative and make birthday edits/graphics for Alyson – Mention anything else you want to tell Alyson!
I will be putting together a birthday book with everyone’s messages and sending it to Alyson herself! All submissions must be sent in by AUGUST 1st! That gives everyone about a month to work on their messages! Email everything to email@example.com