by: Anne M. Raso
Alyson Stoner, just 16, has already wowed teen viewers with Phineas & Ferb and Camp Rock 1 & 2 on the Disney Channel. Now she has her first feature with Disney Films proper - Step Up 3D coming out on Friday, August 6th. I got to go on the set 10 or 11 months ago in the Financial District - where some of the more ambitious dance scenes were shot in a now empty high-ceilinged building once used for admission of cruise passengers. We talked to Alyson about future projects, her friendship with Twilight star Taylor Lautner, her conservative viewpoints about dating and her strange quirks -including hating candy and stickers and not caring too much about getting her drivers license! Forthcoming projects including voicing the Little Engine in The Little Engine That Could and voicing Lorelei Tan Gu in Kung Foo Magoo. Of course, Phineas & Ferb is doing great so more episodes are in the works. Alyson might just be the ultimate teen voiceover queen and not even know it!
AS: Well, after this film, I expect to be breakdancing for the rest of my life. (Laughs.) I like to draw and painting pottery. I also love volunteering. I got to spend a day at a camp for kids with cancer last year (Sunrise Day Camp) and basically I was a counselor for a day. It was a lot of fun. My mom also take leftover food--or buy new food--and make bags up for the homeless. I have been doing a lot of that--giving back to the community has been the most rewarding thing for me. I want to help better the life of others.
Q: You are one of the youngest members of the Step Up 3D cast I have noticed. And Camp Rock as well...how are the two sets different for you?
AS: I am actually the youngest person in Step Up 3D. For me, it's great--I am like a student who just gets to sit back and learn from the most talented people in the world. With Camp Rock, I am more surrounded by people my own age so I tend to have more experiences after set. With Step Up 3D, filmed here in NYC, I have not gone out after set...I am not someone into nightlife or anything like that. With Camp Rock 2, I have more of the "family reunion" feel--here on the Step Up 3D set, I am just a students...I am the young grasshopper studying with the best of the best. (Laughs.)
Q: Would you say anyone stands out in particular in terms of taking you under their wing?
AS: Venom, Flips, Weegee and Legacy are all boys that have helped make me into a real dancing machine. (Laughs.) You'll see them on set--they are unbelievable. Their talent is through the roof.
Q: So do you think you will be focusing on dance in the future?
AS: I think this project specifically kind of rebirthed the passion that I had for dance so I know I can't ever give it up but I know that my focus is also going to be on the music. I am a singer and I am working with producers on a soulful pop sound but I like live instrumentation. I want my album to be real music--with real instrumentation--so I am going to take my time and make a good solid record as opposed to rushing something out.
Q: Have you been recording a lot of music?
AS: I have been recording since I was seven and my mom has saved all my lyric sheets--I have about 200 pages of songs from when I was eight and nine years old.
Q: They must be fun to look back on!
AS: Oh yes. (Laughs.) I am a real words girl and I am always like, "Dictionary, please!" I always look for interesting synonyms or unusual words to be in songs...but that I cannot pull out easily from my sleeve. It has been fun. I love writing.
Q: This movie is in 3D so what scenes do you look forward to seeing on the big screen?
AS: Well, besides the battle scenes, of course, I just want to see the depth. The 3D technology makes the audience really feel like they are part of the film. I want to see the colors! All the hair, makeup and clothing colors really pop on camera--and the 3D will only add to that.
Q: Tell me more about the Alyson Stoner Project.
AS: It is a dance-based instructional fitness DVD and it is composed of an instructional portion, a music dvd and behind the scene interviews. There are bonus features including hidden celebrity appearances but we won't tell people that ahead of time--so they will just be watching and see people from Wizards Of Waverly Place or Desperate Housewives pop up! It is actually available on line right now and we are working on distribution in Canada. Maybe it is the first of a series or maybe it is a solo deal--we are not sure. We have to see how the audience reacts.
Q: Oh cool! I know you are close friends with Taylor Lautner. How did you like the way he transformed himself for New Moon, and had to obviously keep that buff look for Eclipse.
AS: He is big and manly now! (Laughs.) He's tall, manly, masculine and strong and that's weird.
Q: Do you see that relationship going any further? He is so cute. Girls are dying to know anything we have to say about them in the teen magazines.
AS: No, our relationship is based on being around our families--so he is like my brother. I find it bizarre that girls go crazy over him. He is undoubtedly good looking but it just isn't that way between us.
Q: Have you seen the three Twilight movies?
AS: Yes, and Taylor invited me to the premieres each time...and he gave me a sneak peek of the movie effects ahead of time on New Moon. He put a lot of work into getting himself physically and mentally ready for the films.
Q: Do you think Rob Pattinson is sexy--or can you not get "on board" with that, either?
AS: This sounds strange but I don't see looks! I think this actually helps me when I am doing roles with people who some say are attractive! I always say, "Oh, he is not my type!" It helps me judge someone by their work...the fruit of their labor and their character. I have not met Rob but I am sure he is a nice guy!
Q: How do you and Taylor (Lautner) stay in touch?
AS: He is quite busy now. We email each other or text and see if we are going to be anywhere in the world at the same time, basically. (Laughs.)
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects after this?
AS: When I get back to LA I am recording a song for the Tinkerbelle soundtrack and Phineas & Ferb, my animated series, got picked up for 35 more episodes and i will be recording music on my own...and I have Camp Rock 2 coming out which was shot in Fall (2009). [Ed note: CR2 is already out at the time of this writing]. The Little Engine That Could is my newest animated movie and that will be coming out next year. I am the Little Engine. (Laughs.) Kung Fu Magoo is another movie that does not have an official release date yet. There are many projects I have in the can or coming up. I also teach dance steps all over the country--and I am about to turn 16. I want to go to an impoverished area and serve. I am getting together some well-known friends to make some pottery that can be auctioned off for charity--specifically for The Firefly Foundation. I would actually be happy to just spend my 16th birthday hanging out with my family and eating dinner.
Q: Are you concerned about getting your driver's license?
AS: I saw the 700 page book you have to read if you take the test the regular way so my sister said, "Take the weekend course." So I think I might do that. But I have a good relationship with my mom so I do not really mind being in the car with her for a couple more years. (Laughs.) She has actually let me drive in the neighborhood once...I was pretty good besides hugging the right curb in her Escalade. I can drive in a straight line and everything! (Laughs.)
Q: Do you have any phobias?
AS: Well, I have this thing about stickers. I have had a sticker phobia since I was younger. Why? I think it was because when I was little and would go to the doctor's office, the nurse would always ask if I wanted a sticker and I would go, "NO!" Maybe I am terrified of stickers because they remind me of doctor's offices but I am trying to get over it. I am working on it slowly but surely. It is so silly--there is no good reason to have that fear. (Laughs.) Oh, and another quirk is that when I eat, I have to eat my vegetables first. I can ever eat the meat before I eat the vegetables and I do not know why! I absolutely have to eat all the vegetables first because I want to save the best for last. (Laughs.) But I also love vegetables!
Q: Do you have any hidden talents?
AS: Working on this movie has helped me work on my break dancing! I do not know if that is a hidden talent, though.
Q: Many readers are curious what your bedroom is like--what colors are in it?
AS: My bedroom has lime green walls and white wicker furniture that was from another house. We are just renting and I do not want my mom to spend extra money on a bed (until we get a permanent place to live) so I am sleeping on a couch right now. i think what makes my room unique is that it is very simple and that it speaks for itself. I think the main focus is that it is light and happy--when you walk in, you kind of feel refreshed. Green is my favorite color.
Q: Are there any pictures hanging up?
AS: No pictures or anything. I am just a very simple Midwest girl. I think the nicest thing in my room is my piano. I just got it because I am taking piano lessons. It is the first thing that people see when they walk in and they get the message that Alyson is obsessed with music! (Laughs.) I love to play piano all day long. I spend so much time in my room and my mom gets concerned. But I love spending time alone, being in my head, and thinking through things. I love meditating on the great things I have been blessed with. I can spend days in my room and not come out...I love music and I love my piano!
Q: What are you dressing up for on Halloween?
AS: I have never dressed up on Halloween--that is another weird thing about me! I love handing out candy but I do not like trick or treating. I find people watching very fascinating.
Q: What is your favorite candy?
AS: I do not really like candy; I just like passing it out. I know I am really weird! (Laughs.)
Q: That is okay.
AS: I just chew gum if I want something sweet. With the giving out candy thing....well, I just like giving (in general) and I don't like taking. It has always bothered me to go up to someone's door and go, "Can I take things?" That is why I like Christmas better.
Q: The Jonas Brothers were dressing up in costumes during their soundchecks last year...maybe they can inspire you to get dressed up for Halloween.
AS: I do not think so but my, those Jonas boys are so creative.
Q: Do you have any celebrity crushes?
AS: No crushes because I don't plan to date until I am looking for marriage so if I keep my mind focused on building strong friendships with guys then I won't have to worry about he lustful, crush kind of thing that a lot of girls my age have. Sorry, I know I am different than a lot of girls my age! And I know I never give writers any fun gossipy answers since I don't know anything going on in the (Hollywood teen) world....but I am happy! At least I keep it real.
Q: Do people recognize you from that old Missy Elliot video you did ("Work It")?
AS: Yes, and it surprises me because I would never think people would! For some reason, people felt that they could relate to me in that video...I was like this little white girl out of her element! (Laughs.)
Q: You were really showing off your moves--it was cute!
AS: Actually, we just saw Missy a couple of days ago and she congratulated me and my mom on my success. I was so fortunate to get to be a part of that video even if the content was a little questionable. We did not know about Missy Elliott at the time (or that she was a rapper) and we went by my sister's judgment at that time. My sister said, "I love her--she has clean lyrics and she's great. Her sound is very family friendly." And we showed up and we were taken aback. Luckily, she only used me on the clean parts of her song and whenever she performed with me, she would keep me in a separate room from the rappers and other (adult) performers. She never allowed me to go on tour because she thought it was not an environment for kids. She looked after me like that. I have been so blessed to work with such good people.
Q: What do you think will surprise fans about Step Up 3D--or what do you think the message of the movie is?
AS: Well, I think the message of the movie is that you do not have to sacrifice your passion to make a steady living. The main character feels pressure by his parents to make a living instead of using his gift. I think if people pursued their dreams, this world would be a much happier place. This movie instills this type of mindset--that anything is possible and that you don't have to sacrifice (your dreams).
[Photos: Disney Films/Summit Entertainment]