By Stephanie O'Born
With appearances in three Missy Elliot music videos, recurring roles on popular Disney Channel TV shows, and big screen credits that include Cheaper By The Dozen, Step Up and Camp Rock, Alyson Stoner, 16, has managed to stay down-to-earth in the midst of a budding Hollywood career. Instead of adopting Tinseltown tastes, Stoner seems more passionate about maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle.
Getfitwithalyson.com presented by Wii Fit and The Alyson Stoner Project [a dance video], incorporate her love of dance with fitness, which she hopes will influence others.
Canadian Family sat down with this ambitious entertainer before the release of her latest project Alice Upside Down.
Q. You’ve been dancing, singing and acting since you were a child. How did your career start?
A: I actually wanted to get into the business to follow [in] my sister’s footsteps. She danced at a young age and I wanted to be just like her. She’s basically my role model, dance wise. After I attended a convention with acting and singing involved I saw that I had a true passion for this business. I moved out to California to really pursue it.
Q. What kind of influence have your parents had on you and your career?
A: Every influence possible — 100 percent because they’ve not only taught me the skills I need to perform my best but also how to interact and build relationships with people that are surrounding me.
Q. Describe an average day.
A:The thing is there is a complete lack of schedule. It changes daily. Usually it consists of four to five interviews, whether it be phone or in person, I’ll have a voice lesson, I’ll teach a dance class to six to 17 year olds, I will film a scene or two from the movie and after that maybe go and record an animated series that I’m working on, and then, once I get home, I usually try to do some kind of fitness or exercise before the day is done and finish my school work.
Q. How do you manage a normal life and your career?
A: To be honest, I do not have a normal life. I don’t go to regular school and I don’t interact with kids my age all the time. That is a sacrifice you have to be willing to make in this business. I’m a total workaholic. I really enjoy being on set and challenging myself and taking my craft to the next level constantly. What is normal in this business?
Q. Your new movie Alice Upside Down was just released on DVD. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
A: Alice Upside Down is based on a series of books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and it’s a heart warming family film that follows a girl through the “tween years, which are awkward and constantly humiliating. She grows up without a Mom and she has only male influences to build from, so her style choices aren’t up to par. She wants to fit in but doesn’t know her strengths and weaknesses yet. It’s all about finding your own, individual, special qualities and making those shine the most.
Q. What other exciting projects do you have in the works?
A: I have nine: Getfitwithalyson.com, Get Wii Fit with Alyson, Phineas & Ferb, Kung Fu Magoo [an animated movie], I’m designing my own dance shoe with Bloch [a dance and apparel corporation], I’m pursuing my singing and I will have a track on the Space Buddies soundtrack for Disney, Camp Rock, Alice Upside Down, and The Alyson Stoner Project.
Q. As the newly appointed spokesperson for Wii Fit, how do you stay in shape?
A: Well, I grew up in an athletic family. I’ve been playing sports and dancing my whole life. Aside from that, I think making little tweaks in your daily routine help keep you in shape, whether it be a 10 minute stretch in the morning, setting aside 10 minutes during your lunch break to go for a jog or a walk. Sometimes I even do my workouts in an airport. I find a space and time for staying in shape because that is what keeps me going and healthy.
Q. There is a lot of pressure put on women in the entertainment industry — have you thought about how you’ll stay true to yourself as you get older?
A: Yes. There are so many temptations, so many pressures, and so many clichés. Everyone thinks you have to look a certain way when really people fall in love with the individuals who stay true to themselves. You may like something that’s a fad but in the long run you really look up to the people who have their head screwed on straight in the right way. That’s why I choose role models like Natalie Portman and Jodie Foster who got their education. I keep friends outside of the business to keep that environment near and education has always been a part of my life. Instead of going to a party I will stay home and do homework or I will make friends with adults who are successful and can mentor me and lead me in the right direction.
Q. How do you feel about becoming a role model to young girls, and what do you hope girls learn from you?
A: There is so much! Being a role model [comes with] a level of responsibility and pressure to meet the standards of perfect morals, perfect values, perfect choices. I have a lot of decisions to make and a lot of pressure and stress, yet that’s always been something I’ve believed in, to stay true to myself in this business. Be that light when everyone else is falling into sex, drugs and violence. I choose age-appropriate films to work on, with good messages behind them. I hope kids learn from me how to make the most of everyday of their life and to find their own individual qualities that will make them shine and successful.