Mollee Gray on why dancers should study acting

Mollee Gray starred in the “Teen Beach Movie” series and was a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance.”  While dancing certainly launched her career, Mollee attributes much of her success to her acting training.  As a background performer in Hollywood, Mollee learned early on that acting was important for all performers–not just for the stars of the screen.  Amidst her busy schedule teaching and performing, we were able to learn more from Mollee about why dancers should study acting and how it transformed her professional career.

Why are acting skills important for dancers?

Acting skills are crucial for a working dancer in the industry. When hired as a dancer, you are featured a lot in the background behind the lead actors. If you don’t know how to act/react, the director will simply just move you out of frame.

Isn’t acting just for musical theater?

Absolutely not! Surprisingly enough, more companies and networks hire dancers rather than “extras” for film and TV work.

How can a dancer develop his or her acting skills?

A dancer can develop his or her acting skills by attending their school drama class, enrolling in a local theater program, or getting private coaching.

What if your dance teacher/choreographer doesn’t give you the storyline or emotion of the piece?

I think if the choreographer doesn’t give you the exact concept of the piece and it isn’t clear from the moves or lyrics, just ask.  There is nothing wrong with wanting clarity to make sure you do the piece justice.

How do you think your acting helped you stand out on SYTYCD?

Acting definitely helped me navigate being on a television show and to know what to expect when I was in front of the camera. For SYTYCD, America wanted to see your personality, so it wasn’t too much acting…but the skills definitely helped me out!

Can you explain how acting helps dancers, like yourself, to explore more opportunities in the performing arts industry?

Right after SYTYCD I had an audition to be a dancer in a film called “No Strings Attached.”  When the director came to watch rehearsals, he asked if I had any acting experience. When I told him I had, he gave me a scene and asked me to come in again that week to perform it in front of Paramount executives and casting directors.  The next day I found out I booked a small role…a scene opposite Ashton Kutcher!  It was a dream come true and really showed me what I wanted to do further in my career—to be an actress. I am so grateful I had acting experience under my belt when I needed it most!

To keep up with Mollee, make sure you follow her on Instagram @mollsgrayy.

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© 2020 by Mary Callahan