Kent Boyd, Garrett Clayton, Jordan Fisher, Mollee Gray. Credit: © Disney Channel/Francisco Roman
Teen Beach Movie, Disney Channel's West Side Story-esque tale pegged as the next High School Musical, airs Friday. Utah native Mollee Gray plays Giggles, a lighthearted surfer chick who's not afraid to get tough.
Like the character, Gray giggles. We know—she laughed and made us laugh over the course of a recent interview. Along with sharing her humor and heart (she's involved in anti-bullying campaigns), Gray told us about reaching the top eight on So You Think You Can Dance, dancing in all three High School Musical movies and her music career.
A profile story on Gray, who also acted alongside Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached, will go in our December issue.
In anticipation for Teen Beach Movie's debut, we wanted to share some of our interview with readers. Here are five of the questions we asked the singer/dancer/actress:
What did you get out of dancing in the High School Musical movies?
"I had done an independent film before that, and as a dancer, I worked a little bit in front of the cameras, but it was nothing like how [HSM director] Kenny Ortega treated us. He was so amazing. I just thought the entire movie world had to be like this, and I fell in love with it. And it got to the point where I started looking up to actors a lot more and understanding how hard their work is."
Tell us a bit about that independent film you mentioned.
"It was called Out of Step, and we filmed in Utah. It was a Ryan Little film, and it was in theaters in Utah. I played the lead girl when she was 9 years old. They did the stages of her life, and I was her when she was 9."
Are you anything like Giggles in Teen Beach Movie?
"I can relate to Giggles in the sense that she's a free spirit. She likes to have fun, she likes to dance and stay at the beach, and I love the beach and I love to dance. I think the only thing we aren't very similar in is she wears a lot of fringe—only fringe swimsuits. I don't wear a lot of fringe."
Did you learn anything working with Ashton Kutcher?
"I learned to have a relaxed spirit about it, because he was very chill and I was very nervous. It was one of my first acting jobs. He's like 'Are you nervous?' And I was like, 'A little bit.' And he's like, 'Really, just relax. It's so much easier if you don't think about the lines—you just say them.' So I did, and it was a lot easier."
You live in LA now. Anything you miss about Utah?
"I miss the scenery, I miss the snow on the mountains, and I miss being able to go snowboard in the winter. I miss it a lot actually. I can just see a bunch of buildings now—I miss the mountains."
Teen Beach Movie airs on Disney Channel July 19 at 6 p.m. Go to iTunes for Gray's songs "You Don't Know Anything" and "Wasted."