Q: You've described yourself as cripplingly shy as a child. Are you still? Do you get nervous onstage?
A: Oh, that was never an issue for me. I was really shy as a child, but it never crossed over to the stage. It was the only time in my life that I wasn't that way.
I feel like as dancers get older they tend to get more anxious and nervous. I think it just depends on the role that I'm doing. If it's a really high-pressure role, I tend to get nervous.
I don't know if I would say I'm shy anymore. But I definitely like to keep my personal life private. I have to respect myself. I feel like I give so much of myself in my career -- and I want to do that -- but you have to have something left for you.
Q: Does it feel surreal, now, to be so far on the other side of the hardships you grew up with?
A: Yeah, it absolutely does feel surreal. I'm constantly thinking of that. I don't feel like I'm jaded in any way. I am just like, "I can't believe this is my life, I can't believe I get to do what I love." It's just an amazing thing to have.
Q: Tell us about your upcoming film debut in "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms."
A: That's coming out November 2018. We're still working on the name of my character. I'm kind of a production within the production of the movie. It's like a performance that the characters are experiencing. It's me dancing, and I'm portraying all of the different scenes that happen in "The Nutcracker," the snow scene, the battle scene, the land of the sweets.
I've never been in a film. It was so, so surreal to be a part of the Disney family. I never, ever imagined I would. It was just a really incredible opportunity. It was a lot of hard work.
Dancing and film is really difficult to kind of marry because dancers have to be (warmed up). It's really difficult to sit around for hours and then get up and dance. We have to be warmed up properly. There were long days.
Q: Is it meaningful to return home?
A: Coming home, and being in Orange County, and being in that theater -- it just takes me back to that place. I saw American Ballet Theatre perform a lot when I was 13, 14, 15 years old -- in Costa Mesa at the same theater we'll perform at, as well as the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Coming to those theaters in California definitely takes me back.
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