On the eve of his new Family Channel TV series THE NEXT STEP premiere, Show Choir Canada chatted with Lamar Johnson, an alumni member of the 2011 Show Choir Canada National Champions Wexford Gleeks. Check out what influenced Lamar the most, how show choir helped land him his big break, and his advice for aspiring actors! Make sure to catch Lamar (and 2013 Show Choir Canada National Championships host, Jordan Clark) in THE NEXT STEP on The Family Channel this spring! Congrats, Lamar!
1) Tell us about THE NEXT STEP, and what drew you to the show.
The Next Step is a reality-style drama series which follows 10 elite dancers through the world of competitive dance, with a common goal of winning the Regional Dance Competition and qualifying for Nationals – in a nut shell.
What drew me to this show is that it’s a TV series that solely focuses on DANCE. It’s not something commonly portrayed on television as much as us, as dancers, would like. Also the fact that it has a ‘reality’ twist to it automatically had me sold.
2) What was the audition process like for THE NEXT STEP?
The audition process was pretty straight forward. It was sort of like a typical dance audition. We get there, learn a combo, present the combo in groups, then have a couple of 8 counts for freestyle. Then for the acting side of things, gave each group a scenario, then asked us all to improvise and see how far we’d go with this one situation.
What I really enjoyed was the fact that the panel (director, producers, writers etc.) really wanted to get to know us on a personal level. They asked us a series of questions, then asked us to answer them to the best of our ability.
3) You were a member of Wexford Gleeks, who were Show Choir Canada’s first ever National Champions – what made you want to be a part of show choir?
What made me want to be a part of Show Choir Canada, was because it was something brand new being brought to Canada, allowing us kids with passions and aspirations to showcase our talents, all while representing our schools.
4) How did it feel to be the first ever National Champions for Show Choir Canada?
It felt amazing being part of the very first Show Choir Canada Champions. My high school, The Wexford Gleeks, had won it all, and the emotions on stage were indescribable. We worked extremely hard for the title, so it was rewarding to see our hard work paid off. It was also great to have made a legacy, and also set the bar for the contestants of the year following.
5) What were some of your favourite show choir experiences?
Some of my favourite Show Choir experiences were really getting in the gear and the work before it all happened! The non- stop rehearsals. Weekend rehearsals, after school rehearsals, lunch rehearsals, PA day rehearsals. We literally ate, slept and lived Show Choir. So that experience really stuck.. At least for me, haha. And OF COURSE, getting the title of the very first SHOW CHOIR NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!
6) THE NEXT STEP is all about dance – how important is dance and choreography to show choir performers and routines?
Dance to me, personally, is a MUST-HAVE when it comes to something being brought visually to a stage.. Period. It gives the audience and judges something visually intriguing to follow. Of course, I’m not taking away from vocals, or anything else that is judged in competitions like these. But dance gives movement and formation, and me as a viewer would dread to see something on stage which is completely stationary.
7) What did being part of Wexford Gleeks teach you about performing?
Being a part of the Wexford Gleeks taught me to leave everything backstage. All the nerves, feelings, egos and passions. Leave all of that at the door, and get on stage and convey a MESSAGE for the audience and judges to FEEL. Also, remember to BREATHE!
8) How has Wexford Gleeks and your experiences performing in high school led you to what you are doing today, how do you feel show choir has helped prepare you for where you are now?
Being able to perform in high school was probably the best thing that has happened to me. High school is a place where you generally find ‘yourself’ and who you really are as an individual. And being able to perform and do what it is I love to do, really helped me find myself not only as an individual, but as a performer.
Show Choir Canada has definitely opened my eyes to the world of.. Show Choir! Before the experience, I had never essentially been witness to all of the aspects of ‘Show Choir’ and how many talented singers, dancers and even student choreographers there were that collectively come together and create this great, big performance for the world to see. That alone inspired me to so many levels, and has really helped me prepare for where I am now.
9) What can you recommend this year’s 2013 show choirs, competing at Nationals, do to stand apart from others and claim the top title?
COMMIT, COMMIT, COMMIT. Get on that stage, and commit 110% to WHATEVER it is you are engaged in. Whether you’re in the back hitting symbols, hit those symbols like it’s the last time you will EVER hit them, and live that one moment to the fullest! That’s the only way the judges and the audience will FEEL what it is you’re doing. There’s a difference between moving an audience opposed to them just liking the performance. In my opinion, that’s the only way your team will stand out and claim the top title.
10) What advice can you give to current show choir high-schoolers looking to make their big break professionally?
Now, last, but definitely not least. My advice to current Show Choir high-schoolers looking to make their big break professionally is to be persistent and NEVER give up. Even when it feels like you’re going no where, STAY PERSISTENT. Your success will be the product of your persistence.. If you let it.
Here’s a quote I wish to share with you, and hopefully it will stick:
“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” – Bill Cosby