KayCee Stroh Interview -- JustJared.com Exclusive
KayCee Stroh, best known for playing pop n’ lock Martha in the High School Musical franchise, met up with Just Jared yesterday for a sit-down interview at her NYC hotel. She is currently in town to promote the new HSM2 Deluxe Dance Edition DVD. The 24-year-old actress talks about her dreams of releasing her own music album, what it’s like to be head cheerleader and her first thoughts on Zac, Vanessa, Ashley and the rest of the HSM gang. Let’s get to it, come on everyone!
JJ: Do you read blogs? Are you on the Internet a lot?
KS: Well, I am familiar with yours but I’m really not. I try to stay away from blogs just because sometimes they can be so negative. Those are the kinds of things that will just ruin your craft or just give you so much fear in this business. I just don’t like to be online that much.
JJ: How do you keep in touch with your friends?
KS: Facebook and texting. I’m getting better with Facebook. It took me a long time because I finally got into Myspace and then they switched over to Facebook. I’m like, “Ah, geez, guys!” I’m not very techie.
(Continue reading KayCee’s interview inside…)
KayCee Stroh Interview — JustJared.com Exclusive
JJ: You went to see a few Broadway shows while in NY? Which ones did you see?
KS: We’ve seen A Tale of Two Cities, which I absolutely loved. We’ve seen a preview of 13. I thought that was so cute and I got to go backstage after and talk with the kids. The cast was kind of in shock, saying, “Oh my gosh, they’re here!” And that’s such an honor coming from these kids, especially when they’re doing something so amazing themselves. I don’t think they grasp that, yet. I’m like, “No guys, you’re amazing. You’re doing what I want to do too.” They’re great kids.
JJ: So Broadway is in your future?
KS: Definitely. And every time I fly to New York I get that sense of home, like someday I will spend some of my life there.
JJ: Do you have a favorite play or musical on Broadway?
KS: That’s tough, I’ve always been a big fan of Rent, so I was sad to hear they weren’t going to do that anymore. But luckily it’s coming to L.A.
JJ: HSM3 is a month away, how excited are you?
KS: (laughs) Very excited! I’m not only excited for the fans but for myself, because I’ve only seen bits and pieces of it and its always fun for us when we go to the premieres or when we see it. A lot of times we’re seeing it for the first times ourselves. But I’m excited to see the fans’ reactions. I think they’ll be blown away.
JJ: When do you get to start press for the film?
KS: We are actually starting this week. That’s what this whole trip is about, not only publicizing High School Muiscal 2: Dance-Along Edition (in stores now), but getting everyone geared up for number three, October 24th.
JJ: Is your character in the 3rd edition, the same pop and lock Martha from HSM2? How has her character evolved?
KS: A lot, in this movie. I’m very happy for Martha in this movie. She has grown a lot. She gets to do drum rolls and lots of percussion. She is head cheerleader in this movie and I think it’s a wonderful message that if you step out of your box and decide “I’m gonna be myself,” whether people like it or not, look how you can grow in three years. She’s like ruling the school now and not like “I’m shy! And I wanna do this…”
JJ: How did you prepare for this cheerleader role?
KS: Well, thank goodness, I did have cheering experience in the past. Because it was a last minute decision. I’m so glad I made it my varsity year because now I have something to pull from. But it was good. Ashley (Tisdale) and I were playing around a lot on set because she was a cheerleader once too. We were like, “This is a herkie right? What do we do here?”
JJ: What’s something surprising you’ve seen behind the scenes that fans wouldn’t know about?
KS: A lot of fans wouldn’t know that a lot of us do very different things in our spare time. For instance, you’d look over and see Lucas writing and directing his own stuff and making music and things like that. Corbin (Bleu), Ryne (Sanborn), and I went camping on our spare time and had a camp fire. So I think it’s very shocking because a lot of fans see us as movie stars and don’t see us as regular people doing regular people things. “Corbin’s chopping wood!,” is sort of a funny thought to them.
JJ: What’s a stand out memory of your co-stars either on or off set? What’s the first thing that pops into your head about Ashley Tisdale?
KS: I would say silly.
JJ: Lucas (Grabeel)?
JJ: Monique (Coleman)?
JJ: Zac (Efron)?
JJ: Vanessa (Hudgens)?
JJ: What was the hardest part of filming HSM3?
KS: The hardest part of filming for HSM3 was the fact that we incorporated new dancing and bigger numbers. So a lot of us had never done ballroom. And just in HSM2 we were just learning partnering, and that was already kind of a struggle. And then the move to HSM3, there was actual technical training, as far as ballroom dancing goes. And I could tell you there were a lot of toes that got stepped on! (laughs) Not to throw you underneath the bus my dear Ryan, and I love you but, there was a lot of him stepping on my toes. But it was good because we bonded. We were partnered up with our love interests and so it was good for us to work through something together because once again that chemistry showed up on screen.
JJ: Was that the hardest film to scene?
KS: I think so. Yeah, in this one, it was definitely the prom scene.
JJ: Did you have a BFF on set?
KS: I did, I love everyone and each movie’s different. But for some reason this movie, in particular, Monique and I got very close.
JJ: So I understand [director Kenny Ortega] discovered you for HSM, was there an audition process for HSM2?
KS: No, that was the beauty of it. I was called back for HSM2, which was a big moment for me and something I was excited about because I always dreamed about not having to audition for something. For an actor, that’s like “Yes!” That’s when you know you’ve made it. It was definitely one of those “scream in the pillow” moments.
JJ: Did you always want to act?
KS: I did, but I was teaching dance at the time and never knew quite how it would happen for me, living in Utah. I just didn’t know how I was going to make that transition from dancer to actress, and so when I heard about the audition, I decided it would be a great experience for my kids, who want to grow up and be dancers. And I thought, why not, I’m only 19, fresh out of high school. So when I got there I took a chance and something in my heart told me this could be it. And it was just ironic that Kenny looked at me that day and looked at my resume and said, “Oh you do have acting and singing experience as well. You’re not just a dancer.” Because he saw my high school experience stuff and he took a chance on me. I’m very blessed.
JJ: Do you have plans for after HSM3? Will you continue acting and dancing?
KS: Absolutely. I want to do an album this coming year. I’m not exactly sure what genre because I love everything. Obviously being a Utah girl, I love country and I could easily go into that, but with my dancing it’d be fun to do pop. Make music videos. That’s always been a dream of mine. And then I would love to do some dramatic acting as well. And then third on that list is that I want to try out some Broadway. I want to conquer everything. (laughs)
JJ: Going back to your album… do you write your own songs?
KS: I do, I co-write, so I have friend of mine, a close friend who writes beautiful music. His name is Chad Cannon and we are going in together to do a few songs.
JJ: What kind of role would you like to play in the future? And how would you transition from the HSM teen crowd to an older audience?
KS: You know, I would love to do something, I don’t want to say inappropriate, but a little bit shocking. I would love for people to not see me as the cute, quirky, fun Martha character because for me, I just need to challenge myself afterward. After this point, I would love to do something like “punk” girl. Something crazy like that, just so people can realize, “Hey, she can do this. It’s not just the cute character she can do.”
JJ: Obviously you’re not supermodel thin, a 50 lb. featherweight. Do you think that has caused any setbacks in your acting career?
KS: In the beginning, I was very worried. When I first moved out to LA. I thought people were going to rip me apart. “I’m going to get ripped to shreds constantly.” And I was surprised at what a positive reaction I got. And so far, I’m getting in more of a healthy range [in my weight] for me, it’s nice because it’s opening doors for me. I’m just at that weight where it’s perfect. Before when I had that knee surgery and gained a lot of weight, it was hard. It was very hard. I could only lock in certain roles and I was very angry at Hollywood. That they were all “I’m the chubby girl, make fun of me” roles. And I’ll never be that size zero skinny role. I’m getting to the point where I can play that quirky best friend, or that funny secretary. So at first, I did think the roles were very derogatory and I didn’t like them.
JJ: What’s your craziest fan encounter?
KS: There was one time during HSM2 where there was a fan that was trying to call the Toronto hotel where we were staying. And they, in their head, were telling the secretary of the hotel, “We know each other, and we’re supposed to meet in Arizona and run away together.” And she was like, “Something’s just didn’t seem right about it, so I didn’t put the phone call in your room.” So once in awhile you get freaked out, like wow, in someone’s mind, I’m their lover or something. That is just crazy and I’m going to Arizona with them. And I’ve also been followed into the bathroom to sign things and it’s just awkward moments. But they make my life so much fun, I’m not gonna complain.
JJ: How are the plans for your wedding coming along?
KS: Great! I’m so excited. I’m just planning a big beautiful winter wedding for January.
JJ: Have you picked out wedding dresses, cake, and food?
KS: Absolutely. Oh my gosh, I have this lady who’s doing my cake. Famous, famous cakes. Her company is Carrie’s Cakes. The most phenomenal cakes you’ll ever see, so I’m excited. And knowing my over-the-top personality everyone knows that it’ll be ridiculous. So it’s gonna be a square cake with five tiers, and with my beautiful wedding colors.
JJ: How did you meet your husband-to-be (Ben Higginson)?
KS: I met him at an acoustic concert in Salt Lake (Utah) when I was home visiting. So I ran into him in the VIP room. I almost didn’t go to the concert, too! We actually bumped into each other, physically. We ran into each other, and then we started talking. And so everything happens for a reason!
JJ: What does your Ben do for a living?
KS: He’s graduating in PR right now, and he has a small production company in Utah and he also does a little acting on the side.
JJ: Oh, so he’s in a similar business.
KS: Absolutely. So it’ll be perfect.
JJ: Was it love at first sight?
KS: It was. Isn’t that weird? So weird because he’s not my type… at all. But something jumped out to me. I’m like, who is this random kid? He has so much confidence and it just shocked me because most guys in Utah, when they figure out you’re somewhat successful, I think it’s very intimidating sometimes. And he was not intimidated at all, and just came up to me. I was just like, “Okay, well alright, I like that you know what you want.”
JJ: What are some of the favorite things you love to do with him?
KS: Well obviously because I’m an actress and he’s in producing, we love movies. Like ridiculous. We’ll do a few movies a day, that’s how bad it is. All of our money is going to go to movies.
JJ: Do you use NetFlix?
KS: Yeah, absolutely. So we love to cuddle up by the couch and light a fire and watch movies together. And he’s also a social butterfly, so he has me running on adventures all the time. Goodness. Up in Park City, we were jumping into hot tubs and things like that. That is so not me. I’m so good at being responsible and he’s just like “Come on!” He’s so adventurous, so it’s fun for me.
JJ: Will you two be residing in Utah, or are you moving out to LA together?
KS: He’ll be moving out to LA, because I’m already there so right now its very hard because he’s had to finish up in Utah. We haven’t seen each other for a month and a half.
JJ: I assume you enjoy cooking. What’s your favorite thing to cook?
KS: Oh, I make a mean chicken enchilada bake. I’m not gonna lie. From scratch. And I love making soup, it sounds so silly but I always feel like, a dash of this and a dash of that. I’m like, why do I feel like I’m living in Hocus Pocus or something?
JJ: What are some of your favorite TV shows that you’ve been watching?
KS: You’re gonna laugh because I’m not typical at all. I know that everyone jumps on 90210 and Gossip Girl. For me…have you heard of A Haunting (on the Discovery Channel)? It goes through different situations where people’s houses have been haunted. And then it reenacts what happened to them. I’m just really into that, I love the haunted shows… A lot of the History Channel… But I do love Desperate Housewives. That would be my trendy watch.
JJ: What do you have on your iPod right now and where do you draw your musical inspiration from?
KS: I draw a lot from Fergie. I really do admire her.
JJ: Have you met her?
KS: I have. There’s a few pictures of us on the red carpet together and you can tell in my eyes, that I’ve got that starstruck look. I do love a lot of Carrie Underwood for my country. She sings so well and I love her music. But growing up, it was Gwen Stefani.
JJ: She’s a triple threat.
KS: Exactly, and I had a little garage band where I sang Gwen Stefani songs. Hopefully there’s no footage of that out there. (laughs)
JJ: And you’re also pretty physical. You like boxing, snowboarding. Did you grow up as a sports person?
KS: Not really. I was never good at the basketball, baseball thing. I always dreaded P.E. for that. But because of dance, I’m grateful it’s made me coordinated and I can jump into things easily. But the boxing story is very funny. My neighbor in California was this big, huge boxer guy and I just ran into him one night in our garage and he was boxing. And he just said, “Hey do you want me to teach you?” And I said, absolutely, and he took me down to the store and bought me some awesome pink boxing gloves. And I was like, “This is fun! This is good exercise!” So I was learning the jump rope, I was doing the Rocky thing. I love to accept new challenges like that. And snowboarding, obviously growing up in Utah, it was just a part of what I did.
JJ: Do you go into the terrain parks and ride the half-pipes?
KS: I’m not that good, I wish I was. At one point, I could have been that good but then dancing really got serious for me as a professional and then I got nervous about it. And even more so than that, HSM came along, and I was forbidden. They were like, “You need to be safe and not break anything because you’re contracted.”
And that was my interview with the super sweet KayCee Stroh. Hope you guys enjoyed it. (: