If you are familiar with the dance world, you have probably heard of Marissa Heart. For those of you who are not, well get used to the name because she is moving into acting and we have a feeling is soon to become a household name. Marissa has been dancing and acting for most of her life and isn’t completely new to being on-screen considering she has danced on Glee, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Voice, The American Music Awards and more, but her new film Breaking Through allows her to not only show off her dancing skills but her acting talent as well. Marissa is kind, easy-going, and passionate about everything she did. We had a blast talking with her and are excited to watch her career grow! Read our interview below.
Tell us about Breaking Through! What do you think makes it different from other dance movies?
Breaking Through, first of all, was amazing. It was such a great experience, especially with all of the cast members and all the dancing and everything! I think what makes it different from other dance films is the story line. I think the story line is very relatable and it’s very real. So a lot of viewers will relate to it more than other dance films.
That’s so cool! So, you play Tara in this film. What can you tell us about her and what do you think in particular she as a character brings to the film?
Tara is the younger sister of the lead girl’s love interest. We’re all a group. We’re a crew of five different dancers. Tara is a little ray of sunshine I think. She brings the light to the story. She does go through some darker events during the film, but overall she is a happier character who just wants everybody to be happy and just wants to fit in.
So sweet! You touched on this a little bit talking about how it’s different from other dance films, but Breaking Through seems to express the importance of having people around you who really know you and care about you as you are pursuing your dream. Why do you think this is such an important theme in the film?
I think it’s such an important theme because in real life it is important to have people around you who are going to be real and are going to be honest with you and support you regardless of what you’re going through. I know me personally I have had multiple friendships and they have not supported me in the way that I would support them, so now I have a solid group of friends and people in my life now that support me.
That is why I love the story line so much because I have truly experienced that. Since I have such a great group of people around me now it really makes career and life and relationships that much better. But I’m thankful for all those experiences, so I don’t regret any of them. It just has really made me truly appreciate my relationships.
That’s so good and a good reminder for all of us.
This is one of your first experiences in a feature film. So how is this different from your other dance and acting roles?
This was by far the biggest role that I have had acting, whether it’s on TV or film or anything. I really related and understood Tara. I feel like I am very similar to Tara. So, it was different. It never really felt like work. Seriously, we were a family. We spent basically two months together every single day, so we were just a big family and we were all comfortable around one another. We were so excited to come to set every day, no matter what the hours were. So it was cool to not feel like I’m going to work.
That’s the dream, I think, for all of us.
That is what made this experience so great for me.
As it was something new for you, what was the audition experience like for you?
I remember when I first got the script from my manager, I read the film script two or three times. I loved it! There are some scripts you can read and it’s kind of hard to get through because you don’t relate to people or you don’t particularly like the story. I liked the script right away. I went in to audition. I wasn’t really too nervous. Because Erica, the casting director, when I went in, she made it such a comfortable atmosphere and we had a really great connection. It was fun. That’s the main word I can use to describe the audition process.
I got the call back on the spot for it. Erica had me come in the next week to read for the producers and directors and everybody. Then they had us come in for the dance audition for the film. So that was fun. I had been used to auditioning for acting and dance, but to combine them both was awesome. We had the dance process and then we were going over our lines outside. After the dance audition they cut some more people and then we had a chemistry audition with everybody, which was cool. We had to read with so many different people, each different character, but it’s cool that they found a solid group that all really meshes well together.
That’s a long process, but I guess it has to be
Yeah, it was a long process but it was exciting. I think it was about a month with auditions and callbacks waiting all of that. It was cool.
Sounds like it was worth it though.
So, as a dancer who is exploring acting, what advice would you give to other dancers out there that are interested in pursuing acting as well?
I know some of my friends who are dancers who are trying to get into the acting world, but it is so different for dancers to actually be speaking instead of just talking with their bodies. I have been acting since I was little, so I’ve been used to it. I did school theater when I was little, so I am used to expressing myself, either with my body or with my voice. Basically, you just have to be open and willing to look and sound stupid, because as dancers you always want to put out what’s going to look great or what’s going to be visually cool. You want people to watch you and be like “oh wow, that’s awesome!” You don’t want to make mistakes, you don’t want look stupid or awkward doing anything, but in the acting world you’re gonna have to not be yourself, try new things, look stupid. You’re gonna just have to be open, because otherwise you’re never going to evolve into the actor you can be.
As your acting career is starting to take off, what roles are you drawn to as an actress??
I love comedy. I love watching comedy. Two of my main inspirations as actresses are Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson. They are just- like I said, you have to be willing to look stupid- but they are just so awesome to watch and they are so confident! I would love to do some comedic roles. I also love stuff like Pretty Little Liars or Gossip Girl. I love things like that. Things that can actually be relatable, but with a little twist on them.
That’s fun! You mentioned you started acting when you were a kids. Which came first- dancing or acting or all at the same time?
Dancing definitely started first. I took my first dance class when I had just turned three, so I have been dancing my whole life. That kind of led me into the acting world. I used to do all of these conventions when I was younger and I remember there was this one convention that mixed dancing, singing, and acting together. I got into acting classes through that. I took some classes in Pittsburgh where I’m from. So, acting came later but I definitely have a passion for both dancing and acting.
You mentioned who the actresses you really love are, but if you could play any character on TV or in the movies, who would it be and why?
You know who I would actually love to play? Blake Lively’s character on Gossip Girl. I love her! I think she’s a really down to earth, fun character, and she’s not overly dramatic or anything. She’s real and she’s beautiful. So, yeah, definitely Blake!
Breaking Through is available on iTunes and On Demand and the DVD will be available November 3, Or you can enter to win your own copy here.