Exclusive Interview with Center Stage: On Pointe’s Rachele Brooke Smith
Sometimes in life, we plan for one type of future but life throws us a curveball tossing us down a direction we never expected to go. Rachele Brooke Smith found herself in that kind of a situation. Growing up she wanted nothing more than to be a gymnast. An injury to her hand cut her career short. Instead of feeling bad for herself she carved out a new path. Through dancing and acting, she has found a new passion. One that is starting to gain traction. With new movies under her belt like “The Nice Guys” starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and the upcoming “Center Stage: On Pointe,” she is starting to make a splash in the industry.
I recently had the pleasure of talking to Rachele. Keep reading to see what she had to say.
Could you introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Rachele Brooke Smith and I am an actress who is super and slightly obsessed with the power of storytelling, creativity, and disruptive thinking. I want to create positive change in our own lives and the world around us.
You have several movies coming out this year. How do you choose the projects you work on?
I’m just so grateful for the films that I have coming out soon. I’ve worked really hard. I mean I’ve worked hard all my life, but especially over the past couple years. I’ve worked on several amazing films that have all been dreams come true. I really believe that it’s because I am brave enough to say what it is that I want. What kind of roles I want. And not just say it, but I put pictures on my wall and visualize it happening every day.
At every meeting with producers and directors that I go to, I say “This is what I want. This is what I’m really good at. This is the type of film and character I want to do next.” I think sometimes it’s really hard to be able to be that brave and say, “I know what it is that I want and I’m not scared to say that I want it.” Every project/film that I’ve gotten is a true example of that.
My film “Center Stage: On Pointe” (Center Stage 3) comes out June 25th. I’m just beyond excited about it! I played the lead in “Center Stage: Turn it Up” which was the sequel to “Center Stage”. That role was just a childhood dream come true. I grew up a very competitive gymnast and I went through a really hard time after breaking my hand and having surgery. It was very sad. It just flipped my whole life upside down after I quit, because I no longer had any sort of goal or dream.
I saw “Center Stage” then. It was the first “Center Stage” that came out and I’ll never forget that moment. I was in the theater and I felt so inspired by that film. I had goosebumps (laughs). I couldn’t even move and I didn’t even want to move. Everybody had left the theater and I just sat there by myself. I just visualized myself being Jody who I saw up on that screen. She was dancing and acting and I said, “That is what I want to do with my life.” That film really changed my life.
To make a very long story short I auditioned for a program in Los Angeles at The Performing Arts Studio. I was 18, right out of high school and I got in. I had two weeks to move to L.A. I didn’t know anybody and I was scared out of my mind (laughs). It was one of the hardest and best things that I’ve ever done. I did that eight hours a day, six days a week. I was just acting, dancing and singing. I couldn’t work for that whole year so I would watch “Center Stage” all the time. It would help me remember what my goal was and how I wanted to be Jody (Amanda Schull) in the film. I wanted to be able to inspire people like Jody inspired me.
When I finished the program, I was able to start working and auditioning. I had an agent, but I was actually discouraged at first. I signed with a really great dance agency and they turned me down for work because I hadn’t done anything yet. So I was really discouraged and I debated going back to the program when I saw a casting call on the wall for “Center Stage: Turn It Up” (# 2). They were having auditions for the lead girl. My heart just dropped and I was like “AHHHHHH this can’t be happening! This is crazy.”
I’ll never forget that moment, being in my house and looking in the mirror. I was trying to justify all the reasons why I shouldn’t go, but I just felt this voice that was like “You have to go”. I ended up going in six different times for that movie. It was this roller coaster of emotions because I was so close to my childhood dream. I got the role (Kate Parker, the lead) and that changed my life! So to be able to come back again years later and play the same character, Kate, in the third film is incredible!
I’ve built my whole brand and company, UNBREAKABLE Productions, off of that story. In hopes of inspiring young people to believe in the power of goals and dreams. To get back up again when things are really hard. To believe that you can do really great things with your life. I just want to be an inspiration to anybody that is going through a hard time or feels discouraged because things aren’t going the way that they want them to in their journey of achieving their goals and dreams. If you stay unbreakable and you get back up again, you get stronger. You work every day to get stronger mentally, physically and emotionally that you can do it. You can live a really great and awesome life that you love and it’ll make you feel really good about yourself.
My next film is coming out on July 24th . It’s a shark movie that’s going to be on Syfy. It’s going to kick off Shark Week. I’m so excited about that role because I’ve been saying for so long that I wanted to play an action character. I want to be the bad ass/kick ass girl. I got into martial arts a while ago and I’ve had this obsession with fighting ever since (laughs). Growing up a gymnast and a dancer that’s kind of the next thing. It’s the next step. So in this film, that’s what happened. The script actually just fell in my lap and I got offered the role. We shot it in Puerto Rico for a couple of months and I still have battle scars left from it (laughs). I did all my own stunts and there are some really cool fight scenes that I got to do. It’s all filmed on the water, on these big boats. It’s such a great film and I love my character a lot in that movie.
I also have “Cold Moon” coming out in October. I play another type of character that fit my strengths. I just felt like I came alive when I was playing Belinda Hale, a Southern character. I’m not from the South. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona but I love Belinda. “Cold Moon” is a suspense thriller and Belinda is just like this light in the film. Everything else is super suspenseful and dark, so she’s the comedic relief. I got to work with Christopher Lloyd on it which is a huge dream come true. I grew up watching him in “Back to the Future” and “Angels in the Outfield”. I just can not wait for people to see that movie. I think it will blow a lot of people away.
“Chalk it Up” is a gymnastics movie. It was just really fun to get to play a gymnast again. We don’t have a release date on that but I’m really excited about it. And I’m actually working on a film now in Texas. It’s called “Bomb City”. It’s a true story and it’s a very inspirational film. It’s been very cool to work in Texas where it happened and to meet some of the real people. I think it’s going to be a very impactful film and hopefully, help change the way people view and treat those that look different than they do. I just love that. Like I said earlier, I just believe in the power of filmmaking and storytelling. I believe it can change lives and make us better people.
Sometimes the films I do are to just entertain and uplift people. I think that’s something that is very necessary for our lives. I love doing films that make people think and question the way that they are living their lives so they can change things for the better.
You’re also in the new movie “The Nice Guys” with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. What was it like working with them?
Oh my goodness I loved it (laughs). I’ve been a big Ryan Gosling fan for a long time. Obviously, everybody loves him, especially woman because he’s very attractive, but I just think he’s such a talented actor. The choices that he makes and the characters that he chooses are so different a bit risky, so I really admire that. One of my favorite things about working with him was learning that he is who you would think him to be. He’s just so nice to everybody and very grounded and humble. When I was working with him on set he just worked so hard and is so passionate about what he does. I really love that. Sometimes you look up to people or admire people in the industry and you’re not so pleasantly surprised. I just love it when I am.
I also loved working with Joel Silver. He is one of the best producers and has done so many films. We had this bonding moment one night at dinner (laughs). I was eating dinner in the trailers with Joel and Shane Black (who is one of my favorite directors) when Joel said, “I know you’re gonna be super successful at this. You just keep going and keep believing and absolutely everything you want will happen for you”. It was one of those moments in life where I really just decided to sit there and take that in. As an actress, it can get really hard sometimes because you come really close to roles and then don’t get them. It’s hard to get used to that rejection.
You are reprising your role as Kate Parker in “Center Stage: On Pointe”. What can we expect to see from Kate in this new installment of the “Center Stage” franchise?
You can expect a really great film. That is for sure. I’m really excited for everybody to see this movie. It was so special for me to get to come back as Kate Parker. This movie is really about my little sister, Bella Parker. It was so cool! Nicole Muñoz and I hadn’t seen each other in a really long time. She played Bella years ago. So to get to see each other again and reminisce seven years later was wonderful. Seeing the “Center Stage” family again was so special. I loved seeing Peter Gallagher, Ethan Stiefel, etc.
“Center Stage: On Pointe” just mirrored my real life so much. It mirrored my relationship with my real little sister. I wondered if the writers had been following me around with a camera without me knowing because I was just like “how did you guys know this stuff about my real life?” (laughs). It was just really special for me and I’m just so grateful to get to be a part of this whole “Center Stage” journey.
In “Chalk It Up” the team is comprised of a bunch of misfit gymnasts. Can you describe your character to our readers?
That film was so fun to do because I got to work with one of my best friends, Nikki SooHoo. We met on “Bring It On: Fight to the Finish”. We actually played enemies in that film, but we are now the best of friends and we do everything together (laughs). She’s actually going to be in the shark movie as well, that’s on Syfy. So this is our third film that we got to work on together. It’s just been so special for both of us. I am so excited for Maddy Curley who wrote it, starred in it and produced it. Chalk It Up” is the unofficial sequel to “Stick It”.
My character Angelina is just a feisty girl (laughs). It was really cool to get back in the gym again and to work on all my old tricks that I did when I was younger. I just have such respect for gymnasts. It’s just incredible. Unless you have been a gymnast I don’t think anybody knows how intense it gets. Getting back up on a high beam or on the bars was hard! (laughs) Hopefully making “Chalk It Up” will help gymnasts get respect. It’s a really fun film and I really loved playing this character a lot.
You are trained in quite a few styles of dance. Is there one particular style of dance that tugs at your heart more than the others?
At the fellowship program, we had to do all different kinds of dance every day and it was so hard. I grew up not liking ballet at all. I was not a ballerina what so ever (laughs). But when I did the fellowship program I had to do ballet every single day and at first, I hated it, but I really grew to love it because it made all my other styles of dancing so much better. I love and favor hip-hop. I feel like I really come alive doing it. Obviously, there are tons of different styles of hip-hop, so in “Center Stage: On Pointe” you’ll see that I had to do a lot of ballet and hip-hop. I also had to salsa, tango and break dance (laughs). I really think that’s one of the reasons why I was able to get that role. I worked so hard to be so versatile in so many different things. There’s just not a lot of girls who can do ballet and flips and break dance and crazy hip-hop moves. So I would really encourage young dancers and actors to work to be as versatile as possible.
How do you feel dance has prepared you for acting?
I think it’s just the best preparation! I’m going to dance my whole life. I wanna be the 80-year-old in the dance room (laughs). In the competitive dance world, dance can get very judgmental and very cutthroat but dance as an art form is so freeing and so good for your body and your brain. I like to encourage everybody to dance. I mean it’s one of the first things I do every day. I turn on music and I do a little wake-up dance party in my room. It changes the way that you feel. When you put on music and you just start moving, regardless of what it looks like, it has such an effect on your mentality and your energy and your positivity in life.
When I prepare for characters, I start there because that opens up my body and my mind to a place that’s really creative and fun. Even when I’m working online I’ll always be moving. I’ll always be rocking because when you’re moving you’re getting blood to your brain and you have more oxygen in your muscles. So your body can think better and you can create better. I really use music and movement to create characters. I can’t say enough about dance. I LOVE it! I feel it. If I don’t do it every day, I can feel there is a piece of me that’s missing.
You are involved in quite a few charities. Is there one that is especially close to your heart?
Yes! There’s a charity aspect to UNBREAKABLE called Unbreakable Dreams. I have a video on my website that tells people “Send me your videos, send me your stories of what you’re working on. What your goals and dreams are, etc”. I want to pick at least one person every quarter and help make their video a reality in a really fun, creative way. I really believe in helping people who already know what they want. They’re what I call ‘living the unbreakable philosophy.’ They have dreams and are working to get stronger every day mentally, physically, and emotionally. I want to help those people create and live their dreams.
I’ve done it a couple of times and I’m so connected with the people who I’ve helped. It’s so fulfilling. It’s just so amazing to watch the transformation that happens when people get a little bit of guidance and a little bit of help. If I can be a part of helping somebody’s dream come true that’s what makes me so happy.
We at TNWU all have something nerdy/geeky about us. What is something nerdy or geeky about you?
I love this question. I’m just like the biggest nerd (laughs). I don’t think people expect that from me, but I really am at heart. I’m just such a nerd and I love celebrating that part of myself. I think that’s the next part I want to play, the nerdy character.
For starters, I never wear matching socks (laughs). I have this thing about me and it’s weird and it’s different and people make fun of it all the time but it’s my thing. I don’t like wearing matching socks. That’s definitely one thing. The other thing is that I really love old school music. I really love 80’s music and just jamming out to Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and Britney Spears. I mean like old school Britney Spears. I think that’s something that people wouldn’t know about me that is probably a little nerdy.
Where can you find Rachele Brooke Smith:
Center Stage: On Pointe will air on June 25, 2016, on Lifetime.