By Mitchell Kuga
As he willing to audition for the role of Jake Tailor, the straight fancy ardour in the arrival-of-age dance comedy Work It, Keiynan Lonsdale did one thing surprising: He requested to learn for a portion previously written for a girl as a replacement. There became once one thing alluring about the queen bee of the Wood Vivid High College dance team, who embodied a trope of Mean Ladies wickedness he wanted to flip on its head. “I’ve by no components viewed a man play this role sooner than, a ordinary villain on this capability,” says Lonsdale, noting that director Laura Terruso and the movie’s producers (which contains Alicia Keys) had been “fully open” to the swap. Fragment of the appeal became once playing mistaken, a departure from the suitable-guy roles he’d explored in motion images love Admire, Simon, whereby Lonsdale performed the candy-faced fancy ardour, or the superhero sidekick in CW’s The Flash. “I also primarily strive to be a nice dude in my lifestyles,” says the 28-year-worn Aussie over Zoom, every week sooner than Work It’s August 8 Netflix free up. “So I wished to unleash the dragon.”
What emerged is Isaiah, the hearth-respiratory leader of the Thunderbirds dance team who goes by Juilliard now, a title-swap he hopes will manifest an acceptance letter to his dream college. Performed by a red-haired Lonsdale with a pinch of camp expressed most pointedly by a white feathered dance ensemble, he’s conniving and singular in his ambition to assist the considerable performing arts conservatory — although it components destroying the hopes of protagonist Quinn Ackerman, the overachieving fabricate-gooder with two left feet, performed by Sabrina Wood employee. After Juilliard rejects her from the Thunderbirds, Quinn forms her personal rival team, a ragtag crew of high college misfits, along side Quinn’s sexy simplest friend, Jasmine, performed by YouTube vital particular person Liza Koshy. Backstabbing, a budding romance, and schoolyard dance-offs ensue, with all roads ensuing in the Work It dance competition.
Lonsdale spoke to MTV Files from Sydney, where he’s been quarantining for the closing two months. Creatively, he’s the utilization of the time to work on visuals for Rainbow Boy, his debut LP that he launched in May well. (On the horn-studded breakout single “Homosexual Avenue Fighter,” he channels some of Julliard’s over-the-high bravado: “Wager they wanna taste the bussy so appropriate.”) But quarantine has mostly been a components to recenter, the longest Lonsdale’s been home since he moved to the US virtually seven years ago to pursue acting. “In hundreds of ways, after I became once living [in Sydney] I wasn’t joyful with who I’m,” he says, describing the closing two months as a project of “reconnection” —along side taking dance lessons at the studio where he aged to coach. To his surprise, hundreds of his college students are truly adults, pursuing their needs in ways in which personal Lonsdale with pleasure. “It be chilly to gape your friends hasten for what they desire.”
Elly Dassas / Netflix
MTV Files: You studied dance at a performing arts high college and performed a dance scholar in the Australian television drama Dance Academy; did playing Juilliard feel love déjà vu in some ways?
Keiynan Lonsdale: It became once stunning to be in a single other dance manufacturing and the camaraderie indubitably mirrored that. There’s one thing about continuously sweating with other folks, you make a fun bond. But in Dance Academy, my character, Ollie, wasn’t very comedic. He became once very serious. It became once my first TV role, and it became once all ballet-focused for the huge majority of it. Each and every characters had considerable egos, however with Work It there became once rather more sass.
MTV Files: Used to be Juilliard impressed by anybody you went to varsity with?
Lonsdale: We by no components had one particular person at my college who became once the discontinuance bully, however we had our sparkling half of drama and fun, and we had been all tiny divas in some components. So I pulled from assorted other folks; generally teachers, generally assorted other folks I’d meet at dance competitions. Not necessarily by components of the meanness Juilliard has, however fair that hearth.
MTV Files: Used to be there situation for you to inject your personal vogue or choreography into the dance numbers, or became once it reasonably self-discipline?
Lonsdale: The routines had been reasonably self-discipline however there had been hundreds of moments where Aakomon Jones, our choreographer (Pitch Preferrred, Sunless Panther), allowed Julliard to comprise his aptitude. They’d fair allow me to freestyle or experiment, furious about whatever became once going to suit on my physique. But even in these moments, I did desire to function certain that I wasn’t adding in Keiynan, that I’d unruffled save it in the vein of what Juilliard would fabricate, how Juilliard is dancing. It became once fun to bounce as any individual else.
MTV Files: I seen some vogueing parts in the freestyle.
Lonsdale: Yeah, in the fight scene. That became once the truth is huge because I have not accomplished hundreds of vogueing. In college, we had it every so ceaselessly, and I became once exposed to so considerable of it over the route of my lifestyles, however it became once the principle time in particular person having these form of moves and intentions damaged down for me. I take into accout feeling stopped in my tracks because, energetically, I became once love, I collect it. I the truth is collect it. Not by components of getting perfect lines — there became once hundreds of labor I wished to manufacture — however by components of the attitude and the plot. It be a clear artwork make.
MTV Files: I love that you primarily created this ordinary character for yourself out of a female role. Since popping out, fabricate you raze up either pursuing assorted characters or being equipped assorted roles than sooner than?
Lonsdale: I deem it is opened issues up, for certain. But I feel love I have been very fortunate in an effort to transfer for an array of assorted characters. It hasn’t been limiting in any components — and even in some ways it has and I don’t to find out about it. I’m now not furious by that. Our reports comprise long previous untold for see you later. It be the truth is thrilling to gape the complete assorted areas we collect to transfer now. That goes to avoid losing increasing, and it’s fair chilly to be a portion of that.
MTV Files: Is there a ordinary character you are hungering to play that doesn’t exist but?
Lonsdale: It would be huge, sooner or later, to explore or be portion of a ordinary superhero crew. Beautiful love, you perceive, a few of the perfect and baddest avid gamers in the sport. That is at risk of be the truth is fun. I’d also take to function my personal characters, whether that’s in my music or my lifestyles. One thing with the capability to slay stereotypes while now not doing away with from the character’s authenticity is chilly with me. Also, the rest that goes to shock a number of other folks, because reasonably a range of oldsters have not been exposed to what ordinary culture the truth is is, and I deem they’ve bought loads to learn from it. They’d be a few of the excellent roles ever, a few of the excellent reports ever. There’s going to be a wealth of them.
MTV Files: Coming from Australia, has the Sunless Lives Topic scuttle modified the vogue you imagine about your work or the change, primarily?
Lonsdale: I first got right here to The United States in 2014 and it became once the principle time I had heard of it. I became once in Atlanta so, coming from Australia, it became once the principle time I became once surrounded by so many of us that looked love me in my lifestyles. The total lot began altering for me then. Even working on The Flash and having my solid family, Jessie Martin and Candice Patton, that grew to change into the type of hub of an training for me — a Sunless training, and an African-American one, more namely. For me, increasing up in Australia, it became once fair assorted. I hear other folks in The United States tell they weren’t taught loads about the actual fact and I deem, successfully, we didn’t even collect a quarter of that files in Australia. So, for my music, I made very acutely conscious choices with the lyrics I selected, working with the forms of of us that comprise the suitable intentions. It’s in the choices I’ve made with movie and TV. It be at the forefront.
MTV Files: When did you perceive you had been eager about dancing?
Lonsdale: Dancing will repeatedly be my first ardour. I became once born into it, you perceive? I started in the lounge as soon as I might well well per chance stand. I became once, love, two years worn, the youngest of six, and tried to transfer to bounce lessons, however I became once too unnerved. I didn’t return except I became once four and became once on stage since I became once five. I fair wished to be on stage dancing, continuously. I didn’t the truth is know guidelines on how to talk with other folks, I fair knew guidelines on how to bounce. So that became once it. I became once born loving it.
MTV Files: So that you had been the variety who became once dapper unnerved backstage however, once to accumulate on stage, it became once an fully assorted Keiynan?
Lonsdale: I didn’t know guidelines on how to learn about other folks in the look after I became once a toddler. I walked spherical love this for years [puts face down] fair terrified, however then I might well well per chance collect on stage in my sparkly jacket, love, [raises arms in the air triumphantly]. I might well well per chance give it my all and then I might well well per chance change into terrified again after I purchased off stage. At closing, my mom had to desire out a tactic to gather me over my fears, so she became once love, “You might well well now not be in a situation to bounce anymore even as you do not starting up talking to other folks and taking a learn about at other folks.” And so I stop dancing for a number of months because I might well well per chance reasonably fair now not learn about at anybody. I became once also getting bullied at faculty because I became once a boy dancing and all that stuff. And then, at closing, I might well not resist. I went encourage to [dancing] and made the deal. Started talking to other folks. Started taking a learn about up more. So thanks, Mom.
MTV Files: Circling encourage to Work It: Is there any one message you wish audiences to make a decision on far from this movie?
Lonsdale: I desire other folks to bounce, you perceive? This lifestyles is crazy. I desire other folks to bounce. Dance is the component that brings me encourage to a sense of normality, a sense of energy that I on the total put out of your mind I comprise, and readability. Even even as you do not deem you’re the excellent, even even as you do not deem that you might well per chance perhaps comprise any rhythm, all people has rhythm. It be in human nature. You fair comprise to search out that situation where it is fair you and your favorite tracks. It be only a matter of connecting to it. I feel love this movie will fabricate this for of us. I deem dancing changes your lifestyles and it creates a crew, as you take a look at in the movie, of misfits. But the truth is I deem dancers are the excellent sane other folks on the earth.