Footloose Star Kenny Wormald Tells All!
By: Lynn Barker
Kidzworld is on the cell with the star of the kickin’ movie re-boot!
There is a new trailer out for Footloose, the upcoming re-boot of the 1980’s hit about a town that doesn’t allow dancing and the new kid who sets the local teens free to boogie, so we got the movie’s star Kenny Wormald on the cell for this early preview (movie is out in October).
20-something Kenny saw and loved the original film on video, has been dancing since age six and has burned up the stage in music videos of Christina Aguilera, Chris Brown, Nelly Furtado and others and he’s toured with Justin Timberlake and the Pussycat Dolls as well as headlining the MTV network series “Dancelife”.
Kenny is admitting he loved his prom, was teased for being a dancer most of his school-life and stuck to his guns until his buds realized, hey, dancin’ guys get some hot chicks! Grab a partner and get “Footloose!
Kidzworld: Articles are saying “This isn’t your mom and dad’s Footloose”. How is it different from the ‘80’s movie which I assume you’ve seen?
- Kenny Wormald: Oh of course. I grew up dancing. When I was 10 years old I probably saw it for the first time on VHS and I absolutely loved it. I understand why it’s such an iconic film. The difference with ours is we made it more updated. We made it “today”. There is some of the same music and new music and some of the original music is just re-mixed.
- It visits the old movie but brings on some new elements. I think it’s a great mixture. Like our director, Craig Brewer said “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. We’re not trying to change anything with the original. We’re just trying to celebrate it and bring it to a new generation and I think that’s exactly what we did.
Kidzworld: You’ve danced in a ton of music videos for everybody from Christina Aguilera to Chris Brown and Nelly Furtado and you toured with Justin Timberlake and the Pussycat Dolls. Did those experiences prepare you for a lead role in a dance-based film like this?
- Kenny: It’s all prep for this and helped build to this moment. A lot of people think I’m brand new to this world of Hollywood but I’ve actually been in L.A. for seven or eight years now. I’m so grateful for those opportunities, not only as a performer but as a human. I got to grow and learn from all of that. I danced with some artists who were just crazy and some who were very humble like Justin Timberlake who is one of the most humble, down-to-earth human beings on the planet.
Kidzworld: Did those stars actually give you advice or you just learned from observing them?
- Kenny: I got to learn from them what to do and what not to do and how I would handle myself if I became successful. Being a dancer sometimes you can stand in the background and you can watch and check everything out and some stuff I saw I was like “Eww, I don’t wanna be like that”. Then, some stuff I saw was like “That’s exactly how I want to handle myself in that situation”. So I definitely learned a lot from every experience I’ve had and it helped lead up to this for sure.
Kidzworld: Talk about working with your leading lady Julianne Hough. Were you glad they hired a dancer who can act rather than an actor who is trying to dance?
- Kenny: I loved that and, coming from the dance world, we understood each other right away. We’re both hard-working people and down to sweat and work hard. That’s something that, growing up a dancer, you just do. So, having someone like that was incredible.
- The first time we met was during a screen test and they were like “Okay, we’re gonna put on some music and see what you guys do.” We had just met and we’re like “Uh….okay” and, literally, right from that moment we became so close and great friends. Usually, when you meet someone, you have to shake their hand, sit down, have a coffee. We were like dancing, sweating and bumping into each other. It broke down that wall pretty quick. I’m really glad they picked her; a dancer who could also act instead of the other way around.
Kidzworld: Did you contribute to the choreography?
- Kenny: Luckily, we had Jamal Sims who’s an excellent choreographer. He’s done Hairspray and Step Up and choreographed for Usher. His dance knowledge is impeccable so having someone like him and someone like myself who can translate whatever he wants was a great combination but yeah, there is definitely some of my own flair and swag and movements in this movie.
Kidzworld: When you were little, did “New Kids on the Block” inspire you to be a dancer?
- Kenny: They did. I grew up in Boston and that’s where they’re from and they’re huge back home. I went to their concert when I was six years old on my birthday. We took a limo and it was the biggest deal in my life. I saw the show and it was so good and I loved it. I was dancing in the audience the whole time. People were looking at me dancing. I thought it was the best thing ever and they definitely inspired me; them and Michael Jackson definitely inspired me to get up and move.
Kidzworld: Is the kind of dancing in You Got Served for example, anything like the styles you perform in this movie? Is it a mix of dance styles?
- Kenny: The first dancing you’ll see is basically a hip hop song, a hip hop influence with movements by the locals and also a funkier feel by me. The second dance scene, we’re in a Country line dancing club out of town and we do this wonderful, cool updated, funky version of a line dance. Then there’s my solo when I’m going crazy in the factory, that’s more of a raged-out rock, street dance feel. Then, at the end, we have a piece that is kind of an homage to the original. There’s some jazz in it but it’s definitely an updated version of the finale scene. There’s elements of all sorts of dance in this.
Kidzworld: Cool! What do you consider the most romantic dance to do?
- Kenny: Julianne comes from the ballroom world and there are definitely some styles of ballroom that are romantic. I’d say some of that. I’ve never done ballroom dance and I’m intimidated by it. But the most romantic dance I’ve done is probably the slow dance when you’re at your prom.
Kidzworld: Did you go to your high school prom and dance your feet off?
- Kenny: Oh, I went! That was my moment to shine. Are you kidding me? I went to prom. I went to all the school dances and loved them. I used to get made fun of as a dancer growing up. Once school dances came around and girls wanted to dance with me and I was getting highlighted I guess you could say, all of a sudden, the guys didn’t think it was that stupid any more.
Kidzworld: Have you ever been the new guy in town like your character Ren is? How did you cope?
- Kenny: I changed schools when I was little and that’s when I got the most rap for dancing. I met a bunch of new kids and some of them I knew from playing baseball or T-ball but all the other kids who didn’t know me, found out I danced and just thought it was stupid and were reluctant to accept the fact that that’s what I wanted to do.
- Boston is kind of a hard hat city and kids are pretty rough and that definitely made me feel like an outsider but, similar to Ren in the movie, I fought for what I believed in and I would tell them to shut the hell up and I’d go to my dance class and loved it and I would forget that they were making fun of me. I wouldn’t care what they were saying because I was having a great time in this world that no one knew about.
Kidzworld: Great. The original film and this one are set in a town whose major religion prohibits dancing. Did you ever know anyone whose beliefs wouldn’t let them dance?
- Kenny: I haven’t known anyone who said what I do is wrong or sinful but we had a great conversation with the producers about how this is still relevant in today’s times and they stopped counting at a hundred cities that banned dancing and/or music and had curfews based on religion or based on something that happened in the town and then religion provoked the laws, restricting kids from doing that stuff. So it is definitely still relevant. Luckily I grew up in a town that was completely opposite and we were free to do all of those things but it’s still happening.
Kidzworld: What was the biggest challenge for you in this film?
- Kenny: There’s a big speech at the end, a big monologue where I have to prove to the town and the council that “Look, it says it even in the bible that dancing is a celebration of life” and I think that’s a big turning point for the reverend understanding why. I think that was maybe the most nerve-wracking, challenging scene that I had because it was a huge speech and a turning point in the film. That was one of the biggest mountains I had to conquer.
Kidzworld: What is the toughest dance move you ever had to perform?
- Kenny: When I danced for Christina Aguilera for the MTV Movie Awards, they said, in rehearsal, “Who can do a back flip?” I slightly raised my hand “Yeah, I can do it. I don’t want to do it but okay” and the choreographer is like “Kenny, great! Go from here to there, run across the stage and do a back flip.” “Uh oh. What did I get myself into? I’m on National television and it’s live, oh great.” I remember being so nervous for that flip and it finally came and it all worked out, thank God.
Kidzworld: If a girl wants a second date with you, what is the one thing she must never do on the first? Or, what is your pet peeve on dates?
- Kenny: My pet peeve is if they talk too much and you can’t get a single word in. That goes whether it’s a date or just a friend. That’s my big pet peeve. It’s okay if you are engaged in a conversation and it’s back and forth but it’s people who don’t care about what you’re saying and they keep chatting away about themselves. I’m like “I don’t care what you’re saying anymore.”
Kidzworld: What’s next for you?
- Kenny: We’re about to do the whole promotion tour and I’m reading scripts and going out for roles. I’ve gotten a couple of offers but nothing is set in stone yet. There will definitely be some stuff coming up. I just saw Footloose again last night in the theater and it was awesome and I’m inspired to go out and tell everyone what a great job Craig Brewer did making the film and I’m excited to show the world.