Christina Grady, a south-county native, has gone on to a career dancing in Hollywood, snaring gigs with some of the heavyweights of Top 40. She's a woman of many interests: She was offered a scholarship to study medicine and is now starting to work on a singing career. We talked to Grady about what it takes to make it in this week's print edition; below are a few stories from her biggest gigs.
Katie Moulton: Did you ever dream about doing anything but dancing?
Christina Grady: I was actually given a scholarship to SLU with the idea of studying medicine, but I turned it down. I always knew I was born to entertain, and I wouldn't be happy doing anything else.
Still, I completed my associate's degree in St. Louis because education is important. Most dancers think dance is going to magically cover them the rest of their lives, but it's a short-lived career. You have to look the part if you're on television all the time, and you don't look young forever. Your body won't be able to do the same things it does now.
That's why I've never considered myself to be just a dancer, and I'm branching out, doing my own acting and music.
When did you move to LA, and what was your big break?
I moved to LA in 2006 when I was twenty, with money from scholarships I won from a dance convention, and a whole lot of money I had saved while living, working and studying in St. Louis. I didn't know anyone but a few choreographers I had networked with at dance conventions.
I had to do it the hard way -- training constantly and trying to meet people, going to every single audition. Soon I started getting noticed by directors and choreographers. I came from the ground-up. My first big gig was a video for Raven Simone, then I booked Avril Lavigne's world tour, and things started rolling.
What have been your one or two favorite jobs, favorite artists to work with and why?
Definitely Gaga, she's so inspiring. She has what entertainment has been lacking since Michael [Jackson] and Prince were at the top. I'm a rock & roll chick at heart, and she has that It. For all the people who bash her for being over-the-top or taking her messages for negativity -- she is the smartest person I've met in the business. Her knowledge of fashion and music history is amazing.
Performing ["Paparazzi"] with her on Saturday Night Live was one of my favorite gigs. She had just come off an overseas flight, but she still had on this crazy outfit and sat down and literally composed the piano and band arrangement for the debut performance of "Bad Romance" right there in front os us -- in ten minutes.
She's a totally normal person -- you can have a conversation with her about baseball -- but she maintains that mystery, that star quality. She comes down to earth, but she's always in character. She's always Lady Gaga.
You danced one-on-one with P. Diddy on American Idol. What was that like?
Diddy is actually a great guy to work with, an amazing businessman who knows what he's doing. Everybody thinks he's a jerk, and he has his "Diddy moments," but I was treated with the utmost respect. He's super-professional, but then I walked out of there with even more respect for him after seeing him with his kids on set.
Will.i.am was also brilliant. It's a crazy lifestyle, and he could walk in, get taken through the steps once and completely nail the whole number, where it would take other people weeks to get it.