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Mario: Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow

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Since his first hit single in 2002, Mario Barrett has been doing what it takes to ensure his longevity in show business. As his

music career flourishes, he is taking on acting and has plans to create his own

film production company.

 

To the delight of his fans, Mario recently flexed

his acting abilities in the movies Step

Up (2006) and Freedom Writers

(2007). He also shared his own very personal experiences on the 2007 MTV

special I Won’t Love You To Death,

which dealt with his mother’s heroin addiction.  

 

Mario is now back in a big way with Season 6 of ABC’s

increasingly popular show Dancing With

The Stars, partnered with world champion dancer Karina Smirnoff. With eliminations already in process, Mario is

vowing to take his role in the competition very seriously. We talked to him

about the challenges of ballroom dancing, his take on movies that inspire him,

and the most important lessons he’s learned thus far in Hollywood.   

 

AllHipHop.com: You came out on Dancing With The Stars and made the Cha Cha

Cha look absolutely effortless…

 

Mario: You liked it? You enjoyed it?

 

AllHipHop.com: I did, I thought it was really

nice. I think a lot of people know of you as a dancer, but transitioning to

ballroom dancing isn’t the easiest thing.

 

Mario: I don’t think people know of me as a

dancer, that’s funny that you say that. I think people know of me [and I

consider myself] a singer first and a dancer second. Dancing is something that

I’ve acquired during my career as an artist, it’s something that I felt like I

needed to do. This is new for me definitely, but thank you for the compliment.

 

AllHipHop.com : [Did] your natural ability to

dance cause any challenges with learning the technical steps of ballroom

dancing?

 

Mario: Well, you know of course I’m used to being

free and able to just kind of do freestyle, even in choreography it’s not so

formal, strategic and by the book. But ballroom dancing is a different type of

culture. I took to it pretty easy the first week, and then when we started

doing all of the moves and putting all of the steps together, then it started

getting really difficult. But for the most part it’s a lot of fun and I got a

good teacher.

 

AllHipHop.com: Karina Smirnoff – when Mario Lopez

was working with her he’d always say how she would yell at him to get in shape.

Is she really as demanding as they say?

 

Mario: She is. I don’t think she ever wants to

lose. It’s a win-win situation for the both of us if we pulled it off. When I’m

goofing around and not taking it serious, she’s taking it extra serious.

Sometimes she is a little feisty, she’s like hot and cold and like sugar and

spice.  But especially with me [you gotta be that way], you gotta remind

me how important it is.

 

For instance, Len [Goodman] called out my

footwork, how it was a little off and could have been better with the footwork

situation. [Karina] would do it the same way in rehearsal, and I guess I didn’t

take it serious enough, but now I’m definitely gonna take heed to the things

that she says.

MARIO’S FIRST WEEK ON DANCING WITH THE STARS (3/17/08)

 

AllHipHop.com: You were in the dance movie Step It Up and also in the drama Freedom Writers. What’s the difference

for you, being in a movie that’s more youthful and fun, and something like Freedom Writers that’s more emotional?

 

Mario: I guess it’s more mentally draining,

especially to do a film that’s a true story, and not only is it a story about

kids living here in America, but it’s also about the lives of the Jews in the Holocaust,

what happened back then and just those memories coming back again. It was a

very mentally draining film, and I pulled from personal experiences too so it

was really draining for me – but at the same time it was a great learning

experience and I enjoyed working with the cast. We were making something that

at the end of the day was beautiful.

 

AllHipHop.com: You didn’t take acting lessons

before that, so what did you learn from the veteran actors that you worked

with?

 

Mario: Really, [I learned] that I had a lot to

learn… just how serious acting is and how it can ultimately help you learn so

much about yourself. Your strengths, weaknesses and how far you can push

yourself. Acting is therapeutic to me, and it’s a lot to learn. Another thing I

learned from it was patience, because shooting a film…I thought shooting a

video was long, but shooting a video from so many angles and shots could take

hours. It’s a fun time, but you have to be ready for it, so before I do my next

film I’ll definitely take some classes for sure to make sure I’m prepared.

 

AllHipHop.com: [Are you] crossing over your

acting into Dancing With The Stars? [Ballroom

dancing] is very theatrical…

 

Mario: Every dance has a characteristic. Cha Cha

was more flirtatious where the guy chases the woman and the woman is playing

hard to get. The next dance is a Quick Step, where it’s more fun and chipper.

 

AllHipHop.com: In this movie Destination Fame that you have coming up, it looks like it’s a

little bit of a Fame inspired movie…

 

Mario: They’ve been trying to bring that movie

out for years, I forget how old I was when I did that, but I was significantly

younger.

 

AllHipHop.com: There’s been a rumor that you

wanted to start your own film production company. Is that still in the works?

 

Mario: I talk about that all the time. Of course

it’s something I want to do, but I haven’t started anything yet. It’s still just

a dream of mine and an aspiration of mine, but absolutely to be able to create

whatever type of film that I want to, and be able to help other beginning

actors get on their feet and that type of thing I would love to. For sure,

films are great. I Am Legend changed

my life. That film is amazing. You ever saw a film that you leave the movie

theater feeling like you have a new way of looking at life? Maybe not you but

me – films get to me like that.  I think they’re supposed to.

 

The

Great Debaters… I loved that

film, it’s an amazing film. I think it was a great inspirational film to learn

more about yourself, history, and your ancestors. It’s one of those films where

you realize sometimes you waste a lot of time and don’t make good use of your

time. That was one of those films that made me realize how important time was,

not that I didn’t understand it, but to reinforce that thought.

 

AllHipHop.com: As a film producer if you could go

back and recreate any film, what would it be?

 

Mario: Jurassic

Park, the first one. I saw it on the plane the other day and I was going

nuts. We got another film out like that now, 10,000 B.C.  But Jurassic

Park was such a classic because it could have been real – it could be

happening right now and we wouldn’t know about it.

 

AllHipHop.com: You like scary movies…

 

Mario: Oh yeah, I like scary movies. Science

fiction… I like stuff like Saw too.

 

AllHipHop.com: As far as your music production

goes, is your team Knightwritaz looking to do any scoring for film or TV?

 

Mario: Oh my God, of course! Oak is the premiere

producer in the Knightwritaz. I’m actually a partner in the production team, so

definitely scoring would be great. We haven’t had the opportunity to do that

yet, but there [have been] talks about different films that we could possibly

become a part of. I would love to.

 

Can Mario and Karina win over judges Len

Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli? Find out Monday nights at 8:00pm

on ABC! Click here to vote for Mario and Karina

 Find out more about Mario on his official

site at: mario2u.com

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