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 Wont Love You To Death,
which dealt with his mothers heroin addiction.
Mario is now back in a big way with Season 6 of ABCs
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 hes 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 isnt the easiest thing.
Mario: I dont think people know of me as a
dancer, thats 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
Ive acquired during my career as an artist, its 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
Mario: Well, you know of course Im used to being
free and able to just kind of do freestyle, even in choreography its 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 its a lot of fun and I got a
AllHipHop.com: Karina Smirnoff – when Mario Lopez
was working with her hed always say how she would yell at him to get in shape.
Is she really as demanding as they say?
Mario: She is. I dont think she ever wants to
lose. Its a win-win situation for the both of us if we pulled it off. When Im
goofing around and not taking it serious, shes taking it extra serious.
Sometimes she is a little feisty, shes 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 didnt
take it serious enough, but now Im 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. Whats the difference
for you, being in a movie thats more youthful and fun, and something like Freedom Writers thats more emotional?
Mario: I guess its more mentally draining,
especially to do a film thats a true story, and not only is it a story about
kids living here in America, but its 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 didnt take acting lessons
before that, so what did you learn from the veteran actors that you worked
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 its 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. Its a fun time, but you have to be ready for it, so before I do my next
film Ill definitely take some classes for sure to make sure Im 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 its more fun and chipper.
AllHipHop.com: In this movie Destination Fame that you have coming up, it looks like its a
little bit of a Fame inspired movie
Mario: Theyve been trying to bring that movie
out for years, I forget how old I was when I did that, but I was significantly
AllHipHop.com: Theres 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
its something I want to do, but I havent started anything yet. Its 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 theyre supposed to.
Great Debaters I loved that
film, its an amazing film. I think it was a great inspirational film to learn
more about yourself, history, and your ancestors. Its one of those films where
you realize sometimes you waste a lot of time and dont make good use of your
time. That was one of those films that made me realize how important time was,
not that I didnt 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?
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 wouldnt 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. Im actually a partner in the production team, so
definitely scoring would be great. We havent 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
Find out more about Mario on his official
site at: mario2u.com