High School Musical 3 star KayCee Stroh tells us how she turned her cheer days into a full-blown acting career.
You’ve seen her dancing and singing her way through the hallways alongside Disney stars Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale. But how much do you really know about up-and-coming actress KayCee Stroh? Well, take out your pen and paper, because you’re about to get a crash course in what puts the pep in this newcomer’s step.
In the past two High School Musical movies, the role of Martha Cox has been a small one compared to the other six main characters—but that’s all about to change. In fact, it was KayCee’s real-life experiences as a cheerleader at Olympus HS in Salt Lake City, UT, that caused director Kenny Ortega to take notice and place her center stage in High School Musical 3.
KayCee took a break from shaking her poms in front of the camera to give us the scoop on how she went from high school cheerleader to High School Musical head cheerleader. Take notes—there just may be a pop quiz later.
AC: So, your character Martha Cox is back in the third HSM movie! How did it feel to be invited back?
KCS: In the first movie I had a wonderful little cameo, and when I was called back for the second film, I was so excited. There was enough fan base and excitement about my character that they brought me back for the third movie and made the role even bigger.
AC: We heard that Kenny Ortega developed your storyline in HSM 3 around your own high school experiences. How did that happen?
KCS: One day during rehearsal Kenny was watching the cheerleaders and then came up to me and said, “KayCee, I just had an epiphany. I really think it’s important for Martha to be head cheerleader.”
I was so excited, but we were already three weeks into rehearsals and the girls already knew all their dances and cheers. I was thrown into it late, but I love a good challenge.
Kenny thought it would be such an awesome message for all girls that no matter your shape, size or color, you can totally blossom over time. In the first movie, Martha was a shy brainiac, and by the third movie she’s grown into her confidence so much that she’s ruling the school. And let’s face it: Cheerleaders really are the leaders of the school.
AC: So Kenny’s a fan of cheerleaders?
KCS: Absolutely. The cheerleaders are actually a huge part of our opening scene—they open the movie. I think that shows how much respect he has for cheerleaders and that he realizes they’re really important for the energy and vibe of a number.
AC: In HSM3, Martha becomes captain of the cheer squad. What was your time as a cheerleader like?
KCS: It’s funny because my cheer experience kind of mirrors Martha’s. I always wanted to cheer, but I was so busy growing up because I was dancing, singing and participating in drama.
So, before my senior year at Olympus HS, I finally decided to tryout. All the other girls had been cheering for years, but I thought, “I just want to take a shot at it.” It was the one thing I hadn’t conquered, and it had always been a dream of mine to be a cheerleader. I went into the tryouts completely out of my element.
AC: What was it about cheer that made you fall in love with it?
KCS: There was an incident where our team was losing a really important game against our rivals and the whole football team looked over to us at one point. We just started screaming and cheering them on and they fed off that energy. I love being able to root on your team and know that you’re making a difference.
AC: So you must have been psyched to get to relive your cheer days in this movie.
KCS: I can honestly tell you I never thought I’d be back in a cheer skirt, but it’s been neat to reprise that role.
AC: And your co-star Ashley Tisdale was a cheerleader, too. Did you guys bond over your cheer pasts?
KCS: We did! In rehearsals we were joking about the different things our squads did, and Kenny looked over at one point and Ashley and I were jumping around and doing Herkies. I have so many great cheerleading memories and so does Ashley, and we had a camaraderie over that. Cheerleading really stays with you forever.
AC: So, what’s the secret to surviving high school?
KCS: All the things you think are so big and stressful—whom to hang out with, trying to fit in—none of that matters. You see people years later, and it’s all so different. Nothing’s as dramatic as you think. Secondly, be confident. I so badly wish I’d been more confident in high school. I didn’t realize how awesome and how great an individual I was.
Get to Know KayCee:
* She’s a girly girl, but loves camping and quading (four-wheeling).
* Her secret hobby is decorating. In fact, if she hadn’t become an actress she would’ve gone into interior design.
* She once had aspirations to be a Sea World trainer. Her favorite water-dwelling creatures? Dolphins and sea otters.
* She hates tomatoes.
* Her biggest pet peeve is when cords aren’t hidden.