Taylor Thomas danced with ensembles during commercials for the BET Hip-Hop Awards and an Xbox Kinect dance game, but this time the spotlight shined solely on her.
This time, she was asked to act.
The end result can be seen in the current commercials for MSG Varsity, where the Belleville High School senior cheerleader is one of four Metropolitan area high school students – and the only one from New Jersey – appearing in the network's current ad campaign.
However, the best part is that, starting Feb. 6, Thomas will have her own spot which will run through the spring.
“It's crazy,” Thomas said. “I'd never done a commercial that was focused on me. I dance more than I act.”
Thomas began her dance career shortly after watching “Singing in the Rain” with her mother, enrolling in Lyndhurst's Studio Workshop before crossing the Hudson River at least four times a week to study at the Broadway Dance Center. She also dances with the Kelly Peters Dance Company, which led to word about an audition for MSG Varsity.
What Phil Summers, the network's vice president for marketing, and the other executives wanted to see was clear: someone whose acting, for all intents and purposes, was not them playing a part untrue to themselves.
“The kids who don't really have a lot of formal acting training or dramatic training are the most authentic,” Summers said.
Enter Thomas, who never acted before, but serves as a captain for the Super Essex Conference Liberty Division championship cheerleading team.
“We knew she was a competitive cheer, so she knew the sport,” Summers said. “She was able to deliver the lines. She's a good little actress.”
After beating out more than 100 contenders, Thomas filled her spot in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., alongside three student-athletes from high schools representing a few of New York's five boroughs. All of them took turns saying their lines as the cameras rolled, several of them different variations of the network's tagline of “Thanks MSG Varsity.”
“It was cool,” Thomas said. “It was weird because it was a normal environment. I'd say the same lines over and over again.”
Ranked 19th out of 377 in the class of 2012, Thomas has applied to several New York colleges and universities, including Fordham University, Manhattan College, and New York University.
Although she plans to major in biology, Thomas said she will continue to dance. And, after her experience with MSG Varsity, she may expand her horizons into acting.
“This made me realize that I could do both,” she said.