Interview with Mario Lopez and Jana Kramer

TV Interview!

Mario Lopez and Jana Kramer of "Steppin' into the Holiday" on Lifetime

Interview with Mario Lopez and Jana Kramer of “Steppin’ into the Holiday” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/7/22

This is a fun Christmas movie with a lot of dancing. I’ve spoke with Jana before, but not Mario. It was nice to chat with them both, of course. This is a better movie than the last one I saw him in. I didn’t realize that he got his start dancing when he was very young. I also didn’t realize that he’s from Chula Vista, which is right near where I grew up! It sounds a little bit like he had a cold during the interview because he was sounding congested and drinking a lot of water. I hope he feels better!¬† Anyway, you should check out this festive movie. Two trailers below and then the interview.

MORE INFO: Trailer

Steppin' Into the Holiday key art

Former Broadway star Billy Holiday (Mario Lopez) returns to his hometown for Christmas after being abruptly fired as the host-producer-judge of the hit TV series ‚ÄúCelebrity Dance Off.‚ÄĚ ¬†While there, he encounters Rae (Jana Kramer), the charismatic owner of the local dance studio, where Billy‚Äôs 12-year-old nephew is her standout student. This Christmas, Rae is planning a dance recital fundraiser with the goal of taking her students to see a Broadway show in New York City. Billy volunteers to help Rae with the recital by reviving the town‚Äôs traditional Christmas Eve show, which was once a showcase for local talent. With Billy‚Äôs knack for producing and Rae‚Äôs knowledge of all things local, their collaboration clicks and romantic sparks start flying!

Cheri Oteri stars as Dallas, Billy‚Äôs high-powered, fast-talking, Hollywood agent. Dallas scrambles to find Billy work after he is fired by his boss, Wayne, played by Mario Cantone, a network executive who is equal parts charming and ruthless! Courtney Lopez , Mario‚Äôs real-life wife, also appears in the film as Joanna, the charismatic host of ‚ÄúCelebrity Dance Off,‚ÄĚ who is tapped to replace Billy (her former fling) as executive producer and head judge after his popularity hits the skids.

Steppin’ Into the Holiday is produced by Via Mar and Roberts Media, LLC. in association with Motion Content Group.  Jeff Stearns, Mark Roberts, Mario Lopez, Jana Kramer, Richard Foster and Chet Fenster serving as Executive Producers. David Kendall directs from a script by Aliza Murrieta and Peter Murrieta.

Mario Lopez is an American actor and television host. He has appeared on several television series, in films, and on Broadway. He is known for his portrayal of A.C. Slater on Saved by the Bell, Saved by the Bell: The College Years, and the 2020 sequel series. He has appeared in numerous projects since, including the third season of Dancing with the Stars and as host for the syndicated entertainment news magazine shows Extra and Access Hollywood. He has also hosted America’s Best Dance Crew for MTV. In 2012, he co-hosted the second season of the American version of The X Factor with Khlo√© Kardashian, and was the sole host for the third and final season.

Jana Rae Kramer is an American country music singer and actress. She is known for her role as Alex Dupre on the television series One Tree Hill. Kramer began her musical career in 2012 and has released two albums: Jana Kramer (2012) and Thirty One (2015). The albums produced seven charted singles on Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay, including the top 10 hits “Why Ya Wanna” and “I Got the Boy”. She competed on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars, finishing in fourth place. (These two biographies are from Wikipedia)

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Mario Lopez and Jana Kramer dancing in "Steppin' into the Holiday" on Lifetime

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman

TV Interview!

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on Lifetime

Interview with Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of “Christmas Dance Reunion” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/8/21

This was part of a Lifetime Christmas press panel. I really enjoyed seeing the movies and speaking everyone. What made this movie so special is all of the great dancing. It was nice to chat with these two. Corbin used to be on “One Life to Live,” so I was thrilled to speak with him.

MODERATOR:¬† Hi, everyone, and welcome to our third panel for today.¬† I would like to introduce Monique Coleman and Corbin Bleu of this year’s “A Christmas Dance Reunion”.¬† We’re gonna go ahead and get the questions started.¬† Noah has the first question.¬† Noah?

QUESTION:¬† Hello.¬† It is so great to be here with you guys.¬† By the way, you look fabulous and happy holidays to both of you.¬† My first question is to you, Corbin.¬† We see two high school dance partners get back together for the holidays.¬† So many fans from “High School Musical”, including myself, will watch this and think this is the perfect holiday storyline for the two of you, as you both have worked together on the Disney Network in “High School Musical”.¬† But how does this holiday story throw us back to some of the “High School Musical” memories?¬† Because I did see a photo when I screened of you and Monique, and it was back during — I think in the gym of “High School Musical”.¬† I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is fantastic.”

CORBIN BLEU:¬† Honestly, getting to work on this project settled so many dreams coming true.¬† At this time, I mean, it was October of 2020 when we went out to go shoot, so coming on the tail end of a quarantine and not working for a period of time.¬† It was also election time.¬† There was a lot of — just a lot of chaos at the time and in our minds.¬† And all of a sudden, we go on this journey to go to Canada, get out of the U.S. for a minute.¬† And we get to reunite in this film that we haven’t been on screen together in 13 years.¬† And when I tell you every single moment on set was just comfort.¬† And there are a lot of moments in the film that when I watched it looking at just how easy the romance comes and how easy the connection came, and that was real.¬† I mean, it just — it’s…it truly is such a beautiful, wonderful thing to be able to work with a person that you love from the bottom of your heart.¬† I mean, Mo, I love you.¬† You’re, like, you’re —


CORBIN BLEU:¬† You’re my sis.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† I’m like, oh my God.

CORBIN BLEU:¬† There was just so — honestly, I could go on and on so much because then on top of it, my wife, Sasha Clements, is also another lead part in the film.¬† So there was all of this just love, just this lovefest on camera and on set.

QUESTION:¬† Now, Monique, just speaking of “High School Musical”, there was a lot of dance that would go on in the show.¬† Because it was a musical, there was a lot of dance routines that would happen.


QUESTION:  I really think dance brings us together and I think that definitely shows in this holiday movie.  So lastly, how was the process of nailing down a dance routine with Corbin Bleu when you guys got to reprise and really just do this again, just be able to dance together?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† Yeah.¬† I think Corbin really said it well.¬† The thing is that we were safe, you know?¬† We felt like we were safe, we were comfortable.¬† And that is such an important part of telling any story is making sure that you have that connection.¬† But another thing that I think is really interesting is Corbin started dancing when he was two or three years old.¬† I started dancing when I was in fourth grade.¬† And something that’s really interesting is that our lives didn’t begin with “High School Musical”.¬† Obviously, that is an amazing part of our journey, and it’s a peak, and we’re so — we will always be so proud of it and excited to talk about it and share.¬† But what I thought was really interesting was that this story to me brought the two of us back further than where we were when “High School Musical” started.¬† It brought us back to the roots of who we are and it reminded me that I danced as a kid.¬† And this moment didn’t make it in the movie, but there are photos in the hallway of my fictional house that are pictures of me when I was 10, 12, 15, 17 years old with these big dreams in my mind.¬† And to see that and then to actually see photos of us from when we were on tour — one of the photos is actually from the Macy’s Day Parade.¬† And I remember that so distinctly.¬† And I remember how I felt in that moment.¬† And then to fast forward to today and to be able to bring all of who we are together and for that to be on screen, I think it absolutely captures the magic that you all felt when you saw “High School Musical”.¬† But I also think that this movie is going to do something really special and allow you to get to know Corbin and I in a way that you probably honestly haven’t seen prior to now which is really, like, who we’ve always been.

QUESTION:  Thank you guys for your time.  I appreciate it.


CORBIN BLEU:  Thank you.


MODERATOR:¬† Thank you, Noah.¬† Alright, up next I have Mike from TV America.¬† Mike?¬† I’m gonna give him a moment.¬† Oh, there he is.

QUESTION:  Okay, can you hear me now?


QUESTION:  Can you hear me okay now?


QUESTION:  Okay, good deal.  Hey, Corbin, I wanted to ask you to kind of continue on what Mo was saying a minute ago.  Because we have a lot of movies that are about singing, not as many movies that are based on dance.  And dance has been so much a part of your life forever.  I mean, talk about starting to take dance when you were two or three years old.  Talk about what it was like as a kid and how important it is to be able to get back to a dance-based show like this sometimes.

CORBIN BLEU:¬† Well, again, this movie is a lot of art mimics life and vice versa.¬† There’s a lot of meta moments.¬† I started dancing when I was about two years old.¬† And I started with tap and ballet, and that was always my first love.¬† And I started acting early, as well, and I started singing early, as well.¬† But dance was just always my form of expression.¬† And to this day, it’s just the one thing that just comes naturally, just comes easy.¬† If there’s ever — you know, there are times when people just — they just want to sing and it just needs to come out of them.¬† And my body just expresses it through dance.¬† And when I tell you the character, both of them, both of the characters are just so rooted in realism.¬† They both found this joy and this love of dance at an early age.¬† My character, Barrett, actually continued on with it and went on to become a Broadway stage performer, very much like real life.¬† And Monique’s character goes on to actually become a lawyer and dance is still this joy, this love that’s just hanging right behind her that she’s just wanting to turn back and find again.¬† And I know — I’m gonna just speak for Mo a little bit, yeah, I know that she has gone on to do just such incredible serious, wonderful things in this world.¬† I mean, she’s a U.N. ambassador.¬† So again, I know for me getting to dance with her and her getting a chance to also re-find a joy of dance and that love in this, it was incredible.¬† And I’ve got to also do one more shoutout to our director and our choreographer —


CORBIN BLEU:¬† …Brian Herzlinger and Christian Vincent because the turnaround on this was not “High School Musical”.¬† You know, “High School Musical” we had…


CORBIN BLEU:¬† …like, at least — at least — two days per number, at least.


CORBIN BLEU:¬† This we shot — I think majority of the final dance routines were shot in one day.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  In a day, yeah.

CORBIN BLEU:¬† One day.¬† And the other dance routines, everything else that you see was shot in one other day.¬† So just an insane amount of hard work.¬† And to top it all off, there were things that were implemented that weren’t originally in the script, one being my tap number.¬† One number in the movie that really is such a pivotal story moment that you actually get to really see Barrett’s love for dance and where his spirit really flies is this tap number that was never in the script, was never a part of rehearsals, until we were like three — I think we were three or four days from getting ready to start shooting.¬† And I knew that they were gonna do this other tap number and I said to Brian, I was like, “Brian, you know that I tap, right?”¬† And he goes, “Wait, what?”¬† I was like, “Yeah, I love tapping.”¬† And he said, “We should implement that.”¬† And Christian, freaking incredible man that he is, threw together this tap number.¬† And we worked on this over the next couple weeks before we had to shoot it and implemented this number.¬† And it turns out to be such a beautiful moment in the movie.¬† Just really, really wonderful that they allowed such input and organicn-ess to free flow.


QUESTION:  Okay, cool.  Thanks.

MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Thank you, Mike.  And our next question is from Suzanne.


QUESTION:  Hi.  I really enjoyed the movie.  I loved watching it.  It really made me wanna go to the Winterleigh.

CORBIN BLEU:  Awesome.

QUESTION:  Where was it actually filmed?

CORBIN BLEU:  We shot up in Vancouver.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yes.  Toronto.

CORBIN BLEU:¬† I’m sorry — Vancouver — Toronto.¬† We filmed up in Toronto, I’m sorry.


CORBIN BLEU:¬† The other side of the country.¬† We shot up in Toronto at the…

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† Where were we?¬† I’m like…

CORBIN BLEU:  Horseshoe.  Horseshoe.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† That’s right.



CORBIN BLEU:  Yeah, the hotel.

QUESTION:  Oh, okay.  Great.  And Monique, what was the thing about it that was the most challenging for you?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† I think letting it be easy.¬† That was the most challenging thing was just allowing it.¬† You know, we’re in an industry that can just be so difficult in so many different ways.¬† And this was an experience that Corbin was speaking of earlier that was in the midst of a very active world pandemic.¬† We were in the midst of a very intense election in the U.S.¬† And we’re storytellers.¬† And we kept reminding ourselves that we got to be the magic makers of the moment.¬† We get to be the lightworkers.¬† We get to be the ones that are going to be a part of helping people to have the joy that we all deserve when this all is over.¬† And so for me, to be honest, yes, learning the dances was challenging.¬† Spending two weeks in quarantine and then going from basically zero to hero and having not worked pretty much all year long, having definitely not danced or been in a studio at all.¬† And I actually turned 40, so I was like my knees are not — they’re not capable of doing this which is actually really hilarious because that is something that Lucy talks about as her character.¬† But it’s very real for me ’cause I’m like no, but really.¬† I can’t just jump in like that.¬† But at the end of the day, I guess I always knew that this was supposed to be fun and it was supposed to bring joy.¬† And if there was anything that I felt like I couldn’t do, I knew that I had the support to change that.¬† So I knew that with Corbin that I was safe with my partner.¬† I knew that with Christian, he wanted to make sure that we looked good.¬† And Brian is just like all-around so incredible that there wasn’t really any pressure.¬† There wasn’t any extra tension.¬† So you know, I think, yeah, obviously the most challenging part was going from not dancing or doing anything and being in a pandemic to going full throttle.¬† But even that is a blessing and it’s a gift.¬† And so I don’t even like to look at that as really any more than just the challenge that comes with being privileged to be able to do something that you love for a living.

QUESTION:  Awesome.  Thank you guys so much.

CORBIN BLEU:  Thank you.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Yeah, thank you.

MODERATOR:¬† Thanks, Suzanne.¬† We’re going now to our final two questions.¬† Cynthia?

QUESTION:  Hello, can you hear me?

CORBIN BLEU:  Yes, we can.

QUESTION:¬† Okay.¬† Hi.¬† I’m Cynthia Horner from “Right On! Magazine” and “Word Up! Magazine”.¬† And Corbin, you and Monique used to appear in our magazines all the time.

CORBIN BLEU:  Yes!  Absolutely!

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† I know!¬† I was like “Word Up!”!

QUESTION:  Yeah.  What is it like now being grown people that really got your start as teenagers and you continued on with your craft?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† One of us was a teenager.¬† The other one wasn’t.

CORBIN BLEU:  (Laughs.)

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† I’ll let you guess which one.

CORBIN BLEU:  Homegirl, you still look fly as hell.


CORBIN BLEU:  Honestly, just like life, there are aspects that just get better and better and then there are other parts that you go, oof, that hurts a lot more.


CORBIN BLEU:¬† You know, I think that there truly was an appreciation on this film.¬† When we were working back then, at least I can speak for myself to say that I was just a teenager.¬† And as much as I really was a hard worker and I was always focused on what I was doing and I appreciated everything that was going on, it still was just about enjoying that ride.¬† And it all happened so quickly that there are times where you have to — you forget to remind yourself, let me really take in this moment.¬† And I feel like I was able to do that a lot more working on this project.


CORBIN BLEU:¬† Just as an adult, in general, those times where it really is special.¬† One thing that I would love to talk about that I was able — a moment that I was able to look around and go, wow, this is really beautiful, was the representation in this film.


CORBIN BLEU:¬† And its diversity.¬† I mean, what’s so beautiful is to see these lead actors, Black actors, and that has nothing to do with the driving force of the storyline.¬† The storyline is a romance story.¬† It has nothing to do with the fact that we’re Black.¬† And yet, you get to see all of this diversity and all of this representation in there.¬† And I feel like that to me is something that as a kid, I don’t necessarily — I wouldn’t necessarily pinpoint as much.¬† Now, I see it and I go this is something that I wish I was able to see a lot more of on screen when I was a kid and watching all these holiday movies.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† Yeah, that’s literally exactly what I was feeling, Corbin, was that that is the biggest shift that has happened since that time.¬† We were just in a different era and now to be these characters that are not just supporting someone else’s story but to be the story and yeah, that is definitely different and exciting.

QUESTION:  Well, thank you so much.  And merry Christmas in advance.

MONIQUE COLEMAN:  Thank you.  You, too.

CORBIN BLEU:  Merry Christmas in advance to you, too.  And happy Thanksgiving.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:¬† Awesome.¬† Thank you, Cynthia.¬† We’re gonna wrap with Samantha.¬† Samantha?

QUESTION:¬† Hi.¬† Thank you both so much for touching on the diversity piece because that’s really what I wanted to ask about.¬† I was reading about Monique you know just a part of how Taylor’s — the headband became — like, a piece was not really having people that could do Black hair.¬† And I’m just curious what your experiences have been through the start of your career to now being in the industry where it’s really embracing and prioritizing diversity?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† Yeah.¬† It’s definitely shifted so much.¬† The fact that we can even have this conversation and be open about it is I think definitely progress.¬† And I think one thing that Corbin and I both do is we are very collaborative in the process.¬† So we don’t take a backseat to what we’re doing.¬† We really want to be involved every step of the way.¬† And so it’s been really wonderful to watch the industry catch up and also personally to be able to make stronger and different choices about how I want to be presented and so forth.¬† So I feel like there’s a lot more room.¬† And not just diversity amongst — like racial diversity, but also diversity within a race.¬† I think oftentimes, I have been cast in roles that someone could perceive as a token role.¬† Like, oh, here we’re fulfilling the diversity quota because we’re both very safe people.¬† And that’s not to…it just is what it is.


MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† And so oftentimes, we’re put in this position and it’s like there’s so much diversity within being Black.¬† It’s not just, okay, we’ve got someone that’s it.¬† And that is something that is so special and beautiful about “A Christmas Dance Reunion” is that you just have this family.¬† You’ve got these people and they just are different shades of Black and it’s not just one note or one tone.¬† And that is really very exciting to see what the possibilities are now that these other universes are opening up where we can see ourselves from here.

CORBIN BLEU:¬† One hundred percent with everything Mo just said.¬† And it’s such an important, important thing for what she’s talking about, as far as diversity within the diversity.


CORBIN BLEU:¬† And this movie by the way, there’s representation with LGBTQIA community.¬† There’s–


CORBIN BLEU:  In age, in differently abled.


CORBIN BLEU:  And our writer, one of our co-writing team, you know, Brian Herzlinger but majority of the heavy lifting on the writing was Megan Henry Herzlinger.  We have a female writer.  Yeah, right?

MONIQUE COLEMAN:¬† It’s so good.

CORBIN BLEU:¬† So really, I mean, all that is there but again, what’s so amazing and so important to me about this film is that all of that goes unsaid.


CORBIN BLEU:¬† To me, for what I grew up watching, the stuff that I — you know, I grew up watching all of the MGM classic musicals and never really getting a chance to see representation of myself in that character.¬† And most of the time growing up, if I was watching someone of color, then it was the token.¬† And usually the phrases that were coming out of that person’s mouth or the kind of demeanor of a certain — it always was a very specific category.¬† Or they were there because the driving force of their storyline was because they’re Black.¬† It has to do with their struggle.¬† It has to do with the fact that they’re not represented.¬† And we have romance stories, too.


CORBIN BLEU:  We have positivity without the struggle, as well.


CORBIN BLEU:¬† That’s always there.¬† That struggle is always there because we aren’t represented in that way, but we will only see that struggle and only see that representation if those are the only stories that we continue to tell.¬† So that’s why this really to me was such a beautiful, beautiful experience and really important.¬† And I want to see more of it and Mo and I need to do more of that together.


MODERATOR:¬† Awesome.¬† Well, thank you both so much for participating today.¬† We all love that you’re here together and reunited.¬† So be sure everyone to tune in to “A Christmas Dance Reunion” on Friday, December 3rd, at 8/7 Central only on Lifetime.


Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on LifetimeA Christmas Dance Reunion
Friday, December 3 at 8pm / 7c

Successful attorney Lucy Mortimer (Monique Coleman), along with her mother Virginia (Kim Roberts) returns to the Winterleigh Resort to help celebrate the hotel’s final Christmas season. Once there, Lucy is reunited with the owner’s nephew and her childhood Christmas Dance partner, Barrett Brewster (Corbin Bleu). Though the resort has fallen on hard times and has stopped most holiday events, Lucy leads the charge in recreating the beloved Christmas traditions, including the popular Christmas Dance, to bring together new families and new hope to the resort. Now, Lucy must decide if she’s willing to take a risk on love and partner up once more with Barrett for what could be the last Christmas Dance.

A Christmas Dance Reunion is produced by Off Camera Entertainment and Brain Power Studio with Stephanie Slack, Margret H. Huddleston and Beth Stevenson as Executive Producers. Megan Henry Herzlinger and Brian Herzlinger serve as writers. Brian Herzlinger also directs.

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Corbin Bleu and Monique Coleman of "Christmas Dance Reunion" 12/3 on Lifetime