UGR: What got you into tap dancing?
Stephen: I came at it from kind of a weird angle. I’m not originally a tap dancer. I’ve never tap danced in my life before doing this film. I would take walks on the beach. I live out in Los Angeles so I do that to clear my head and come up with story ideas. At the time I was listening to a lot of old school soul like Stevie Wonder, Sam & Dave, Gladys Knight and the Pips. For whatever reason I just saw myself tap dancing to these songs. I’ve always been a fan of underdog films so I kind of put the two together and came up with the story idea.
UGR: What sparked the name “Dance Baby Dance?”
Stephen: Titles kind of just pop into my head and then once they stick I can’t get them out. Unless something else comes up and replaces it. I wanted it to be a line of dialogue in the film.
UGR: What are some of your favorite music genres?
Stephen: I like every genre if it’s a well done film. I mostly write comedic stuff. I like thrillers. I like dramas. It’s hard to say for sure, but going back to the underdog kind of theme. I’ve always been a fan of those kind of films. Rocky, Rudy, 8 Mile, Flashdance.
UGR: How did you get started in the film industry?
Stephen: I moved out here from college from Maryland. I gravitated more to writing first. I didn’t really like auditioning. I always knew I wanted to act. I knew I probably would do it in things I would write and probably direct. Because then I would know exactly what I would want the character to do and say and how to perform.
UGR: How familiar and comfortable are you with the world of dance?
Stephen: I’m comfortable from a fan perspective. I didn’t grow up as a dancer. Most of the people in the film have been dancing since they were 6 or 7 years old. These were world class dancers. Jim, the ballet dancer, was a Top 6 finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance?”. Isaiah Lucas, who plays Ravon, he’s a Debbie Allen protege. He’s our Hip-Hop dancer.
UGR: How was it working with Beverley on the film?
Stephen: Beverley’s great. She’s been on sets since she was 4 years old. Acting across from her helped me get into character that much easier. If she didn’t have that experience it would’ve been a little tougher for me. It was great working with her.
UGR: Any new films you’re working on?
Stephen: I’m going to be promoting this film for a little while. I wrote a book about the making of it. I’m probably going to be doing a lot of promotion about that and the film.
UGR: Anything else you would like to tell the audience?
Stephen: There’s a line in the film that I’ve talked to some tap dancers about since where my boss tells me if I don’t make this showcase which is my one last shot are there other tap dance opportunities and my character says no especially not around here. What I’ve learned since is while that was accurate for my character because he wanted to leave his job and work professionally as a tap dancer. I didn’t want to give the impression that there aren’t of tap dance opportunities. There actually are a lot in every city you go in. There’s classes you can take, there’s companies you can join. If you want to be a professional there’s touring situations. I didn’t want to perpetuate any kind of myth that tap dancing is kind of dying and non existent. It’s the exact opposite. It’s really thriving and doing more and more so. If people follow the really big stars online they’ll see how huge a following they have and how excited people are about it. So I wanted to get that out and I appreciate you letting me get that out.