Thursday, July 25, 2013

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Katherine Bailess On Acting, Singing, Dancing & Playing Kyle Hart In HIT THE FLOOR

Katherine Bailess stars as Kyle Hart in HIT THE FLOOR
Katherine Bailess is an actress, singer and dancer from Vicksburg, Mississippi, a true southern belle. She recently wrapped filming the new VH1 series HIT THE FLOOR, where she stars as Kyle Hart, one of the elite Los Angeles 'Devil Girl' Professional Basketball Dancers. The show, created by James LaRosa and also starring Charlotte Ross and Dean Cain, premiered in May. The season finale airs on Monday, July 29th.

Bailess is no stranger to television or film as she has recurred on a number of TV shows including GILMORE GIRLS, ONE TREE HILL, THE LOOP and SORDID LIVES. She has also appeared on shows like NCIS and on the big screen as a lead opposite Kelly Clarkson in From Justin to Kelly and Bring It On Again. She also has been in numerous independent films including Below the Beltway, Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale, Stone Markers and 2 Dead 2 Kill. On occasion, she is also known to step in as a co-host for AFTERBUZZ TV alongside Maria Menounos.

Never one to neglect her southern roots, Bailess still makes time so she can continue to work on her country music, as both a singer and songwriter.

She lives in Los Angeles and, when not working, keeps busy with Pilates, playing the guitar, dancing, reading, hiking and giving back to the community.

In this exclusive new interview with We Love Soaps, Bailess talks about her journey to Hollywood, her love of music and what it's like playing a 'Devil Girl' in HIT THE FLOOR.

WE LOVE SOAPS: I'm loving HIT THE FLOOR, but before we get to that, let's talk about your journey from Vicksburg to Los Angeles?
KATHERINE BAILESS: I grew up as a dancer, and that's how I made it to New York City and got into acting. My very first job was in a soap, ONE LIFE TO LIVE. I started off as an under-five and became recurring. If you appear more than six times on a soap, the AFTRA rep comes and says, "You have to join or you can't get back on set." I was like, "Heck yeah!" That was my first acting gig so it was really cool. Then I tested for two soaps in New York, GUIDING LIGHT and ALL MY CHILDREN. I was up for Kendall in ALL MY CHILDREN, playing Susan Lucci's daughter.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Wow. Sarah Michelle Gellar had originated that role then Alicia Minshew was cast as Kendall in 2002.
KATHERINE BAILESS: Alicia and I tested together, and we got to test with Josh Duhamel (who played Leo). He was so cute. I actually saw him years later in L.A. and ran up to him and said, "Oh my God, we tested together." And he said, "How could I forget you, you spicy, southern belle?"

WE LOVE SOAPS: You would have been a really good Kendall.
KATHERINE BAILESS: It's funny, I don't look anything like Alicia, or Susan, but I really did love that part. It was a fun audition process. But everything happens for a reason, and I probably wouldn't be in L.A. or on HIT THE FLOOR so it's all good. So I finished my acting school at The William Esper Studio and left New York right after that test. I moved to L.A., and had an agent, so I immediately started working in film. That's how I got from Mississippi to New York to L.A.

WE LOVE SOAPS: I love so many of the TV shows you've done but maybe my favorite was SORDID LIVES. What was it like being on that set and working with Del Shores?
KATHERINE BAILESS: Del keeps the family together so he hires the same people for each show, if they are right for it. I'm really close to Del Shores so when he started writing the SORDID LIVES series he created Nurse Waring for me. Nurse Waring was named after my mom's maiden name. I was so blessed to be working with Rue McClanahan, Leslie Jordan, Bonnie Bedelia and Beth Grant. We shot it down in Shreveport, Louisiana. Unfortunately it didn't make it to a second season but it was a fun show to work on.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Do you have a favorite TV or film role that you played prior to HIT THE FLOOR?
KATHERINE BAILESS: One of my favorite roles was Erica Marsh on ONE TREE HILL. I had a blast on that show. When you get a guest starring [role], they tell you if it's going to be recurring or not but they don't guarantee it. So when I had done two episodes, I found out I got three, then four and five. That was really cool. My other favorite, and people sometimes laugh, was From Justin to Kelly when I played Alexa. That was my first huge opportunity as an actor, singer and dancer. It was like a paid vacation on South Beach for three months. That was really my introduction to the movie world. I get recognized all the time from that movie and joke, "Y'all sure didn't go to the box office."

WE LOVE SOAPS: The critics were never going to praise that movie. I may be in the minority but I actually liked it.
KATHERINE BAILESS: From Justin to Kelly was before its time. Two years after that High School Musical came out, and it was a hit. Ours was pretty much the same thing, just with a little more substance.

WE LOVE SOAPS: So let's talk about HIT THE FLOOR and your character, Kyle Hart. What appealed to you most about this role?
KATHERINE BAILESS: I love everything about her. I still learn more about her with each script that they give me. When I first auditioned for the role I really didn't know what this character was all about. I read the breakdown which said, "Kyle Hart, sex on legs." I wondered, "Who's going to think when I walk in there that I can play some confident stripper?" I just decided to make her my own. I came in and we had to do a scene then a dance in the callback. I incorporated my dance background with a little bit of some sexy stripper moves. The next time I came back they asked me where I was from, and I asked if they could hear my accent. They said yes, and asked me to come back the next day and do it with a southern accent. In the middle of one of my scenes I started doing it Southern and they all started cracking up laughing. I said, 'Y’all better stop laughing. You're making me laugh." And they cracked up even more. I think they just knew that I was that girl. I know I changed the way they looked at this character. James LaRosa, the creator, said I brought something in he never even thought of, and they just kind of wrote around that southern girl and southern wit.

Every single day has been a dream come true because I never really thought I'd be dancing this hard again. I was a full-time dancer when I was younger then moved out to LA and gave up my Broadway career to be an actress in television and movies. Now I get to dance, and dance with the most talented dancers I ever danced with in my entire life. And our choreographer Michael Rooney, who is Mickey Rooney's son, is one of a kind and makes each dance come to life with something new. He doesn't want the audience to get bored so he's making us work our asses off.

WE LOVE SOAPS: How much of what we see in the routines is done by the actors?
KATHERINE BAILESS: We don't have body doubles. That's us. If you see blonde girl flipping flipping, I used to do that but put it in my back pocket a long time ago. I don't want to break anything. I'm an actress and there comes a time when you have to ask yourself what stunts can you do safely without hurting yourself for the rest of the season. They are very careful about it as well. I'm not going to lie, I did whiplash my neck in one of the dances. And I hurt myself during the pilot pulling my hamstring. The pilot was shot many months before the second episode so I had time to heal. The whiplash was in the middle of two dances so I had to take a lot of Advil. But there are so many shots so it's not all on me.

WE LOVE SOAPS: For someone who hasn't watched yet, how would you describe Kyle? What do you think makes her tick?
KATHERINE BAILESS: Kyle Hart is sex on legs, and the comedic relief on the show. She keeps everybody on their toes. She is sexy, confident, witty, a ball of energy, doesn't care what anyone thinks of her, and will do anything to get what she wants, ANYTHING in capital letters. If she gets in trouble, she finds a way to get out of it. I think a lot of people like her because she's not a bitch. I always say there's something about a southern bitch that people like. It doesn't come off mean but endearing. That's who Kyle is. At first she's the one-liner, funny girl but as the show goes along things are getting a little more serious. There was a scene in episode 6 where German (Jonathan "Lil J" McDaniel) asked Kyle what her end game was, and why she wanted so much money. She told him it's for "freedom." It showed Kyle had more to her than just trying to sleep with all these guys and getting money.

WE LOVE SOAPS: I like that she's so smart.
KATHERINE BAILESS: That's why it works, she's smart and not an airhead.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Are you a basketball fan in real life?
KATHERINE BAILESS: I've been to a couple of Lakers games and grew up as a basketball and football cheerleader, so I was always in that world. But I'm from the South; we're all about our college football. I have to go back every year to an Ole Miss Rebels game because A) my daddy would get his feelings hurt if I didn't and B) I just love it. My daddy was a football player with Archie Manning at Ole Miss. He was very athletic and I guess that's where I get my athleticism from.

WE LOVE SOAPS: The show has already been renewed for a second season. What kind of feedback have you gotten from viewers?
KATHERINE BAILESS: A lot of praise. It's hysterical. Fans will say things like, "Oh girl, you're my bitch on HIT THE FLOOR." Or "You tell it like it is and get what you want." And they say I'm an amazing dancer and actor. It's really awesome because we've worked our butts off. Everyone on the show paid their dues, especially Taylour Paige, Logan Browning and me. We didn't have one moment to breathe. When we weren't acting on set we were in the rehearsal studio with Michael learning dances. The pool dance I learned the day before. There's part of your right brain that has to go into full-mode. You have use your creative juices and just do it.

WE LOVE SOAPS: You're also a talented singer. I listened to a couple of your songs and loved them. I kind of heard a hybrid of Lorrie Morgan and Miranda Lambert. Who were some of your musical influences?
KATHERINE BAILESS: My first concert was Garth Brooks. But I love George Strait, Randy Travis, and Dolly Parton is one of my idols. I love Shania Twain, and Faith Hill from Mississippi, who made me want to get into country. That was more of who I am and what I want to sing to people, and write about. In my iPod now are Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band, and who doesn't love Rascal Flatts? It's funny you said that about Miranda because I sometimes feel our voices are unique in that way. She's a little more twangy than me. When I first decided to get into music, I tried to figure out how I would be different from anybody. I know I have a different weird quirky raspy voice but I'm also a performer and dancer. What country star has gotten up there like a Britney [Spears] or BeyoncĂ© and performed, and not just sang with their guitar or band?

WE LOVE SOAPS: Taylor Swift has at least tried.
KATHERINE BAILESS: She is so cute. More power to her. That's why people love her because she gets up there and dances and doesn't care.

WE LOVE SOAPS: It's been a decade since From Justin to Kelly and you've done so much in your career already. If you go could back to the beginning of your career and give yourself a piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
KATHERINE BAILESS: I would tell myself to go with my gut instincts and stop listening to so many other people talking in my ear. Sometimes as an actor your instinct, as yourself, is better than what an acting coach or teacher or somebody else might tell you. That makes you unique. I feel like I had to go through all these different stages to figure out what I have to bring to the table in this crazy world of entertainment. If I tried to be like everyone else, then what's so special about me? I think actors and musicians become successful when they bring something else to the table that no one else can bring. But life experience is the biggest gift you can ever get. There are so many things I know now that I didn't know then. I sound like I'm writing a song.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Write this down! [Laughs]
KATHERINE BAILESS: I think that was in a song. [Laughs]

Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals. He appeared in FRANCOPRHENIA in 2012 and the documentary SOAP LIFE, out on DVD in 2013.

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