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Q&A with Jeanine Mason

Jeanine Mason, a first-year world arts and cultures student, is the winner of the last season of Fox’s reality-competition show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

By Shelley Brown

Sept. 20, 2009 2:25 p.m.

Daily Bruin: What motivated you to audition for “So You Think You Can Dance”?

Jeanine Mason: I actually didn’t want to audition in the first place. I had always been a fan of the show and I had some friends who had been on the show, but I was afraid of falling on my face on national television. I was at another audition for acting and one of the girls called me from my studio and was like, “You have to come,” and I showed up to the audition because my family convinced me. Janette (Manrara), who was also on the show, so she let me cut and that is the only reason why I was able to audition. I auditioned at 1:30 in the morning. That initial audition was the most nerve-racking part of the whole show, but it was so amazing getting that ticket (to Las Vegas).

DB: Besides the audition, what is your most memorable moment from the show?

JM: Definitely standing on that stage on the Kodak (Theatre) hearing 3,000 people cheering for you. I couldn’t even take it; my dad said, “I have never seen you like that; your face was in awe.” I couldn’t believe it. The contemporary piece (“If It Kills Me”) with Jason (Glover) was also my most memorable moment because I felt like I had this beautiful piece to share with America.

DB: What was the most challenging aspect of this experience for you?

JM: That last week was so challenging. We were all so exhausted and it was a continuous pounding on our bodies. Brandon (Bryant) and I’s paso doble ““ we learned that last week and it was really hard. At that point, your mind is melting out of your ears and you can’t absorb information. It made it that much more rewarding at the end when we were able to do it and get such positive feedback, because there was a moment when we thought we wouldn’t be able to perform it. But it is actually one of the ones we are doing on the tour.

DB: How has your life changed since winning?

JM: It has changed so much, because I am out in L.A. right now and I thought right now I would be at UCLA studying, making friends, and I never imagined I would be waking up in the morning and dancing all day and doing what I love and being able to perform for people who appreciate my presence in the art world. My goal has always been to reach people, to make somebody smile, let them forget about reality and enjoy your movement.

DB: Speaking of UCLA, why did you decide this was the college for you?

JM: I absolutely loved this school. I came out here like three years ago for a dance event and I love L.A. There are so many opportunities here for a performer. It is not possible to walk around (campus) without your jaw dropping; it is such an amazing campus. Also, L.A. is the other sunny place in the United States. I am from Miami; I was not going to be freezing in the cold. I haven’t found one person who doesn’t love it I here. … Even Trojans have told me when I have done interviews that I am going to love it at UCLA, and you know if a Trojan says that, it must be true.

DB: Are you going to pursue dance in college?

JM: I was hesitant of whether I was going to keep dancing. But after the show and the confidence and the inspiration I found, I know I can never ever stop dancing. I was a fool to think I could.

DB: What are you looking forward to as an incoming freshman?

JM: I am just looking forward to the college experience. I am a very outgoing person; I love going to football games, spreading myself very thin and doing everything. I am just excited to get all dressed up in my Bruin gear and go to a football game.

DB: How do you think college will be now that you have some celebrity?

JM: I have no idea. I literally know nobody out here. … It is weird walking around and seeing people be like, “You were amazing,” and I am like, “No, thank you for letting me be in your living room!” … I think I am still going to be just as lost of a little freshman as I was going to be a few weeks ago.

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Shelley Brown
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