Michael Cameron likes to think of himself as a triple-threat for his ability to act, dance, and skate.
Cameron, an actor and dancer from Heidelberg, scored himself a small role in the movie Score: A Hockey Musical which opened this years Toronto International Film Festival, and he credits his ability to act – and skate – as his keys to success.
“It was almost like a dance audition but it was on skates,” he said with a laugh. “It was good for me because I was one of the only people at the audition who actually played hockey, so I already knew how to skate, where a lot of them weren’t as advanced as I was because of the hockey.”
The movie stars Olivia-Newton John and Noah Reid, a young hockey player who becomes an instant star when he is signed by a junior league team only to discover that fame has its price.
Cameron developed his hockey skills while playing Midget AAA in Waterloo, and even earned a call-up with the Elmira Sugar Kings, promptly scoring in his first game. He is also a prospect for the Kitchener Dutchmen.
His skills as a tap-dancer have helped him develop quicker feet, which is important for hockey.
The 18-year-old has been acting and dancing since he was three years old, and got into it after his two sisters got into dance and his mother thought he should try it too. He excelled as a young dancer, and says that a lot of his earliest acting roles were just because of his appearance.
“A lot of it was based on my looks. I was a cute kid with a bowl cut,” he said.
Growing up, however, he did face some scrutiny from his friends for being a male dancer.
“When I was in Grade 8, I kind of stopped the dance. I wasn’t as serious about it, because there was a lot of getting made fun of. But I got over it once I got to high school.”
It seems that Cameron got the last laugh, though, because in June he was cast as a cheerleader in the new television program Hellcats, which is broadcast on A Channel and The CW Network. The show also stars Ashley Tisdale of High School Musical fame.
“I remember we flew out for the audition in Vancouver, and there must have been 300 people there,” he recalled. “There were so many big-name people there from So You Think You Can Dance, and I got scared.”
The tryout was very intense, and he even injured himself during it, but he fought the fear – and the injury – and earned a part on the show. Now, this small-town kid is living the big-city dream in Vancouver, where the show is filmed.
The show wraps up shooting in November, but he’s been on a break for the last couple of weeks, which allowed him to come home and spend the last bit of summer with his family.
“It’s weird, where I’m living is kind of like Heidelberg – it’s more of a subdivision of Vancouver – but downtown it’s a big city, which I’m not as used to. I just take the bus everywhere. I want to move there now.”
While in Vancouver he is living with his friend’s uncle, which helps cut down on some of the costs – it’s a very expensive place to live, he said.
Cameron plays a cheerleader for the Hellcats cheerleading squad. The show is based on the book “Cheer: Inside the Secret World of College Cheerleaders” by Kate Torgovnick.
When the show wraps up in November, Cameron isn’t sure what will happen next. He hopes it gets continued for a second season, but is making plans in case it isn’t.
“I’m going to start taking acting classes when I return from Vancouver at Dean Armstrong’s Acting Studio in Toronto; he’s really highly recommended. Eventually I want to get bigger roles and become a leading man,” he said.
And he is already earning those bigger roles. He has recently landed a part in West Side Story in Halifax from March to May 2011.
“It’s the number-one musical that 18-year-old guys want to be in, because you’re in a gang,” he said with a grin.
He is also making plans to attend the University of Waterloo so he can study environment and business, and keep his options open.
“I need to have something to fall back on, a degree, in case I can’t dance anymore.”
But for now, he’s just enjoying the opportunity to live in a new city – “I’m young, so I might as well do it!”
And for those who have already seen the show, Cameron has some advice: “Keep watching, because it’s going to get intense!”