Jeanine with boyfriend Beau Mirchoff at a UCLA football game
Before winning Season 5 of “So You Think You Can Dance,” Jeanine Mason was a regular high school senior looking forward to starting college in the fall. But after the TV show jump-started her career, things suddenly didn’t seem quite as straightforward. Here, she tells DS why she decided to go ahead with her college plans (she’s enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles)—and her dance career.
Ever since I was little, I’ve known I wanted to go to college. My mom and dad say education is the one thing no one can ever take away from you, and they’re right. It’s a sacrifice now and then because I have longer hours and a little bit higher stress level than many people my age, but it’s worth it to me. College is going to enrich my life and make me a better person and artist.
Four days after I graduated high school, I moved to L.A. to start shooting “So You Think You Can Dance.” I’d already been admitted to UCLA. When I made it to the “SYTYCD” Top 10, I was excited, but I also had this quiet realization: “Oh my gosh, the tour schedule means I’m not going to be able to start school on time.” For a second, my heart was broken. I had really looked forward to that freshman nervousness, to starting this new chapter in my life. But once UCLA let me know I could start a semester late, in January 2010, I felt better.
Since then, I haven’t stopped. I enroll full-time when possible, but whenever I’m working on a big project like a film, I go part-time, taking only one or two courses. During the summer, I take online classes, which are amazing because I can bring the work with me on dance projects.
Jeanine at the Teen Vogue Young Hollywood party
In addition to my World Arts and Cultures: Dance major, I’m a film minor, studying the behind-the-camera stuff. It’s always interesting to me how my studies mirror my life. Any time I’m learning new academic material, I find a way to use it in my dance work. And the more material I have to pull from, the richer that work becomes.
As for scheduling, I literally have to take it day by day. I try to plan so my college classes are early in the morning, which leaves the rest of the day free for dance. There are times when I have to pack both lunch and dinner, because I know I’m going to be out and about all day: school, then auditions, then rehearsals, then a performance. But any time I think I’m not going to be able to get through everything, I remind myself how proud I’ll be at the end of the day, lying in bed, knowing I did it.
In 10 years, I hope I’ll have a successful film career. Eventually, I want to have my own production company. For now, I’m just taking each semester as it comes. But I’m looking forward to graduation. It’s going to be such a special day for me and my family. It’s close now—it’s in sight. And I’m more excited than ever.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.