O.C.'s Cheetah Girl back in the spotlight
Sabrina Bryan has a new movie and tour with her Disney Channel trio.
By PETER LARSEN
The Orange County Register
When last we saw Sabrina Bryan, she'd just exited "Dancing With The Stars" – too soon, many fans felt – and was headed for India to shoot the third Cheetah Girls movie in the Disney Channel series that made her a star.
"The Cheetah Girls One World" movie premieres at 8 p.m. Friday, so we rang up Bryan to chat with her about everything from how it was to live and work in India for two months to what eventually happened between her and "Dancing With The Stars" partner Mark Ballas.
Making the movie was a lot of fun, Bryan says, cheerful and bubbly as always when she comes on the phone.
"It was SO awesome," she said. "We just felt so blessed that we were getting a chance to do another crazy adventure in a country we knew nothing about."
For their last movie, Bryan and Cheetah co-stars Adrienne Bailon, Kiely Williams and Raven-Symoné traveled to Barcelona to sing and dance and romance.
This time, Raven-Symoné isn't in the picture as Bryan and the other Cheetahs fly to India in search of a part in a Bollywood movie music, a trip unlike anything the Yorba Linda native had ever experienced.
She had studied books and other research on India. She endured 14 shots to vaccinate against possible illnesses – "And I am deathly afraid of needles, so I wasn't that excited about that."
But when she finally reached the colorful, exotic land, "words cannot describe how beautiful it was," Bryan says.
"For the first two weeks we were in Mumbai, rehearsing there," she says. "That city is kind of like India's L.A. sort of vibe – it's really super busy, packed with people. It's like New York with crazy traffic.
"And then we spent the rest of the time in a beautiful country area, with beautiful landscapes and insane architecture," Bryan says of shooting in and around the city of Udaipur. "It was more like stepping out into the country. Like when you step out of L.A. and go to Orange County, you've got more green areas."
In the movie, the three Cheetahs have just graduated from high school and are trying to figure out to do next with their lives – will they stick together or will the normal pressures of growing up pull them apart? They fly to India thinking they are all up for parts in a Bollywood movie, only to discover that there's one part, and they're up against each other for it.
"I think it's about how a lot of times, especially for girls, you start to realize that you don't have to do the same things that your friends do, and it's almost as important to respect each others differences and different dreams," Bryan says.
And, of course, in the end they work it all out, amid the over-the-top song-and-dance numbers for which the Indian film industry is famed.
"That's what I'm most excited for everyone to see," Bryan says. "It's kind of like an inside look into what a Bollywood film is all about, just a vibe of lots of huge musical numbers with lots of dancers.
"The coolest thing is that it's really how people dress in India," she says of the scenes into which the Cheetahs land. "That's what so great about this movie, you really get a sense of cows roaming in the streets, elephants in the street, all the crazy things you see there."
After two months in India for the film, anyone else might have taken a well-deserved month off, but that's not the way Bryan lives or works.
"I've had a ton of stuff, as far as what I've been doing with myself," she says.
There's "Princess of Gossip," the young adult novel she wrote, which will be released on Oct. 8, a story inspired by discovering that people had created fake MySpace pages for her and her Cheetah sisters.
In the story a young teen moved to Los Angeles by her dad's job transfer stumbles onto a piece of juicy gossip, posts it online and soon finds herself popular as a hot gossip blogger, before "it ends up spinning out of line and she discovers how hurtful that can be."
There's also a second DVD for her BYOU dance fitness program, aimed at teaching young girls healthy, fun ways to keep in shape, another project she completed while waiting for the new Cheetah movie to premiere and the new Cheetah tour to kick off.
For now, the tour – 50 cities, including Honda Center in Anaheim – is the main focus of her work, with song choices, rehearsals, and wardrobe taking up time every day.
"We're actually having a hard time cutting out numbers," she says of the work of picking which songs get in the show and which are left out. "At this point we have three soundtracks, one album and even a Christmas album. And also songs from different Disney CDs."
Because of all the work, she decided to rent her home in Orange County and move into a place with Cheetah co-star Williams.
"I still have a personal life – I'm lucky enough to work with people who are my best friends – so any time you're at rehearsals it's like we're hanging out," Bryan says.
Ah, yes, the personal life. By the end of "Dancing With The Stars," it became apparent that the dance partners were romantic, too. A few months later, after her work in India and his second season on "Dancing With The Stars," their busy schedules had cooled things off.
Still, they remain close friends, Bryan says.
"I think right now we're just really supporting each other," she says. "He came to the premiere, but he's got a lot on his plate, getting ready to start another season (of 'Dancing'), and his album."
And then as gracefully as a Viennese waltz, she glides back to the subject of the new Cheetah movie, saying that all she really wants is for fans to like it as much as they have the previous two.
"I just want to say thank you again, especially to all the fans that are in Orange County," Bryan says. "I have gotten so many great responses from them, and so much support that I couldn't be more proud."