Lizzy Small started dancing at the age of two and her love of performance drove her to pursue a career in music and acting. She just released her first single "Gravity" and will star alongside George Lopez in their new movie "Spare Parts," opening in January.
Small manages to balance her already busy schedule with her pursuit of a communications degree at the University of California Santa Barbara. She started her freshman year this fall and joined a sorority with girls who were "just as excited for ["Gravity"] to come out" as Small was.
The 18-year-old performer spoke with Headlines & Global News about her love of performing, shooting the music video for "Gravity" in her backyard and getting seated next to Jamie Lee Curtis at the first "Spare Parts" table read.
Small started to dance soon after she learned to walk and she never looked back.
I've been dancing since I was about two years old. I actually took tap and ballet since the age of two and I just absolutely loved it. I took every dance class that was offered at the studio ever. My mom thought I was crazy because I was like, "I need another dance class. I need another dance class." I took dance all throughout my childhood.
Then when I was about 10 they had this audition at my dance studio for this VH1 reality TV show pilot. I was like, 'Mom, let me audition, let me audition.' So I go to the audition and what it ended up being was a remake of the 'Hey Mickey You're So Fine' video. So that classic, cheerleading music video. They essentially ended up remaking that video and I got cast in it as the tiniest little girl. I was like a little cheerleader dancer. Following that I just told my mom, "I want to do acting. I want to do dancing. I just want to be performing."
I would go from putting on little shows at family barbeques on the table in tutus to actually going to auditions and being repped by an agency. I think dancing is what really led me to wanting to perform because I love being on stage and performing for an audience and that sort of thing.
With the end of her high school career fast approaching, Small wanted to "do something adventurous" while she still had the safety and security of a regular school routine and the love and support of her family. She took the risk and wrote "Gravity" with music writer-producer David Pramik.
I kind of felt like it was my last time to really do all the things I wanted to do before I left for college and embark on this journey. So my manager Michelle introduced me to David Pramik and the first time we ever met, we ended up writing an entire song within two hours. We completely vibed really well together.
Following that, I was having a conversation with Michelle and my mom and I was talking about wanting to write my own music because I've always sang my entire life but I've never written my own music and created a final product with that. We had more meetings with David and we just said, 'Let's go for it. It's my senior year in high school. This is my last time to really go for something and do something I really want to do that I haven't done yet.' So we spent six months during my senior year on and off, meeting in the studio, writing, recording and producing. It was hours and hours but probably one of the best experiences of my entire life.
Small wrote four songs total and plans to release them later next year on EP album after releasing each song individually. She classifies her music as rhythmic pop, a mix between Ellie Goulding and Rihanna, but she draws most of her musical inspiration from her favorite performer, Christina Aguilera.
Growing up, I absolutely loved her because she has such a strong voice for such a little person and I always loved to listen to her songs and belt them out in my room. She's always been someone that I've sort of looked to as a female artist that has inspired the way I sing, the way I write, and the way I look at music.
After being cast in the upcoming "Adam 8" movie, she started to speak with the film's director Sean Williams about her music. He asked to listen to the "Gravity" track and suggested they make a music video for the song. To raise money for the project, Small started a Kickstarter campaign that not only gave her the funds necessary to film the video, but expanded her fan base across the globe.
[We started] with an initial goal of $3000 and we ended up raising over $5000, so it was crazy. I gained cool fans from like Romania and other places, so it was a really cool way to get my music and my desire to want to do this out there.
We ended up using every little bit of resource that we possibly could have had - one day in a studio and one day in my backyard, in my pool and in my house. It was like a huge party. It was kind of funny because my parents ended up selling that house right after we filmed the music video.
"Spare Parts" tells the story of four Hispanic high school students who form a robotic clubs and compete against the biggest tech universities in the country. Small plays the love interest to one of the boys, played by David Del Rio, who attends Cornell University.
We kind of have a little nerd love. I compete in the girls competition and I lose, unfortunately. But it's a really cool story. Sometimes true stories can end up being really cheesy but this has every emotion. It has comedy, it has drama and an inspiring aspect to it.
"Spare Parts" reteamed Small with her "April Apocalypse" co-star George Lopez, who provided the burgeoning actress with some veteran advice.
"My scenes were mainly with George, so we ended up getting a lot of time to talk. After I had finished all my scenes with my love interest (David Del Rio) in the movie, [Lopez] gave me some tips about life and was telling me all these things about how you should always change it up when performing and not be afraid to play around and maybe change the way you say a line. He definitely gave me lots of advice and he was so friendly. Everyone was really funny and made me laugh and everyone was super down to Earth as well."
Small's most nerve-racking day on set came at the movie's first table read when she was placed next to co-star Jamie Lee Curtis. She also looked to Marisa Tomei for acting tips.
My nametag was put there by chance and I thought, "Oh gosh, I would get placed next to Jamie Lee Curtis." I was sitting next to her and we started to chat. She started cracking jokes. She's so funny and so nice. That was my first encounter with her.
And then watching Marisa on set was just unreal because she's such an incredible actress. It was just so fun to watch her tactics on how to get on point for every scene.
The film is one of the first coming of age stories to feature a predominately Hispanic cast. Small, who plays one of the few Caucasian roles even though she's part Puerto Rican, says the movie highlights the boys different backgrounds and their struggles.
It's based on a true story of four boys who come from different lifestyles and different backgrounds and just seeing how people can create something out of nothing. It's really cool how it was a Latino-based cast and it sheds a real light on everything.
Small plans to push her music career over the next year. She and her management will gauge the response to "Gravity" and then assess the possibility of going on tour either as an opening act or doing her own gigs to showcase the four songs off her EP.
"Spare Parts" will premiere on Jan. 16.