After placing third on Season 1 of
"Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition,"
followed by a scene-stealing turn on Season 3 of Lifetime's
Asia Monet Ray could have easily hung up her dancing shoes. But Ray had big dreams she still wanted to achieve, like having her own show,
and recording an album.
got a chance to catch up with the 9-year-old Beyonce-in-the-making, as well as her mother Kristie, to find out their thoughts on everything from weird fan encounters, to what the tricks are to keeping a budding star grounded in show business today.
Zap2it: You have said you want to be the next Beyonce. Why her?
Asia Monet Ray:
I chose Beyonce as a role model because she's the absolute best at what she does! She sings, acts, and dances ... all the things I enjoy doing. She has done it much longer and had a lot more success than most. I see her as strong, powerful, and creative! Everything she does seems to be above the competition, which makes me work harder now so hopefully I can achieve half of what she has. Also, did I mention she's beautiful!
Describe Abby Lee Miller in three words.
Aggressive, because she lets you know what she wants and helps you give it to her to the best of your ability. Consistent, because she always reminds us that, no matter in victory or defeat, there is always someone out there that's working harder or is better than we are. Successful, because there is no one I have met so far that's more determined to get the best out of her dancers through hard work, practice and competitions.
Plus, she has all the trophies and awards to prove it, not to mention the TV shows, workshops, and businesses that are incredibly successful! I admire how hard she works to help others like me.
What is your favorite song to dance to?
I dance to almost anything with a good beat, but mostly to music by Beyonce, Janet Jackson and Lady Gaga. I really can't choose just one song, because I can never stop dancing after just one. Right now I'm dancing to my own songs, because they're mine! They're available now on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and my website:
What is your favorite part of having your own show "Raising Asia"?
Being with my family full time! I liked being on the other shows, but I was away from my sister Bella Blu and my dad ... I missed them a lot. On my show, we are together all the time and I can share my dream of performing with them. They help me in so many ways, especially my mom, but everyone has a role to play in helping me get to the top! I'm very blessed with a supportive and loving family, even when things get a little crazy at times.
What has been your craziest fan encounter?
First off, I'd like to say thank you to all my fans for their support and encouragement. If I had to choose one encounter, I'd say one of my fans actually asked if they could come over my house and start a singing group with me and my sister Bella. I thought that was crazy because my sister is a gymnast, and she's a bit shy, so I don't know why this person would think I was interested in singing in a group.
What celebrity would you like to meet the most and why?
Hello! Beyonce, call me sometime, girlfriend -- we can catch up! All kidding aside, I'd love to meet Oprah Winfrey, because she has done so many things in her life and given so much to so many people as a result of her success. I think it would be cool to just shake her hand and let her know that we notice her generosity and appreciate her hard work. I'd also like to one day meet Ellen DeGeneres, because I know she loves to dance, she's super funny and she loves kids! We watch her show all the time and, like Oprah, she's amazing with the way she relates to people. She gives so many people opportunities to show their talents on her TV show. She's a class act. I'd love to be on her show one day ... that would be a dream come true!
When you were competing a lot, did you have any good luck charms, or rituals you relied on before every competition?
When I was competing I simply relied on my training. My parents built a dance room in our house so I could practice at home, because I couldn't stop dancing! I think knowing my routines as well as I did before I competed gave me an added edge in confidence. My dad always said 'Perfect Practice Make Perfect!' While my mom coached my practice at home until it was perfect after my instructors showed me what to do. It paid off! I have a ton of trophies to remind me that perfect practice does make perfect!
What is your greatest weakness? What is your greatest strength?
My weakness is ice cream and candy. I have a sweet tooth that I have to fight to control sometimes because I'm genetically muscular like my dad. My greatest strength is that I'm not very shy, which everyone tells me is a huge plus when it comes to acting & performing. I think it helps me because I'm not afraid of failure or being embarrassed over making a mistake. Those are a part of life and I'm not afraid if people laugh at me, because I would just laugh with them. My parents have prepared me for success and with success comes failure sometimes. I'm OK with either one.
What super power would you like to have?
I wish I could fly! If I could fly, I could visit more places and get things done in a day that sometimes take me a week to do. Living in Southern California there is so much traffic on the road it takes forever to get to my rehearsals and practices. Plus, if I could fly, I could visit my dad when he's working and still sneak back to perform before anyone found out.
Is there a celebrity that you have met and been starstruck by?
Yes, I've met a lot of celebrities, including the Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno, who's a friend of my dad , and Mary Murphy from 'So You Think You Can Dance'. Also, World Boxing Champion, Sugar Ray Leonard and, most recently, Scooter Braun who manages Justin Bieber. I'd say I was most impressed by meeting Abby Lee Miller, because she was a person I watched on TV and thought was really good. Then, the next thing you know, she's helping me fulfill my dream as a dancer! That was an amazing time in my life ... when we first met I was only six years old.
What's a surprising activity you do in your free time?
I love to swim with my friends, Jersey and Jaslyn. We used to be next door neighbors, but my family moved, so it's extra special when we get together and swim. I also draw a lot too. I love drawing and creative things like that.
What is your favorite food?
I love steak and ice cream! Not together, but in general.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three things with you, what would they be?
First, I'd need my Mac Book Pro and Wifi connection so I could download music and movies. Next, I'd need my sister, Bella Blu, because she's my best friend and I have to watch over her. Finally, I'd need my blanket, pillow, and American Girl Doll or else I won't be able to sleep very well at night! Oops, was that more than three things? Oh well, I'd need all of this or I'd never survive!
If you could travel to anywhere in the world where would you go?
I'd go to Paris, France! All of the hair and make up people, along with the fashion people I've worked with, say that's were the best shopping is and it's beautiful! I want to find out first hand! I'll get there one day probably sooner than later, because everybody knows I'm a shopaholic like my mom!
Where do you get your energy from?
I have always had a lot of energy my mom says. I'm a lot like both my parents, because at a young age I am interested in things I love. That makes me happy, which helps get me out of bed each day. I keep my school grades up, which allows me to do thing that make me happy, so I get excited! Who doesn't want to sing, dance and act? This is who I am! I get energized each day and feel very blessed that I can perform for people. I'm like the Energizer Bunny that just keeps going and going.
Do you have any advice for young girls out there who want to follow in your footsteps?
Well my parents constantly remind me that school comes first! As long as my grades are good and I get great report cards, they will continue to let me pursue my passion. It's important to get good grades so that I'm prepared for my future. So I encourage all the other kids that if they want to succeed get good grades and the rest will come.
How do you deal with mean girls?
My parents have taught me since a very early age that there will be a lot of people genuinely happy for me if I became a success, but there would be just as many that will dislike me because of it. I'm experiencing some of that now, but I use them as motivators. Nothing bothers them more than continuing to be successful. I pray for them, but I rarely think about them because I'm too busy working and focusing on myself.
What did you find most challenging about being on "Dance Moms"?
Simply being away from home for 10 weeks, missing my birthday at home, mom's birthday at home, my sister's first day of school, being away from my dad and my bird. We make a lot of sacrifices as a family, but luckily my parents understand what I'm trying to do. They have both been used to making sacrifices, being that they are both former competitive athletes.
You are so confident at such a young age, have you always been like that or where does that come from?
My mom and dad have always told me I was special and I could be the best at whatever I did. They instilled in me that you can't win if you don't play. They have prepared my sister and I for winning! They're always telling me it's OK to lose, but it's much more fun when you win! That's always motivated me to practice harder and prepare more than others. It helps that my parents are both former athletes and competitors, that's for sure!
What are your goals for the next year?
I plan on releasing more music, working more in TV, and hitting a concert tour! I'd love to come out with some products I like, but we are working on different things now...so much is happening at a very fast pace.
Where did the inspiration for the songs from your album come from?
My songs and music are an extension of who I am. I have a lot of dreams and hopes, not only for me, but my fans, so I sing about that stuff -- family, friendships, and fun! My music is all uplifting and motivational!
Many young performers these days are playing their own instruments, is this something you would like to incorporate in your own work? If so, what instrument?
No, I'm not so interested at the moment in playing an instrument as much as I am interested in improving my vocal instrument. I never say never, though!
What do you do to battle nerves?
I really don't have any nerves when it comes to performance, which I guess is a blessing I've been given. I just love performing.
What is something you would love for your fans to see on "Raising Asia"?
It's a half hour show, but there's a lot we just don't have time to show because it's all about the performance. It doesn't show much family time, church, playtime and things like that. We do go to the beach, the movies, and the park. We have a lot of family outings that don't involve work or business that I would like to be shown.
If you could record a duet with anyone who would it be?
For sure it would be Beyonce!
Zap2it: What are your tricks to balancing your role in Asia's career, with being a mother, wife and business woman?
I simply protect, provide, and guide! I'm her mother first and foremost, but I also put myself in
's shoes as a performer when she's out there so I make sure she is being treated properly and most of all has fun!
I work on
Asia's behalf ensuring that she only needs to focus on her performance, not the rest of what's going on around her.
How are you making sure Asia stays grounded and doesn't fall into the partying path of many young stars?
I keep her very busy, too busy at times to fall into the problem area a lot of kids have when they have too much idle time on their hands. We are together a lot so I keep her close to family, the Church, and childhood friends she grew up with. My husband and I remind her how fortunate and blessed she is to be a role model to other kids and keep her aware of the bad things that can happen to good people like her.
What has been the most challenging part for you about filming "Raising Asia" and what has been the most rewarding?
The challenge has been the lack of privacy regarding tons of cameras and crew in our personal space for 14 weeks. I never really adjusted to the filming hours and lack of sleep a show like this imposes on a family. I didn't even have time to run personal errands and properly clean my house. It was a crazy filming schedule. I think the most rewarding aspect of the show is that we went through it all as a family, including my sister, who now can appreciate some of the craziness regarding my family's schedule. My mom is amazingly supportive and helps when she can no matter what our schedule is. Most of all my husband, who has been extremely patient and supportive taking time away from his work and schedule to help support and build the career path
has chosen. He doesn't just pay the bills and expenses, he's physically present and involved! Lastly, after we wrapped the show, I got some much needed time with my youngest Bella Blu who is
's biggest fan!
Watching this show come together was tough in the beginning, but the reward was seeing
become a real performer, actor and singer! It is something we told her she would be one day if she worked hard enough, we just never imagined it would happen so fast. When it comes to
Monet we shouldn't be surprised! We are all very proud of where this journey has brought us.
"Raising Asia" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images, Courtesy of Asia Monet Ray