Unissa Crusse Ferguson ’11 in Hairspray Live!
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Hairspray Live premiered on December 7, 2016. Unless you have been living under a rock, you definitely heard about Mercy alumna Unissa Crusse Ferguson ’11 being cast as a dancer in this production. The whole production was amazing and it was star-studded, with Derek Hough, Ariana Grande, and Jennifer Hudson all playing main roles. I got a chance to interview Unissa about everything from the audition to the end of the journey.
- What was the audition process like?
I lined up at 8:15 in the morning. The judges had us all do the choreography outside for the helicopter above us and to get us pumped for auditions. We finally went inside a little bit before noon. I changed into my audition outfit and applied a little makeup. I practiced the choreography a little and talked to a few friends to keep myself occupied while I was waiting. Everyone was asked to audition in groups of ten. My group finally lined up (I was number 1099) and we waited for about 45 minutes. When it was my group’s turn, we auditioned and switched lines. After the first round of roughly 250 of us, many were eliminated. About 30-40 of us made it to the semi-finalist round. From here, we went down to 17, then, 5, and then the top 3 finalists. I cried when I found out that I had made it to the top three. I would’ve never expected it in a million years.
- What did it fell like when you found out you were chosen?
Once I actually won, it was exciting but it didn’t feel real. I kept feeling like it was a prank or a dream. I was so happy and a little in disbelief. When WBAL TV 11 came to my house, Megan Pringle (reporter) and the camera crew were so warm and nice to me.
- What was it like rehearsing with some of the people in the cast like Derek Hough, Jennifer Hudson, and etc.?
Derek is so nice and sweet. He’s a goofball in an awesome way and very warm and welcoming. I loved watching him rehearse because he really owns the camera and I love it. He’s such a natural and its so inspiring. Jennifer is so down to earth and kind. She was very warm from the minute she met me and even said she liked my curly hair. She’s also very funny and honest and I love it. We had a great conversation about the entertainment industry and she helped me make a few decisions. She and my mom also had a great conversation as well. Kristen Chenoweth is a pure gem! Literally a darling! So carefree and always smiling! She told my mom great things about me, which I really appreciated. She even facetimed my friend Jarrell who absolutely loves her work. I can’t wait to see her again in the future!
- What are you leaving Hairspray Live with?
Hopefully fond memories of a girl who just wants to dance forever. Hopefully, they’re proud of choosing me. I was friendly, always focused, and genuinely happy to interact with everyone.
- Do you have anything else you would like to talk about or share about the experience?
A huge thanks to Greg Graham and Brooke Engen for helping me throughout the process. They taught me all of the choreography (created by Jerry Mitchell) and I was so thankful that they showed me lots of love and support from the beginning. Receiving direction from Kenny Leon was awesome as well. I love how supportive and encouraging and professional he is.
Thank you to Unissa for taking her time to answer these questions. I would also like to congratulate Unissa on this production! She did great and made all her Mercy Sisters proud! We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her!