The Next Step Season 9

Teen actor and dancer Kate Roman has her career goals locked in. Exploring all the places her skills can take her from the stage to the screen has led Kate Roman to roles in everything from commercials and TV shows to theater and film sets. Recently she’s combined her skills to act and dance on the teen drama series The Next Step as Ariana just as the show releases its ninth season and makes its Canadian debut.

The Next Step follows A-Troup through heartbreak, betrayal, and of course, dance competition trials and drama. Kate’s character Ariana brings her acro and lyrical skills to A-Troupe as its dance captain, but she’s not perfect. A former member of the rival team Ultra Elite and co-conspirator to Grace’s plans to sabotage other dancers, Ariana’s journey to the international competition is going to be anything but smooth.

Luckily, we have Kate to take us through the process of filming, being a busy teen star, and the differences between dance and acting as forms of storytelling.

Showstopper Magazine Online: How did you find yourself in the world of acting?

Kate Roman: I started in the performing arts in competitive dance and it’s how I’ve spent the majority of my days since I was 4 years old! I also participated in a few community theater productions. When I was 7, I signed with an agent and auditioned for and booked a few commercials and small acting roles which grew over time to my first lead role on a TV series. The past 12 months have been very exciting, the audition process, filming, doing post-production, promotion, and now watching it air in various countries to a lot of positive reviews by fans.

SMO: And acting isn’t the only thing filling your days. Do you go to school?

Kate: I attend a regular high school with a full course load and enjoy some extra-curricular activities including DECA (business case competition) and track and field. 

Kate at Showstopper Grand Island 2013

SMO: You are trained in seven genres of dance. What are they?

Kate: I have been a competitive dancer for 12 years as a top award-winning soloist, duet/trio and group member at various competitions across North America. Showstopper Grand Island and national finals in Myrtle Beach were always a favorite (hi Julian!). There isn’t a more perfect day when you can perform on stage with your dance besties and then jump in the ocean with a board and body surf!

I train at Canadian Dance Company under the direction of Allain Lupien which has an excellent and well-rounded full-time competitive program. I supplement my training with conventions and summer programs internationally. The styles I have trained in include ballet/pointe, jazz, contemporary, tap, hip hop, acro, and ballroom. I had my first solo at age six—it was a jazz solo to the song “Lollipop!”

SMO: Do you have a favorite genre?

Kate: My love for all of these styles just grew exponentially from there the more I was exposed. They are all different, but as dancers know, a solid foundation is key. I enjoy contemporary and jazz styles most, and I like to incorporate athletic moves to show my strength and technique in combination. As I get older, I’m sure these favorites will evolve. Ballroom class is always lots of fun too! 

SMO: How does your dance background play a role in your work as an actor? 

Kate: My years of dance training have conditioned me to have a high level of self-discipline, time-management skills, and the ability to thrive under pressure. These transferable skills really benefited my acting journey. Showing up for 5:30 am call times day after day takes effort, even when you love the work!

The last four years I focussed more of my time and energy into my acting training and having that work ethic and inner confidence was a huge part of me being able to deal with rejection (which is so common in this industry) and just keep pursuing what I love to do. 

Vita Cooper

SMO: You have worked in a variety of roles from music videos to TV, movies, and musical theater. How do these formats differ for you? Do you have a favorite? 

Kate: I did community musical theater when I was younger, my favorite role I played was Nala in The Lion King. Currently I’m focusing more on acting and dancing on camera, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t be interested in the right theater role if it came along!

These formats have both similarities and differences. I grew up competing in dance on stage; in other words, live performances. There is so much preparation done in training and rehearsals, and only one chance to perform. This is all about being able to think quickly on your feet and adapt to what’s happening in the moment. I loved doing improv battles too, always a challenge and fun at the same time! It’s such a joy performing for a huge audience with all the lights shining, feeling that rush of energy.

Acting, though, is where I can play more. There is more room to take risks and try new things with each take. It lets my creative side take the reins and enjoy being present in the moment. Whether it be a TV series, film, or music video, a lot of the same things apply: you need to know your role going in, listen well to direction, adapt to the director’s notes, and make it look fresh every time. All of these formats bring something unique to the experience, and I hope I can continue to work in a variety of roles and mediums in the future. 

SMO: Tell us about your role in The Next Step. How did you bring Ariana to life? 

Kate: Ariana is a very complex character with many layers. She’s not what people think she is; deep down she has a good heart. She comes from a rival studio with some bad intentions: facing betrayal, conflict, toxic friendships, and more. Ariana has a great story arc—that’s what I love about her. When bringing her to life, I could relate as I’ve navigated my own obstacles growing up, and I’m still figuring out the kind of person I want to be in this world. I worked with my acting coach as well as meetings with the showrunners/directors/writers on set to talk about the character and what each scene required. 

SMO: It seems like Ariana isn’t always a team player, sabotaging other dancers on A-Troupe. How did you approach those scenes? 

Kate: I love playing up some drama and mischief in scenes. It’s really fun. For Ariana, it was all about the art of manipulation, leading people on with different ideas then switching it up. One of our directors, Mitchell Ness would always joke in this one scene saying, “Wow, you really have him wrapped around your finger there!” I guess I was good at it! The plot lines for the show mimic real situations in the dance studio world, even though some are exaggerated; [it’s] one of the reasons why there is such a huge and loyal fan base these past ten years. It’s drama-filled and relatable.

SMO: What is it like behind the scenes of a dance TV show? 

Kate: Busy, busy, busy! There are so many moving pieces needed to make a show happen. The first few weeks before filming consist of meetings, fittings, and rehearsals, which can continue throughout the course of filming. We’ve had some early mornings for sure, but the excitement of filming the show and getting to work with such talented artists (who have become friends) takes any tiredness away!

When filming begins, I arrive to set and immediately get processed (hair/makeup/wardrobe), sometimes I’ll have some downtime after that or will go straight to blocking. Then we shoot! After a long day, it’s straight home to relax and review my scenes for the following day.

It truly takes a village and lots of teamwork to produce a show and would not be possible without each cast and crew member doing their part. I had one day off after returning home from nationals with my studio last summer, and then I had my first fitting and rehearsal, it was non-stop for months. 

Emily and Kate Roman, photo credit: Jordan Matter

SMO: Your on-screen big sister is your real-life older sister Emily. How did working with your sister impact the role?

Kate: My sister is my best friend in the whole world. We have the strongest bond. I have learned so much from Emily over the years, from the early dance competition days and now in acting. She is an incredible performer in many aspects. Working with her made my whole TNS experience that much more meaningful. In our scenes, there’s just an added special energy emanating through the screen that shows the true connection our characters have. I remember the night before we filmed a big scene together. We were running it, just having the best time and laughing. [I was] thinking, “Just how cool is this that we get to do this together?!” Surreal and very special indeed. I can’t wait to work on more projects together.

SMO: Alongside acting, you are a competitive dancer. How do you balance dance and acting and the areas where they overlap? 

Kate: Time-wise it’s always a challenge. We all only have 24 hours in a day. Right? Competitive dance can have an extremely demanding schedule with little to no vacation time. It requires a lot of discipline, organization, sacrifice, and flexibility. Time for homework, meals, and snacks need to be organized in advance. I always had really great communication with my mom and this helped a lot.

Artistically, dance and acting are both beautiful methods of storytelling. The biggest difference for me is balancing the level of control. In dance, it is all about nailing key movements and putting in so much effort to control each movement. Acting however has taught me to be grounded and stay in the moment. Just as in real life, we can’t control what happens, only how we react to it. I’ve been learning to allow things to happen as they are, and let the scene take its course whichever way—often leading to unique and surprising outcomes! When working on The Next Step, on days where I’d be filming a dance then jumping right into a scene, I made sure to take a second and be grounded and in the moment, not dwelling on the work I just did or I have to do, just being in the present.

Previous articleBehind The Glamour: Celebrities Breaking the Stigma on Invisible Illnesses
Next articleJaidyn Triplett on Meeting Her Idols and Manifesting “Bop Star” Status
Veronica Good has been with Showstopper Magazine since 2016. When she isn't keeping you updated on the latest trends, she is at home with her many pets or probably playing The Sims 4. Veronica has a BA in English and an MA in writing from Coastal Carolina University. She is also a writer of fiction and poetry, and her work can be found in Archarios, Tempo, and Scapegoat.