Will Kemp leaps, lands in ABC’s new dance show ‘Grace’
Will Kemp has landed a lead role in the ABC pilot Grace, a dysfunctional family drama set in the world of dance. Perfect timing for a dance-oriented TV series given the success of Darren Aronofsky‘s Black Swan and the fascination with the sensual but brutally punishing dance world.
And it’s also perfect casting because Will just happens to be the real deal, an accomplished, classically trained British dancer who has now moved into acting.
Kemp was a lead dancer in Matthew Bourne’s productions of Swan Lake, Cinderella and Car Man. You may also remember him as the Gap Hunk dancing his own choreographed moves for their Every Generation campaign. And he appeared in Equus with Daniel Radcliffe on London’s West End.
I caught up with Will on his way to a wardrobe fitting (and we can only hope there will be tights) on the Disney lot and he sounds seriously over the moon about the pilot.
“I’m very excited about the pilot because Krista Vernoff (writer and exec producer) and her team are creating a really beautiful story with interesting family dynamics and dance world relationships,” Will said. “We are only in the early stages but so far it’s been a great experience and a really creative family to be a part of. If it gets picked up then it could just be a dream job of blending my dance experience with being on an innovative and original TV show in LA.”
On the dancing he says, “We have a company of fantastic dancers and Mia Michaels has created some amazing dances, a kind of contemporary dance fusion, constantly surprising and unpredictable – it’s very sexy and steeped in emotion and integrity.”
Will plays Nicky– – the assistant choreographer to philandering choreographer named Michael Grace, (Eric Roberts) who bed hops with ballerinas and has three daughters from three women. When Michael Grace’s daughter (Abigail Spencer) takes over to manage the studio for her father, Will’s Nicky, a funny, smart and talented choreographer himself, becomes her right hand man.
Ironically, Will’s own life story sounds like rather like the dance movie Billy Eliot.
At age 9, Will’s mum got him into dance class where his skills were discovered. He joined the Royal Ballet Seniors and later the Royal Ballet Upper Class. At 17, Will joined Bourne’s dance company, Adventures in Motion Pictures (AMP), and was cast for the original Swan Lake, working his way up to the lead role. During a performance as the Swan, Will was spotted by Paramount studio head, Sherry Lansing who dubbed him the “James Dean of Ballet”. He’s also appeared The Prisoner, several BBC TV productions as well as movies including Van Helsing, Step Up 2: The Streets, Mindhunters and Miguel and William.
“Mad Men” Lesli Linka Glatter is directing the pilot, which has Flody Suarez as an exec producer, joining Vernoff and Dancing with the Stars very own Carrie Ann Inaba. The full cast: Eric Roberts (Michael Grace), Abigail Spencer (Sarah Grace), Sherri Saum (Shayna), Anabelle Acosta (Eden), Will Kemp (Nicky), Chantz Simpson (Joseph), Eion Bailey (Adam), Robert Hoffman (Justin), Debbie Allen (Helen, guest star).
In case you missed it, here’s Will in his Gap ad:
And snippets of Will in Car Man: