Mollee Gray danced her way into the hearts of Disney fans in 2006, appearing in the network’s hit film “High School Musical.” The Utah native went on to appear in the film’s sequels as well as the “Teen Beach Movie” series, which followed years after. Now, Gray is moving on to new territory, tackling roles outside the traditional child star mold.
The 24-year-old actress landed a leading role in the indie film “South 32,” which premiered in select theaters on April 15. The film centers around sisters Delilah (Melissa Archer) and Courtney (Gray), who are thrown into some heavy situations throughout. According to Gray, the trouble begins when her character — who was bullied at a young age — decides to go Greek. While pledging a sorority she’s faced with hazing which goes just a hare too far, leaving her and her sister in harm’s way.
“The bullying gets to an all-time high and Courtney has to take matters into her own hands,” Gray explained to International Business Times. “Delilah being a protective and sympathetic sister decides to take matters into her own hands.”
The fictional movie provides a very real look at the issues of bullying, hazing and what can happen when they go too far. Gray told IBT she was instantly drawn to the role in “South 32” because of the wide range of emotions it allowed her and her co-stars to experience on screen. In fact, she said there were times during filming that she couldn’t believe real people experience some of the things she was acting out. She turned to director Jake Barsha, who assured her there was no exaggeration in the film.
“I asked our director if this stuff was over-exaggerated in the script or if it really happened like that, because I couldn’t believe it,” Gray shared. “When he told me it was very real, I did some research and I was completely shocked. To say my mind was blown is an understatement.”
So how does one go from dancing on Disney to starring in a murderous thriller? “Tastefully,” according to Gray. She explained that while she is “completely honored” to have been a part of both “High School Musical” films and “Teen Beach Movie” the time was right to move on. Gray said she made sure to be careful to include her fans in her transition as much as possible, as she feels that she owes much of her career to them.
“I definitely think there is a tasteful way to make the jump, not only for myself, but for my fans. They deserve the respect, as they are a crucial part of my career,” she said. “I made the jump subconsciously and tastefully and I don’t think my fans disagree with me doing so.”
As for what’s next for Gray, that’s anyone’s guess. The actress tells IBT she has “some fun things brewing,” but kept a tight lid on what those things might be. Be sure to keep it locked on her Twitter and Instagram for the latest.