December 9, 2020
Dancing is in Erin Banks’ blood. Her mother was a dancer and inspired Banks’ passion, which started at the age of six. Banks is a first-year Honors student at TCU, majoring in dance with concentrations in ballet and modern dance.
The Atlanta native started off with hip-hop and ballet and progressed into learning other styles. “I competed in dance for a long time and eventually started to take it more seriously and to train professionally,” she said.
In early 2019, Banks’ home studio in Atlanta canceled classes to allow dancers a chance to attend open auditions for a movie directed by Debbie Allen that would begin filming in the summer, “Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square.”
“I didn’t even want to audition,” Banks reflected, “But since the studio canceled classes, I figured I may as well.”
After an audition and two call-backs, Banks got the news – she was in!
Filming on the movie was set to begin in the summer, but Banks had an anticipated scheduling conflict. “I was actually going to go to New York for a summer dance intensive, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to film for the entire movie,” she said. “I was hoping I would get into at least one scene.”
A week before rehearsals and filming began, Banks received a special opportunity from Debbie Allen herself – a request to audition for a small speaking role in the film. The audition was a success, and Banks earned the part.
When she arrived on set to begin filming, Banks could scarcely believe it. “It was my first time being on a film set. The entire time I was thinking, ‘Is this even real?’ I even had my own trailer with a star with my name on it!”
“It was interesting to be on set as both a dancer and actress,” Banks remembered. “In between takes, I constantly had people rushing up to me to touch-up my hair and makeup, whereas the people who were there just as dancers didn’t get that sort of ‘special treatment.’”
Though she didn’t get a chance to meet Dolly Parton before she had to leave for New York, Banks did get to meet actress Jennifer Lewis. “I had never met a real celebrity like that before!” she enthused.
Now on the Netflix, the film is just in time for the Christmas season. “It was exciting to see it all pieced together,” Banks said. “There were a lot of scenes I remembered from shooting that didn’t quite make it into the final movie and it was interesting to see what did.”
With big ambitions for the future, Banks hopes that this experience is just the first of many. She is hopeful that her dancing will take her both to the stage and the screen, with aspirations to dance both in concert settings (like with a major dance company in New York) and in commercial settings (like movies, music videos or Broadway).