Take it from Olivia Matter: It’s important to check your DMs.
After all, it can take just one important message to lead a dance student to a rehearsal, and then suddenly onto the set of a new Netflix movie.
“Senior Year” is a new comedy starring Rebel Wilson which will premiere on Friday, May 13. In the film, Wilson plays a cheerleader who falls into a coma in the year 2002 and wakes up in 2022, ready to reclaim her spot among the high school hierarchy.
Among the ranks of the modern-day cheerleading squad is Matter, who moved from Landisville to Atlanta, Georgia, just as COVID-19 came to the US in March 2020. Prior to the move, Matter spent the majority of her teen years at Morton’s Dance Center in Landisville, where she studied under the tutelage of owner Elijah Morton.
Soon after moving to Atlanta, Matter began taking lessons at Dance 411 from instructor Brooke Bowe. After only a few months at the school, which also has its own in-house talent agency, Matter received that fateful Direct Message.
The email led to an audition, and the audition led quickly on to securing the role – with rehearsals to follow only a week and a half later.
“I moved to Atlanta to be a better dancer and had been in competitive dancing in the prior years,” Matter explains. “(Acting)wasn’t even on my radar. I had just moved here and was still training and finding my way. It was something that I didn’t expect to experience so soon. ”
While Matter wasn’t a cheerleader in high school, she says she quickly picked up on the requisite skills thanks to Bowe, who is serving as assistant choreographer and Wilson’s stunt-double and the film’s main choreographer, Aakomon Jones.
“That was something where I was thinking, ‘Wow, maybe I missed out on something as a kid because being a cheerleader is amazing,” Matter says. “(Bowe) said,
Though the line was somewhat blurred between roles, Matter says that the majority of the “squad” came from Dance 411, which helped her to be more comfortable on her first movie set. While her character doesn’t have a given name, Matter says that she was encouraged to be herself, which ultimately created the feeling that she was simply playing a version of herself on screen.
As for the film’s star, Matter says that she was already a fan of Rebel Wilson going in but left the experience an even bigger fan.
“She is wonderful and extremely funny,” Matter says. “The energy in the room was always good, because the choreographer had worked with her on all of the ‘Pitch Perfect movies.’ Everything flowed really nicely. The first day, she was in rehearsal with us and had just gotten off of a plane from London. She had an excellent work ethic and jumped right in with us. ”
Matter’s appreciation of work ethic comes in part from her years with Morton, who says in his 10 years of teaching at his studio, she is one of only a handful of students with the requisite drive to succeed as a dancer.
“Although there are dancers that want to do it recreationally or up until their senior year, they can still look at this and say ‘Wow, what a milestone.’” Morton says of Matter’s success. “There is no end all be all, and I’m sure Olivia would tell you – she’s at the pinnacle of her dance right now, but there’s a bigger door of opportunity ready to open up that she doesn’t even know yet. ”
Matter is indeed up in the air about her next moves, be they on a dance floor or soundstage or in a concert hall. Just in considering all the paths she could go on, Matter rattles off potential careers like choreographer, music video dancer and actress.
However, her time working on “Senior Year” might lead to another possibility that Matter had not even considered before she set foot on set.
“I found a new passion for fitness (on set), being on the film opened my eyes towards the potential for stunt work as well as dancing, since they all go hand in hand,” Matter says.
The May 15 premiere of “Senior Year” will not only be the public’s first time seeing the completed film, but also Matter’s. While there is currently no plan for a watch party, Matter says that she’s excited to take the lessons she learned on set and apply them to whatever role she dances her way into next.
“With this experience, to come home – I grew up as a dancer at Morton’s, I was there for eight years – and share my experiences with everyone, the younger dancers, has been one of the most rewarding things, ”Matter says. “As much as every one of those kids loves dance, it’s not something that everyone wants to go on to do, like a college football player. So, for the kids who are looking to make this their profession, I want to tell them, it is real, it can be a possibility, you just have to keep going and take big chances. ”