We all tuned in to Fox‘s Grease: Live on Sunday, January 31st to see our favorite actors and actresses perform in the American classic. The high-profile cast included Julianne Hough, Vanessa Hudgens, Jessie J, Carly Rae Jepsen, Keke Palmer, Carlos Penavega and many more.
One face you may not have recognized is Cuban-American actress, singer and musician Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, who starred as the iconic role of Cha-Cha, the sultry and flamboyantly attractive (if conceited and vulgar) ex-girlfriend of Danny.
Yvette found early success as the vivacious, guitar playing “Kiki” on Nickelodeon’s critically-acclaimed live-action musical series The Fresh Beat Band. She performed in front of the camera and in front of over half a million fans in sold-out tours around the world. For her work on the show, Yvette was twice-nominated for an Imagen Award, for “Best Young Actress in a Television Series.”
Yvette has also found great success as a recording artist in radio and television, performing under the name Ava Gold where she blends her vibrant Cuban culture with soulful timeless pop hooks, R&B and Latin influences. She recently signed to BMG Publishing and is currently recording her debut album.
CelebSecrets4U spoke with Yvette about her decision to audition for Grease: Live and what it was like to be a part of an American classic. She told us about the “intense rehearsal process” and how she felt about performing a live show in front of a live audience. Plus, she gave us the scoop on her solo project under the name Ava Gold — make sure to read our Q&A with Yvette below.
CS4U: What made you want to audition for Grease Live?
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: “I’ve always been a big fan of movie musicals, and being that “Grease” is such a classic, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it.”
CS4U: You played Cha Cha, Danny’s ex-girlfriend. She wasn’t everyone’s favorite in the movie because most people wanted Danny and Sandy to be together so how waa it playing a character that people already wanted to dislike? How did you channel that character?
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: “Someone once told me that when you are making any kind of art or taking on any creative endeavor, you want people to either love it or to hate it, but to feel something! So it didn’t bother me at all that people weren’t going to like Cha Cha. That’s a good thing! I had so much fun working on the role because she is the polar opposite to me in a lot of ways. Also, I learned a lot about channeling my own confidence by doing this role (in order to do this role) and that was actually pretty incredible.”
CS4U: What was your favorite part about working on this show and what did it mean to you to be a part of an American classic?
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: “It’s such an honor and I know it is something that my cast mates and I did not take lightly. Even from day 1 at the table read, we all looked around and knew that we were about to be a part of something very special. We were very fortunate to have two of the original cast members from “Grease” be a part of our production. Barry Pearl, who played the original Doody and Didi Conn, who was the original Frenchy. Having them on set, brought something magical to the movie and they filled all of our hearts. It’s almost as if they were the guardian angels of “Grease: Live,” making sure that we kept the spirit of “Grease” alive. I have to say that working with this incredible bunch of people was probably my favorite part. I miss everyone already!
CS4U: What were rehearsals like in preparation for it?
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: “It was an intense rehearsal process. The T-Birds & Pink Ladies rehearsed for a month prior to everyone else. Then, they brought in everybody and we worked tirelessly almost everyday, for about 5 weeks altogether. It is such a new and ambitious format for a show. Since it was live, the last few weeks or rehearsal, were more like tech and camera angles/live editing, special effects, etc. It’s crazy how we rehearsed as if we were doing a regular Broadway show, but instead of doing the show for months or years, it was only for one night!”
CS4U: You’ve performed in front of a live audience before so were you nervous about the fact this show is live? Have you taken any trips or falls?
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: “I have been performing my whole life and I don’t really get nervous; it’s more like I get really excited. Anything can happen. I love that rush. As far as if I’ve ever taken any trips and falls, I’m sure I have. But even better, one time I was doing a play and in the final scene, I had to shoot somebody dead. It was definitely the climax, except the gun didn’t go off. You could hear the click of the gun echo through the theatre as the other actors looked at me expectantly. So I just mustered everything in my power and pretended to clobber him dead with my bare hands. I have to say it felt pretty badass.”
CS4U: You went to high school at a pretty young age. How was it reliving those high school days on the set?
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: “So fun! We played games and joked around non-stop on set so it definitely felt like high school.”
CS4U: You’re also working on your own music so can you tell us a little bit about that?
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: “I’m doing a solo project under the name Ava Gold and I’ve been in the studio writing, recording and finishing up my EP. I’ve been putting my whole heart into it, so I’m really excited to show everyone what I’ve been working on. One of my songs, “Classy,” was just featured on ESPN and is available now on iTunes. I also have some shows coming up in Los Angeles and I’ll be putting out a video for one of my songs in a couple of weeks.”
CS4U: Since we are CelebSecrets4U, can you tell us a secret about what went on behind the scenes of Grease Live?
Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: “Behind the scenes, there was a lot of goofing off and a lot of hard work. There are so many things that can happen when trying to pull off such an ambitious production without a net, on live TV, in front of millions. On the day of the show, right here in Los Angeles, where it rarely rains, there was a torrential downpour that stopped only minutes before show time. We had to re-stage the entire opening number, even incorporating the use of umbrellas. It was exciting and scary to see how it was all going to play out But somehow, rain or shine, we did it!”