Rachael Ma has memorized the corners of the white dance studio where she leads a group of girls in dance class. She's in her mother's dance studio, Dance Dimensions, in Fort Lauderdale. It's the place where Ma started to dream of show business.
That dream is unfolding. Ma earned a speaking role in Monday's episode of "SMASH." The part and the dance number took about 15 hours on set.
"Of course you have to perform your expected professional skills while you're star struck and at the same time, wanting to say like, this is the most fun I've ever had in my life!"
Ma left her home in Boca Raton to be one of the countless hopefuls who brave New York City for their shot at show business.
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"I got a phone call and it's like, can you be at this audition in two hours? And I had nothing with me and I made it happen, and I was just like, I need this job!"
She returns to Florida from time to time to choreograph. She stands at 4'11" and her teenage students are often taller than she is.
"I don't do any odd jobs. I do wear many hats, I do a lot of jobs," she said.
Her dance background has helped her to stay a step ahead of her competition in New York.
"Someone is just as good as you, someone's better than you, someone's better than you'll ever be, so if you want to compete for a spot with them, you have to be able to do it all," she said.
In the three years she's been working as an actress, she's learned what it takes to get a break.
"Resilience. It's hard to maintain resilience all the time and feeling invincible," she said. "And then of course, luck. That's the most important thing."
Ma has also landed a part in a movie that just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. In "Robot and Frank," she plays the robot.
"Just a year ago, I was an aspiring Broadway dance. I didn't have my equity card. I wasn't the assistant choreographer for a Broadway lab. I wasn't in the Screen Actor's Guild. I hadn't just finished a movie with Susan Sarandon and Liv Tyler and Frank Langella. And that's just happened in the past year," she said.