The "Higher Ground" scene lives in her head rent-free — and rightfully so.
Victoria Moroles is no stranger to the spotlight. She caught viewers’ attention with scene-stealing roles in Teen Wolf and Liv and Maddie: Cali Style, and now, she’s starring as the lovably snarky, too-cool-for-school Lupe in Hulu’s new teen comedy, Plan B. But Moroles’ love of performing didn’t originate with acting; it actually stems from her childhood, when she was a competitive dancer. In our recent Zoom call, we took a slight detour from discussing Plan B to talk about Moroles’ dance background and her love for an iconic scene in one of the most beloved dance movies of all time, Center Stage.
The movie, which came out in 2000, follows 12 teenage dancers as they enroll in a prestigious New York City ballet academy and subsequently deal with all kinds of drama on- and offstage. “I saw Center Stage [for the first time] probably when I was — I don’t know — like 11 or 12, which is quite young. I just fell in love with it. Zoe Saldana [who plays Eva in the film] was a big inspiration for me,” Moroles tells Elite Daily. “I grew up in a town of 10,000 people, and I think for many dancers, [it’s] something you dream of: Going to New York and doing the whole thing.”
The entire film is iconic, but in one particularly memorable moment, the dancers drop the rigidity of ballet and perform a joyous routine set to The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song “Higher Ground.” When Moroles first saw the scene as a dedicated young dancer, she was obsessed — and still is to this day. “Sometimes I just put [that scene] on because it makes me really happy, and I just dance along with it,” she says. “I think it’s super fun to see people let loose like that in that way, because I was also focused on ballet for a while and it’s fun to break out of your zone and do something different.”
While Moroles put her childhood passion on the back burner after breaking into acting, her dancing background has helped her in subtle ways. “[My dance experience] allows me to know where my body is at, and that’s always going to be with me. That’s something that’s super important while we’re acting,” she says.
Moroles got the chance to lean into physical comedy in her new film, Plan B (on Hulu May 28), a teen quest movie about the misadventures that her character Lupe and Lupe’s best friend, Sunny (Kuhoo Verma), face on their South Dakota road trip. Their quest? Finding reproductive healthcare, a relatable yet often-undiscussed dilemma for teenagers. As Lupe and Sunny quickly realize, adequate treatment is maddeningly inaccessible for young people in the U.S.
After Sunny has a regrettable first sexual experience and struggles to get her hands on emergency contraception without her strict mother’s permission, she and Lupe take matters into their own hands. Along the way, they hilariously stumble through classic coming-of-age scenarios like parties, concerts, and first loves.
“I thought, ‘This is a really hilarious, heightened version of what young women go through,’” Moroles says. “I hope [young women] watch it and find inspiration within these two, because I found so much strength within Lupe. I hope they find the power to use their voice and educate themselves on the actuality of what the film is about.”
While it’s easy to associate Plan B with other delightfully raunchy, earnest teen comedies like Superbad or Booksmart, director Natalie Morales’ film also breaks boundaries as a film starring, directed by, and produced by women of color, something Moroles isn’t taking for granted. “[Seeing everyone together on set,] I just had this out-of-body experience that makes me incredibly emotional,” she says. “It was such a bad*ss set to be on.”
Although Plan B certainly pays homage to certain coming-of-age tropes, its specificity gave Moroles the freedom to bring Lupe and her world to life in an authentic, original way. “I hadn’t really seen anything like this. I’ve seen young men do it,” she says. “[But] I really tried to be as original as possible, because I’ve seen relationship dynamics like this. I just haven’t seen two young women of color go through it. So [Kuhoo and I tried] to keep [these characters] incredibly authentic and original.”
With a bright Hollywood future ahead of her, there’s no telling what Moroles will do next. But she hopes she’ll soon get to take on a project that combines her love of acting and dancing. “I’m currently not [dancing], but I want to be,” she says. “Hopefully the two can mesh together at some point.”
So, casting directors, the next time a buzzy new dance movie (or even better, a Center Stage reboot) comes together, please give Victoria Moroles a call.
In Elite Daily’s series Rent-Free, celebrities unpack the one thought, memory, or unforgettable pop culture moment that'll always live in their head. Read more here.