Leanne Tessa: Disney’s Newest Darling
Club Mickey Mouse has a new crew of Mouseketeers, including the multi-talented Leanne Tessa. When the 18-year-old began dancing and singing at the tender age of five, she never could have anticipated what was to come. Years later, Tessa was featured on Dance On TV as their winner for episode six; received the Debbie Allen Hip Hop Scholarship Award; was invited to be a part of the So You Think You Can Dance Choreographers Showcase; and performed in music videos for superstars such as Lady Gaga, Jason Derulo, and the Black Eyed Peas. Now a cast member of Disney’s Club Mickey Mouse, Tessa has received national attention and major media coverage from US Weekly, ABC, CBS, and USA Today, to name a few. The triple threat is garnering even more attention with the release of her first pop single, “RUNNIN,” showcasing her powerhouse vocals and personality. Read on for insider scoop on how Tessa is taking to her newfound fame, and the role that made her “wish upon a star” come true.
Which was your first love: acting, singing, or dancing?
Singing was my first love. I started when I was about five years old and haven’t stopped since. I currently focus more on writing my own songs and collaborating with producers and writers, as well as performing whenever I get the chance to. So far, my favorite accomplishments have been singing the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium for their game against the Cubs, at the Rose Bowl as well for a Dog Charity Event, releasing my first single (which hit about 300k streams on Spotify!), and writing and recording songs for Club Mickey Mouse.
You rose to fame on the app “TikTok.” Why do you think people are drawn to your videos?
When TikTok first began, I saw it as another platform where I could share videos of my favorite things to do. I mainly posted videos of me singing, dancing, and playing instruments, as well as funny lip sync clips. It was my singing and dancing videos that went viral, though, and really brought traffic to my social media.
What tips do you have for making a viral TikTok video?
Post clips that show off your hobbies or talents, and keep an eye out for weekly challenges you can participate in!
What was the audition process like for Club Mickey Mouse?
My audition process for Club Mickey Mouse was a surprisingly short journey. They were casting for months, and I got called straight into callbacks as a singer. I came in and met with the executives, sang a couple of songs, danced for them, and had one of the funniest conversations of my life. This audition was definitely one of my favorites because we got to play ourselves, and all they wanted to see were our talents and genuine personalities. Later that week, one of the executives met with me for lunch and congratulated me with the news of booking CMM. We started filming the next week. It was, by far, one of the fastest and most fun auditions I’ve had.
Did you feel any pressure considering you had to live up to the legacy of the original Mickey Mouse Club?
There was most definitely a lot of pressure in the beginning since we had to live up to the legacy of Mickey Mouse Club. It didn’t really hit us all at first, but eventually, we realized how big of legacy we were actually taking on. Most importantly, it inspired me to work even harder and set my goals high because some of the greatest people in the industry right now originated from this family. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for our generation of Mouseketeers.
Any funny moments from behind the scenes you can share?
We had this running joke between the cast and production team that the set was literally summer camp. We got to wake up every morning, come and see our best friends, and do what we absolutely love. There was never a dull moment on set, but I’d have to say the funniest times were the hours we spent playing games in our dressing rooms bonding with one another.
What is it like working with your fellow cast members? Who are some of your closest friends on set?
Working with everybody was not only one of the greatest experiences but also one of the most inspiring. Being able to share and bounce back ideas with some of the most talented kids in the industry who spoke my language and loved the arts as much as I did was incredible. As far as my closest friends, I knew everybody except one of the Mouseketeers beforehand, so we were all extremely close. Gabe [De Guzman] and Will [Simmons] are like brothers to me, and I’m especially grateful to have spent this experience alongside them.
Has your dance training come in handy during your time on Club Mickey Mouse?
Picking up choreography and choreographing dances definitely comes as second nature to me. And I will say that having this skill under my belt came in handy for CMM. We were always learning new choreography, whether it was for our upcoming music videos or opening up for Disney’s Spectacular Christmas Parade. We also got to work with amazing mentors and choreographers during the process such as one of the original Mouseketeers JC, Todrick Hall, Mandy Moore, and Dtrix.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself as a well-known recording artist traveling, spreading my love for music, and performing for the world. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even win a Grammy someday!
This or That:
TikTok or Instagram? Instagram.
Cinderella or Elsa? Cinderella.
Mickey or Minnie? Mickey.
Breakfast or brunch? Brunch.
Blush or highlighter? Highlighter.
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