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Sabrina Carpenter fulfills career goal with 'Work It'

Sabrina Carpenter stars in and executive produces the Netflix movie Work It, premiering Friday. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Sabrina Carpenter stars in and executive produces the Netflix movie "Work It," premiering Friday. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- The Netflix original movie Work It represents a leap forward in Sabrina Carpenter's career. The triple-threat actor, singer and dancer adds executive producer to her resume. The film also fulfills a lifelong dream for the 21-year-old.

"I've always wanted to be in a dance movie," Carpenter told UPI in a recent phone interview. "[I] never thought I'd play the character who couldn't dance to save her life and then learns how."

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Carpenter portrays Quinn Ackerman, a book smart high school senior who starts a dance crew to impress Duke University's admissions adviser. Unlike Carpenter, Quinn is an amateur dancer.

When she was 2 years old, Carpenter enrolled in ballet classes. For 10 years, she said, she tried tap, jazz, hip-hop and lyrical modern dance classes.

By the time she was a teenager, dance had to take a back seat to acting, Carpenter said. She was booking roles on TV shows The Goodwin Games, Orange Is the New Black and Girl Meets World. Years without training actually helped Carpenter play Quinn, she said.

"I was sort of reteaching myself as I was relearning in real life," she said.

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Quinn is a studious learner. Her friend Jas (Liza Koshy) teaches her moves, but Quinn learns them academically, repeating Jas' moves without a natural sense of rhythm. Carpenter said Quinn rubbed off on her.

"As I started to play Quinn, each week, I think, I got clumsier," Carpenter said. "I just started to naturally lose rhythm a bit."

The process of retraining herself to dance, and portraying Quinn's determination to learn, inspired Carpenter. She said she hopes viewers can see that anyone can improve by working at it like Quinn.

"I have so many people in my life who can't dance," Carpenter said. "That's still something that you can grow from. It's not impossible."

What began as a scheme to impress Duke with her extracurricular activities gradually becomes a genuine passion for Quinn. As a senior in high school, the movie shows, it's not too late for Quinn to change paths. Carpenter hopes viewers of all ages receive the film's message.

"It's never too late to try something new," Carpenter said. "It's OK for plans to change. By opening those doors, you're going to find so many other beautiful things that you wouldn't have found otherwise."

Carpenter, however, did not stray from her path. She says she wanted to perform since she was taking ballet at age 2. Performing, to her, always involved music, as well. Carpenter has released four albums since 2015, as well as singles.

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"I know that music has always been there in my blood and soul," Carpenter said. "I just loved the simple act of singing, the simple act of writing or the simple act of playing pretend."

Carpenter does not foresee a transition into a completely different profession, like her Work It character. Fortunately, room exists for her to grow within entertainment.

Carpenter said she liked producing Work It and would like to produce more films. She also wants to collaborate with other recording artists.

"Writing songs for other artists is something I've always wanted to do and hope to do one day," Carpenter said.

Work It features a Sabrina Carpenter original. "Let Me Move You" is her single, which plays over the end credits. Netflix released a music video for it ahead of the film's premiere. She wrote the song with Stargate and Steph Jones.

"I wrote that song about three days after I saw the movie for the first time," Carpenter said.

Carpenter explained that the other producers of Work It asked her to write a song after screening the film. She wrote four and "Let Me Move You" was the one they chose.

If she captured the tone of the film as she intended, Carpenter hopes "Let Me Move You" will make viewers "get up and dance and not take life too seriously."

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Work It premieres Friday on Netflix.

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