Dancing with determination
Students beware: There is a woman loose on campus with a video camera and she is looking for you to dance with her. If you aren’t careful, you could be the next YouTube sensation.
Junior Sam Thompson is on a mission — a mission to dance for Ellen DeGeneres. When Thompson decided she wanted to intern for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” she decided a good way to standout and demonstrate how passionate and hardworking she is would be to create a blog of videos.
Thompson said she has always loved watching the show, and DeGeneres has always been an inspiration. Working on a TV show, like “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, has been a dream of hers, and an internship on a show like DeGeneres would be the first step to starting a her dream career.
“I’ve always been inspired by what she does,” Thompson said. “She does so many wonderful things for people and she spreads all this positivity and happiness. She has the ability to make millions of people laugh but she is grounded and she stays genuine at the same time. She doesn’t change herself for other people.”
A co-worker of Thompson’s said she would have to set herself apart while still showing who she is and how hardworking she is. Dancing was her first idea to gain attention, Thompson said. It’s her favorite part of the show, a way to spread positivity and relates to DeGeneres.
“She dances on her show everyday so I thought it would be a really good idea if I danced for her everyday,” Thompson said. “It would show I’m really determined and my personality at the same time.”
Thompson’s mother, Jane Thompson, said there were specific episodes of The Ellen DeGeneres Show that particularly inspired Sam Thompson to get the project started — the episode where DeGeneres decided to get on the cover of Oprah magazine and persevered until Oprah agreed — even though Oprah and First Lady Michelle Obama were the only women to ever be on the cover.
“Ellen just did it so creatively that she actually ended up on the cover of Oprah,” Jane Thompson said, “and I think that inspired Samantha and she saw how creative Ellen was every week and how she marketed herself on TV. Those episodes kind of triggered something in her.”
With the help of family and friends, Sam Thompson has danced everyday since August. The videos, which are posted on a weekly basis, are mashups of clips of Sam Thompson dancing with anyone else who will dance with her. Her videos, under the name Dancingfordegeneres, can be seen on her YouTube channel, Twitter feed, Facebook page and blog on WordPress.
Even though Sam Thompson is an advertising major, she would be willing to do any type of internship, because any opportunity to work on the show would be a once in a lifetime chance, she said.
She said missing a semester of school to do an internship would be worth it because it would be such an amazing opportunity. Her parents would support her in the decision 100 percent.
“If the time comes along, and everything is right in your life, take it,” Jane Thompson said. “If the opportunity comes, she is ready for it.”
Sam Thompson said this semester has been an especially stressful semester for her, limiting the amount of time and effort she has been able to put into her project. Even though she hasn’t devoted as much time as she would like to the videos, she has received recognition from strangers on campus and viewers of her videos from around the world.
Junior Elise Marty, Sam Thompson’s roommate, said this project and making the videos has made a really positive impact on every one’s life who is involved. Even though Marty was afraid of dancing in the beginning, she has warmed up to the idea because the way it makes her feel.
“When I am having a bad day and Sam is like ‘Hey, want to dance with me?’ I’m more inclined to say ‘yeah,’” Marty said, “because I remember how good I felt after the last time we danced.”
The videos work as a stress release from the day’s issues, Sam Thompson said and she looks forward to being able to dance away her issues.
One of the frustrations danced away is waiting. When starting her project, Sam Thompson knew she would have to have patience. Knowing she wasn’t the only person emailing and tweeting constantly for DeGeneres’ attention, she was sure to not have her hopes up too high. She has no plans to stop anytime soon but hopes within this year DeGeneres will notice her hard work so she continues to stay positive.
“I haven’t heard anything from her [DeGeneres] — yet.”
A co-worker of Sam Thompson’s at TV10, sophomore Ginna Roe, said the project is a great idea to gain interest from DeGeneres and perfectly represents Sam Thompson’s personality, but she needs more viewers and publicity.
“I think it has to be spread,” Roe said. “It has to get to Ellen somehow so she [Sam] can dance for as long as she wants but if people aren’t talking about it, it would be a problem — but people are talking about it.”
A suggestion by Roe to get more involvement and recognition is a campus flash mob, whereas Jane Thompson thinks the best way to get more people involved and make the project more noticed would be to get out of Eau Claire to reach a larger audience.
Regardless of in Eau Claire or out, Sam Thompson is always looking for more people to participate and anyone interested should contact her via Facebook or Twitter. Anyone willing to repost her videos or re-tweet to DeGeneres would be really appreciated, Sam Thompson said.
Jane Thompson said if Sam Thompson works hard and stays on track, good things will come to her and that it may take some time. Nothing bad can come out of this, though, Jane Thompson said. Sam Thompson knows if she stays determined for the internship with DeGeneres, regardless of receiving it or not, this experience will open doors for her.
“If anything that I get out of this, I hope it has made other people laugh or made them happy or inspired them to do something they love, everyday,” Sam Thompson said.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Sam Thompson’s whole journey, though. After a few months, Sam Thompson noticed some of her videos were being blocked or taken down because her videos had copyrighted music included in them.
After trying multiple ways to get around the law, Sam Thompson was forced to switch to Royalty Free Music.
She was nervous about what consequences using the new music — or as Sam Thompson described it “cell phone ringtones” — would have on her viewers would, but it hasn’t created a difference yet. Her video viewer numbers haven’t dropped, Sam Thompson said she is glad her viewers still appreciate and support the cause.
One of the most important things she has gained from this experience is learning to really not care what people think about her. Sam Thompson said she has always been outgoing but this experience has made her a stronger person.
“When I first started, none of my friends would dance with me so I just did it by myself,” Sam Thompson said. “There have been some people who are like ‘that’s not going to get her attention’ but there are always going to be people who doubt you. You have to stay true to yourself.”
From this experience, Sam Thompson said she has learned more about who she is.
“People can think what they want about me or what I’m doing,” Sam Thompson said. “I’m learning to stay positive and just keep believing in it.”
Even if her project doesn’t grab DeGeneres’ attention and land her the internship, which Thompson said she is not even considering, she hopes her videos inspire people to follow their dreams and stay true to themselves.
Sam Thompson’s dedication to her project has been an inspiration for Roe to chase her wildest and biggest dreams, she said.
“Sam and I both have really big dreams.” Roe said. “We’re both really career orientated and have almost impossible goals and I was talking to her saying ‘I’m never going to get anywhere, I’m never going to make any money’ and she said ‘Well Ginna, look at what I’m doing with this Ellen thing. To some people it’s a complete joke but it’s my dream and if I don’t go after it I’m never going to achieve it.’”
Roe said at first she was hesitant to participate in the videos but warmed up to the idea eventually. The participation from family and friends has made this experience especially special for Sam Thompson.
One of her highlights was going to a Green Bay Packer game and dancing with strangers and seeing how much they enjoyed it. Aside from the internship, other people’s enjoyment has been is a major driving force behind this project.
“I like to make people happy,” Sam Thompson said. “I think in a world that is so full of stress and negativity, you need to do something that you love to do everyday and keep those happy feelings allthe time.”