Then and Now

Alyson Stoner: From Missy Elliott's sidekick to sexy Hollywood starlet

Isaac Alvarez

Isaac Alvarez  (copywright 2013 © isaac alvarez | all rights reserved )

Alyson Stoner, 22, has grown up in the limelight and she is no longer the little girl who made headlines for her role in Missy Elliott's music videos. She's now become a Hollywood starlet all on her own with a lead role in an upcoming original Lifetime movie. FOX411 caught up with the triple threat and she dished on how she juggles her acting, singing and dancing career.

“I ask for a lot of help in prayer every night when I’m so overwhelmed and I’m like 'Why am I doing this?'” she explained. “I grew up performing. At an early age, I was acclimated to a very heavy, full plate and schedule and then there comes a time when more opportunities and choices come in [than] you can handle and you just start making a lot of sacrifices. That’s the hardest part for me: To know I can only accomplish so much in one day.”

Not only does Stoner have the talent but she also has the brains: She studies neuroscience.

“I’ve found that a lot of the work I do with people outside of the business relates to emotional awareness, psychological wellness and that’s where my fascination with neuroscience came in,” she told us.

When asked about how her image has changed as she has become sexier over the years, Stoner laughed. 

“Oh gosh, it makes me think of my family in Ohio who must be laughing,” she said with a smile. “I’m not really concerned with people’s perceptions of me and their opinions. I have to stay true to my journey and this happens to be what is unfolding and from the inside out. I want to be as grounded and personable and as classy as possible.”

She stays true to herself by keeping in mind the end goal of what needs to be accomplished in all of the work she does.  

“I’m glad people are receiving me well as I transition into more mature roles,” she explained. “You do have to walk a tight rope coming from the Disney background but I don’t feel pressured to have some sort of shock value because the end result should not be shocking— it should be a classy strong woman.”

Stoner is excited and passionate about her second trip to Ethiopia, as she was just named Goodwill Ambassador for I Pour Life. Her goal is to raise $10,000 to help empower women, stressing the importance of donations from fans.

“What I love is that their approach is not a common western individualistic approach which is 'we are the solution for your problem.' It’s not a superior helping an inferior,” she said. “It’s really dropping all of our differences and working alongside another human being asking how they are doing and doing life with them. Developing relationships that are consistent—and not a onetime handout –that is when you see the transformation.”

Along with her trip to Ethiopia, she is involved with two big films this summer—“Sugar Babies” and “Summer Forever.” With “Sugar Babies,” she was excited to play a character for a more mature topic. The film focuses on sugar daddies. 

“From a business standpoint I was able to be a part of a more mature topic without being the character that necessarily does all of the edgy things,” she told us.

Stoner described herself as “evolving,” and in 10 years she expects to be an even greater version of herself.  

“I would love to grow in being more connected to my own emotional and mental state so that I can be more present and compassionate to the people I am around,” she shared. “I don’t know what I will be doing professionally but I do hope I am a more compassionate human. I feel like that’s the only thing I can know that actually matters after it all.”

You can follow Blanche Johnson on Twitter @blancheFOXLA.