DA: Everybody is still doing stuff. I mean, we lost Leroy [actor Gene Anthony Ray], which is so hard for all of us. We lost our boy wonder. Erica Gimpel is still doing what she does—acting and singing and dancing. Carlo Imperato is building sets for major studios now.
KF: I read that one of the dancers choreographed the new film version.
DA: Marguerite Derricks was my white lightning on Fame. She started with me, I think it was the second season. I used to call her white lightning. She's become a world-class choreographer. ... I am just so proud of her work in this new movie. It's really fabulous.
KF: You're also involved with the 2009 remake. Tell us about your role.
DA: Lydia Grant is now the principal. We knew that she would be running things. She was running things then, so she's really running it now. That's who I am in the movie, and that's an appropriate role. It's really what I'm doing every day in my real life at the dance school, which is a whole other purpose in my life right now.
KF: How is the 2009 remake different from the original film and TV series?
DA: The storylines are very much the same. When we did it originally, it was an R-rated movie. Now it's PG. That's a difference. It's still grittier than High School Musical, but in the original movie, there was nudity. And here, there is a suggestion of it, but it doesn't quite go as far. But it does, in its emotion, go the distance with those characters. There's a young singer who's trying to figure out how she's going to find her way. There's a young dancer who's trying to figure out whether to stay in school or join a company. So some of those storylines are very much the same, even though they're new characters.
There's no one named Leroy. There's no one named Coco. But when that young girl Naturi [Naughton] starts singing "Out Here on My Own," you're going to feel that.