MTV’s ‘Taking the Stage’ ended 10 years ago. Where they are now

    The principal cast members of the first season of “Taking the Stage” were (from left) Shaakira Sargent, Malik Kitchen, Jasmine White-Killins, Tyler Nelson and Mia Carruthers.

    To us, it was just a TV show.

    but for the young dancers, actors and singers at the creative and performing arts school, “going on stage” was an epic whirlwind; 21 overheated episodes packed with romance, fierce competition, steamy performances, jealousy, and more love triangles than a shakespeare play. oh, and from time to time, there was a reference to the academic life of the school.

    Reading: Tyler from taking the stage

    After two seasons of so-so ratings, the MTV reality series co-created by Nick Lachey aired its final episode. that was 10 years ago this week.

    “It wasn’t a total surprise when the show was cancelled,” says Carlton Totten, a season two cast member who transferred from Dixie Heights High School to be a part of the series. “we knew the ratings had dropped, but still…”

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    Like most of the cast, Totten hoped the show would be a blockbuster and make him a star even before he moved to Los Angeles after graduating.

    That didn’t happen.

    “my first job when i got here in 2011 was as a street dance mat,” says totten. everything has been uphill since then. He hasn’t had any major film work, but he has worked. And that, in itself, is an achievement in the film and television business.

    interestingly, totten feels his most productive time on scpa came after the show went off the air. at that point, he still had another year of high school left.

    Carlton Totten transferred from Dixie Heights High School to Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts to become part of the second season of MTV’s “Taking the Stage.”

    “I was lucky,” he recalls. “One of the directors, Lucas Kenna Mertes, saw where my head was going with the show and … it wasn’t good. ‘Narcissistic’ is too strong a word. But not much. He changed my life.”

    the dreams of stardom were not gone. but when she got to Los Angeles, she had a much more balanced head. he understood that professional acting jobs would have to be balanced with work as a waiter. or as door board driver. or any of the other “survival jobs” he’s had along the way.

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    no megastars emerged from “taking the stage”. not yet, anyway. remember, most of those kids were only 17 when the show aired. show business is fickle. they still have time. But several of the cast members have been successful in their respective fields, especially Malik Kitchen, one of the five teenagers who stood out in the first season. She was with “Company XIV,” a Brooklyn-based group whose opulent shows are equal parts Broadway and dazzling burlesque. He then returned to the Midwest, where he opened the Chicago company of “Hamilton” in 2016.

    After attending Cincinnati’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts since fourth grade, dancer Jasmine White-Killins finished up her high school career as a member of the original cast of MTV’s “Taking the Stage.” Today, White-Killins is a member of Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

    Compared to some of her compatriots, Jasmine White-Killins – one of the original cast – took the straight and narrow path, majoring in dance at Southern Methodist University, then going on to become a member of Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

    However, it was not what I had planned.

    “I just wanted to start working and audition everywhere and be in New York City,” he says. “You know, I wanted to live the life of that artist you always hear about. but my parents steered me in another direction. ‘we are a family that goes to college and gets degrees,’ is how they put it.”

    He loved all the dancing in the show. that’s why she was on scpa, after all. but the other things?

    “all the relationship stuff on the show was…”, he pauses for a moment. she’s been a long time, but clearly, drama without dancing still baffles her. “I remember thinking ‘why did this have to be me? why did I have to be the one in the love triangle?’ It was all so embarrassing. we thought we knew it all. but we were so young.”

    at the beginning of the series, white-killins was in a relationship with tyler nelson. But soon, Tyler began to ignore her in favor of singer/songwriter/co-star Mia Carruthers.

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    One of the original cast members of ”Taking the Stage,” singer-songwriter Mia Carruthers still lives and performs in Cincinnati, but has also become well-known as a music producer and engineer.

    Relationships are hard enough when you’re 16 or 17 years old. But the stress of having all the emotional bumps played out on national TV is unimaginable.

    “It was mortifying,” says Carruthers, who still lives and performs in Cincinnati but has also become a successful record producer and engineer. “It was like my senior photo was a TV show.”

    But like everyone else, Carruthers says the show was a mixed blessing.

    “I loved working on the show,” he says. “It was a total blast. And I learned so much that I’ve been able to incorporate into my career. But there was also a lot of backlash. A lot of cyberbullying, horrible things being said about my physical appearance and my singing voice. That left a lasting impact on me.”

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    However, he has found his way. as a record producer, she is a rarity in the industry. her and she continues to record her own music as part of a four-piece electropop band called passeport.

    “It’s a bit business as usual for us,” says Carruthers, explaining that much of his music is created remotely long before he moves into a recording studio. “I am so grateful to have the balance that I have today. I live in the neighborhood of my dreams, liberty hill, with my partner and my two cats. I’m living the life I want.”

    After dancing for a few years in Los Angeles, “Taking the Stage” cast member Emily Silber stepped into a career in public relations. Now, she works for a large, Los Angeles-based fashion and design company.

    So is Emily Silber, who left St. Ursula Academy after her junior year to join the show’s second season. But unlike many of the show’s other cast members, Silber is no longer committed to a life as a performer.

    Moved to Los Angeles and for several years was a member of the Contemporary Dance Entity, specializing in an amalgamation of modern, jazz and urban dance techniques. and then stopped.

    “I was burned,” she says. She “had been dancing since she was two and a half years old. she still loved me. but she was tired and wanted to try something else. ”

    He had always been interested in fashion. she so she entered the fashion institute of design and merchandising and within a few years she was a working public relations professional. She has done PR for celebrities and digital influencers, but ultimately decided to work for a major but unnamed fashion brand.

    “Unlike many others, I didn’t really have any expectations of what the program would do for me,” he says. “I was a senior when I got there, so I thought of it as a one-year thing. I would be done with that and move on with my life after high school.”

    and, for the most part, that’s what silber has done. For her, “going onstage” is a fond but distant memory.

    “I know it was only 10 years ago,” she says, “but it feels like it’s been 25 or 30 years since it all happened. It’s more like a dream. A mostly pleasant dream.”

    Maybe it helps that he’s stepped away from show business.

    “Overall, I think being able to do the show was an achievement in itself,” says Silber. “it was impressive. We were so young. and we really didn’t know as much as we thought we did. but I look at what we did and I’m proud of it. I hope everyone else is too.”

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