During Missy Elliot's Video Vanguard performance at the VMAs, all eyes were on the veteran rapper. But for about 20 seconds, as the opening to "Work It" played, Alyson Stoner captivated the auditorium. Clad in a highlighter yellow tracksuit, the dancer had a definite moment while performing a brief solo on the VMAs stage. Some instantly recognized the 26-year-old, while others were left wondering who the scene-stealing performer was. Here are five fast facts about Stoner—including her past with Elliott.
Her history with Missy dates back to 2002.
Long before Stoner was owning the stage during Elliott's career-defining tribute, she was a spotlighted dancer in one of the artist's videos. Yes, many on social media remembered a younger Stoner (she was about nine) from Elliott's 2002 "Work It" music video.
It was one of the performer's first credits and her moves clearly made an impression. Stoner also appeared in Missy videos for the songs "Gossip Talks" and "I'm Really Hot."
Clearly, Stoner's familiarity with Elliott paid off. On Twitter the following day, Stoner revealed that Elliott's choreographer Nadine "Hi-Hat" Ruffin asked the dancer to join the performance only a day before. "Let's talk quick facts.. HiHat hit me up a day before to jump in, said 'do your thing' and then it was showtime. But those grooves don’t leave your system," she tweeted.
She's got Disney Channel roots.
When Stoner wasn't working it in Elliott's videos, she spent a fair amount of time on the Disney Channel. While she wasn't as centrally featured as a Miley Cyrus, a Selena Gomez, or a Hilary Duff, Stoner was involved in several Disney-centric projects. She starred in or appeared on shows including Super Short Show, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, That's So Raven, and Phineas and Ferb. Additionally, Stoner starred alongside Demi Lovato and the Jonas Brothers in the two Camp Rock movies.
During this period, she also secured a supporting role in the Steve Martin-led Cheaper by the Dozen films of the mid-2000s. Her love interest was even a young Taylor Lautner in the 2005 sequel. If you grew up during this period, there's a high chance you caught Stoner onscreen.
She also sings.
Throughout her career, Stoner has always maintained her dancing street cred, playing Camille in Step Up and 2014's Step Up All In. But in addition to dancing and acting, Stoner is also a talented singer. She often shares songs with her followers on social media and in February released the soul-baring single "Stripped Bare."
Her dance videos on Instagram are insane.
Whether a part of a professional ensemble or freestyling on her own, Stoner often posts videos of her routines for fans. For her followers, the MTV VMAs were just a preview of her vast dancing talent.
She's hosting her own podcast this fall.
Another thing that has endeared people to Stoner is her transparency. In the past, she's opened up about her difficulties with anorexia nervosa, exercise bulimia and binge-eating disorder to outlets such as People. In a March 2018 essay for Teen Vogue, Stoner also reflected on her shifting sexual identity, all themes she's explored in her music. She's even unveiled plans for a podcast on her Instagram and regularly updates her YouTube channel with videos that explore topics ranging from positive thinking to facing your fears.
In July, Elliot herself gave Stoner a shoutout for her impact on the world, tweeting, "Alyson I know u were special from the moment u were in my 'Work It' video break dancing keep doing ya thang!"
Savannah Walsh Editorial Fellow Savannah Walsh is an Editorial Fellow at ELLE.com.