"HOLIDAYS" WITH MEGHAN A North Little Rock native has been helping pop superstar Meghan Trainor spread some Christmas cheer.
Cassidy Ratliff, 23, dances in Trainor's new video for the song "Holidays," which features the mighty Earth, Wind & Fire (see it here: arkansasonline.com/126papertrails/.) Ratliff is one of two dancers behind Trainor in several shots. That's her on the right.).
It's not the first time the 2015 North Little Rock High School graduate has performed with the "All About That Bass" singer. She was also in the video for "Nice to Meet Ya," Trainor's track from January that featured Nicki Minaj. Last week she was among the dancers in Trainor's performance of "Holidays" on the "Today" show.
"What's cool about Meghan -- and not all artists do this -- is she really handpicks her dancers," Ratliff said last week from her home in North Hollywood. "She came into the audition and bada-bing, bada-boom, I made the cut."
Ratliff, the daughter of Kristi and Brad Ratliff, grew up competing in dance contests and was in productions at The Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
"I found a love within The Rep for doing lighting, costumes, stage management. Anything that had to do with it, I fell in love with," she says.
As a junior, she auditioned for and was accepted to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, a private performing arts college in Los Angeles, and moved there when she was 18.
Some friends and even family members were a bit leery of Ratliff living in LA.
"We've taught them to dream big," Kristi Ratliff says. "How do we tell her that her dream is too big when God opened the door for her? When it happened, it all fell into place. We are very proud of her."
Ratliff earned her bachelor's degree from the academy and has worked steadily. She was a dancer and assistant choreographer for Kanye West's Sunday Service at the 2019 Coachella Festival, an assistant choreographer on NBC's "The Good Place" and has appeared in videos by Finneas ("Let's Fall in Love for the Night"), Sam Fischer ("This City") and others.
Besides dancing and performing she has found a new passion with her podcast, MEANTality and moMEANTum (momeantum.online), a project aimed at bringing artists together.
"This is, quite frankly, the craziest dream that is coming true right in front of my eyes every day," Ratliff says.
CRIME (WRITING) PAYS Arkansas writer Eli Cranor is the winner of the Peter Lovesey First Crime Novel Contest for his manuscript "Don't Know Tough," about a high school football player with a troubled home life, the coach who thinks he can save him and the murder that threatens to tear their Arkansas town apart. The novel will be published in 2022 by Soho Crime.