Yes, your sleep-deprived eyes haven’t deceived you, that is indeed THE Merritt Blanks, Jr. in Iggy Azalea’s latest music video, “Sally Walker”. The nursery rhyme-inspired music video was released on March 15th and it’s already soared past 20 million views on YouTube. Merritt emerges onto the red screen eight different times (1:12, 1:27, 1:35, 2:25, 2:35, 2:40, 2:46, 2:58) with a series of dynamic dips, wild “woahs” and some good old-fashioned stepping.
“I still get nervous just like anybody else because people have such high expectations for me. But I think that’s why I’m so energetic and always go full out. I take everything that people expect and I push myself to go above and beyond that once the lights hit,” he said.
Merritt’s love for dance is what separates him from a lot of other dancers. When he’s jigging, not only can you see it, but you feel it too. That same love energized him throughout the nearly 9 hours he spent on set filming.
“Iggy walked in and everybody was kind of nervous because we didn’t know what to expect but she ended up being very chill and considerate,” he said. “I was able to share my personality through the choreography we were given because once we finished our part everyone was hype and Iggy loved it.”
On August 6, 2018 the High Point native booked a one way ticket to Atlanta, GA to follow his dance dreams. And I’m no rocket scientist but I think this decision has worked in his favor.
He now works for an Atlanta-based dance company, AtLA Connect. The dance company features some of Hot ‘Lanta’s most elite dancers and prepares them for the next level of entertainment. In addition to dance he’s been part of production teams and has even taken up a new love for acting as he’s been taking classes for nearly seven months.
“They’re actually how I got to be featured in the Sally Walker video,” he said. “The casting director reached out to one of my mentors, Kiki Ely [AtLa Takeover co-owner], looking to cast members for the video and she recommended me. The casting director looked me up, because nowadays your Instagram is your resume, so I sent a headshot, and it was on from there!”
YOU might know Merritt as the high-leg training, soulful-sangin’, lovable teddy bear that brought life to any room he entered. He’s a Spring 2016 Initiate into the Mu Tau Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. at UNC Charlotte. During his reign as stepmaster his chapter won two homecoming stroll-offs, one step show competition, and made countless appearances on Black Greekdom’s digital yardshow, Watch The Yard.
But the 25-year-old has been breaking the stage way before UNC Charlotte.
“I grew up learning to dance at family reunions. That was a big thing to dance at family cookouts,” he said. “I loved watching Michael Jackson and Chris Brown videos as a little boy. I grew up just enjoying dance, but I was never a part of a studio. I used to put together routines for talent shows all the time and didn’t even know my life was leading up to this point, that’s how I know it’s God’s calling.”
Prior to graduating from UNC Charlotte with his sociology degree in Spring 2017 everyone kept asking him what the hell he was going to do next. Merritt wanted to go into higher education but dance was in his heart. Right before graduation he took his first master class at Fuzion Force Entertainment Academy with Keith Andre.
“After that class I said yep! This is what I want to do.”Merritt Blanks, Jr
Merritt remained in Charlotte for another year to train. He became a night choreographer at Fuzion Force, a full time assistant teacher, and stayed with his best friend and his parents as he figured it all out before deciding to take the leap of faith.
Save The Last Dance
“I’m just like everybody else, yeah I got this opportunity but I’m just trying to remain consistent and I have to prepare myself for the next one. I’m taking it one day at a time and focusing on bettering myself, mentally, physically and spiritually. I want to put my hands on everything and allow God to lead me,” he said.
Merritt is the first person on his mom’s side of the family to move out of North Carolina and he wants to inspire others to follow their heart despite what others might think. A quote by actress Taraji P. Henson sticks with him daily:
“If you listen to people and if you allow people to project their fears onto you, you won’t live. It all starts with you.”Taraji P. Henson
Other appearances/featured work:
2019 Superbowl Commercial (initially a performer, promoted to assist with choreography)
Coached 5 Fuzion Force Dance Competition Teams
Hall of Fame Dance Challenge