Age & Hometown: 30; Peoria, Arizona
Current Role: La Cienega, a fiery transgender dancer-turned-cheerleader in the summer Broadway hit Bring it On: The Musical.
Spring Training: Haney grew up in a “disciplined military family,” and was reluctantly allowed to pursue theater—as long as he went to football practice first. The running back played the field for 11 years while moonlighting in school productions like Annie and Fiddler on the Roof. “I wore a fat suit and did a back handspring as Lazar Wolf,” the actor quips. “I was gonna have a strange career!” At 14, Haney’s athletic prowess scored him a slot on the Nickelodeon competition show Guts, and he was dubbed Greg “Big Dog” Haney by host Mike O’Malley. The teen took home a first-place trophy, becoming the envy of his friends—and 15 years later, Bring it On co-writer Lin-Manuel Miranda. “Lin is a huge Guts fan, and during rehearsal, he found a clip of me on YouTube,” Haney says with a laugh. “I was so excited about creating Bring it On, but he was more excited about Big Dog!”
Size 10, Please? After attending the University of Arizona, Haney found a home in the Broadway ensembles of Tarzan and Memphis and the national tour of Wicked. But it was game on when Haney got an audition for La Cienega, a popular high school cheerleader who happens to be transgender, in Bring It On. “I went to Rainbow on 125th Street and got four-inch heels,” Haney says, plus “an afro wig, an oversized tank top and a tennis skirt,” then headed to the audition. As he tried to ignore the “stares and chuckles” on the streets of New York, the actor developed an understanding of the struggles his character might face. “I’m a boy playing a girl,” Haney explains. “But she’s not. La Cienega’s a girl. And there’s something gritty about her—she’s so strong and smart.” Haney’s insightful approach earned him the role in the national tour of Bring It On.
What I Was Born to Do: After traveling cross-country in Bring It On, Haney is thrilled to be back on Broadway, singing, dancing and cheering with his friends. “I’ve been with these kids for two years, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he says of the tight-knit cast. “We spent Christmas and New Years together. We even did shows in Denver with oxygen tanks backstage because of the altitude! It’s the best family I’ve ever had.” Like a real cheerleading squad, Haney and his castmates work as a team to deliver their show's positive, affirming message to the audience. “In Bring It On, you can be different,” he says. “You could be tall, skinny, short, fat, thin, whatever. As long as you’re comfortable with you who are, you’re bringing your A game.”
Click below to watch Haney climb the Aggro Crag on Guts!