Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Decoding Celebrity Mormonism

In my capacity as public affairs director for the Hyde Park Stake, I am in the process of becoming familiar (at least by reputation) with members who have interesting stories that can be written about for local and internal media.

As part of this process, I am currently "getting to know" Jared Murillo, one of the professional dancers in this year's Season (Series?) 8 for Britain's version of "Dancing With the Stars," "Strictly Come Dancing."  Jared is LDS, and in my stake's young single adult ward, Brittania.

Before having a team member track him down directly this week to begin the interview process, it is necessary to determine if he is "active" and one that would be a good example of our faith.

The Wikipedia site (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Murillo_(dancer)) about Jared identifies him as one of seven children (telling) before announcing that he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  And Wikipedia must be right, right?

His out-dated official site: http://www.jaredmurillo.com/ shows that he spent a good part of his childhood in Utah before becoming a professional dancer as a teenager, winning national competitions, and dancing for High School Musical 1 and 2.

The only other evidence I could find online of whether Jared was active and professing the faith came from another dancer at High School Musical commenting on Jared and Ashley Tisdale's break-up last year.  There this dancer said in a rather stream-of-consciousness manner that Jared was a member of the "cchurch of jesus christ of latter day saints" (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Did_Ashley_Tisdale_break_up_with_Jared_Murillo).  I figured that if a friend knew of Jared's faith, he must, at least at that point in time, be "living the gospel," including following our health and morality codes.

Yet the loudest evidence came from his behavior on screen.  From the BBC iPlayer clips of this last weekend's "Strictly" show, Jared seemed rather unassuming, kind, freshly-scrubbed, and, at 22, happy to play the "tease the young, small-town kid" role.  Oh - and fully clothed.

But no evidence of the biggest tell-tale sign, that of having served a two-year, full-time mission--unless he counts dating Ashley.  Perhaps that will be my own little mission in working with Jared in the coming weeks.

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