#BlackDanceHistoryIsHappeningNow: “Big Will” Simmons
In celebration of Black History Month, Dance Spirit is saluting young Black artists who don’t just represent a bright future for the dance industry—they’re already making history of their own. Fourth in our series: Will Simmons. Be sure to check dancespirit.com throughout February to meet more dancers who embody Black excellence in dance and in life. #BlackDanceHistoryIsHappeningNow
No matter how dark the source material, 21-year-old William “Big Will” Simmons lights up the screen and stage. That star quality was apparent way back in 2014, when a tween Simmons danced his way through “Never Catch Me,” by Flying Lotus (featuring Kendrick Lamar). If you’ve never seen it, FYI: the music video centers on a double funeral. Yet somehow, Simmons’ next-level musicality lifts up the onscreen story to a feeling of joy. Watching the clip now, it’s clear that Simmons has always had that intangible “it” factor. And he most certainly has all the moves he needs to go far in Hollywood.
And speaking of making history, “Never Catch Me” is just one of the many iconic projects that Simmons has graced with his dancing. At 2015’s Super Bowl 49, he danced alongside Missy Elliott and Katy Perry. From 2017 to 2018, Simmons was a founding member of the new Club Mickey Mouse (Disney’s all-dancing, all-singing teen supergroup). That video for “Never Catch Me” won an MTV Video Music Award, and Simmons went on to perform at Coachella with the artists. And take a closer look at the quartet of young dancers in Childish Gambino’s “This Is America.” Yep, there’s Simmons!
It’s no surprise to anyone who’s seen the expressiveness of his movement that Simmons’ acting career is also on the rise. He’s a recurring character on Netflix’s hit “Never Have I Ever” and on Mackenzie Ziegler’s web series “Total Eclipse.” He even told Teen’s Weekly Insider in 2017 that he aspires “to be the next Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, or Will Smith.”
But Simmons isn’t just about his own dreams. Through his ambassadorship with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Simmons has appeared in a public-service social media campaign aimed at protecting kids from abduction and trafficking.
And in addition to the weekly classes he teaches at the L.A. studios Snowglobe Perspective and Eighty Eight Studios, Simmons also makes time to teach dance to economically disadvantaged youth. As he said to Teen’s Weekly Insider, “It is important for me to reach out to kids who may not be able to afford dance classes and teach a little class to them and spend time answering questions.”