Things you didn’t know about Regan Aliyah
For more than 60 years, Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club has showcased the latest and greatest young talents in entertainment. The newest version of the squad came together in September 2017, going under the revamped name of Club Mickey Mouse and producing music videos (and copious behind-the-scenes material) for Instagram and Facebook. One of the members of the new group is Regan Aliyah, a poet, rapper, singer and dancer with a family history in entertainment. Born in 1999, she’s the first female rapper in the Club’s history, but what’s her story? Read on to find out everything you need to know about Regan Aliyah.
Regan’s main passion as a performer is personal, socially conscious spoken word poetry, which she proved by introducing herself as a Mouseketeer with a piece celebrating the kids of the modern era who can demonstrate some hustle. “So why dis the kids with the big dreams, the next kings and queens who grow like Jack’s bean, slaying anybody who deems to be the giant in the scene,” she recited as part of an ode to the art of the poetry slam. She began writing poetry for both the spoken word and rap formats at the age of 12, and continues to post her poems on social media as her platform, assisted by Disney, grows ever larger.
An entertainment legacy
Far from the first of her family to be artistically inclined, Regan is actually a fourth-generation entertainer whose grandparents were members of a funk group called the Honey B’s. She’s also the niece of Justice Smith, star of Paper Towns, Netflix’s The Get Down, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. She has a history of putting her skills to work with her family, sometimes posting awesome videos of super-fun, high-energy dances that she’s done with her talented mother. She has frequently worked with her older sister on dance and music projects—some of which helped put her on the map, and some of which are still in development.
Dancing to stardom
Regan came up learning the arts with her sister Ryan Asher, competing in dance and drill team competitions and performing publicly by the third grade. As a dancer, she’s appeared in videos from Todrick Hall, including “Barack Yo Body” and a viral flash mob video centered around a massive dance in a Target store to the beat of Beyoncé ‘s “End of Time.” She continues to work with Hall on projects including Club Mickey Mouse, which he helps out with as a choreographer.
Regan’s first huge break came as a part of the dancing and singing group Urban Xtreme, which was managed by her mom, Adrienne Mari’ya, and included her sister Ryan Asher. The group became popular for its performances on Disney’s Make Your Mark: Shake it Up Dance Off competition. After beating out thousands of contestants for a spot on the program, the group made it to the finals, where they crossed paths with Disney stars such as Zendaya and Bella, Debby Ryan of Jessie, and Ross Lynch from Austin & Ally. In addition to a number of live performances and tours, the group has also produced a music video for its song “Decline,” and they’ve been working on a debut EP.
Although her voice has only just started to ring out, Regan has been uncompromising in sharing her progressive views on social media. She shares messages calling attention to the government’s failure to provide clean water to Flint, Michigan, or provide adequate support to a hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico. She’s articulated the point of Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest to her followers, proudly attended the 2018 Women’s March, and called attention to the ongoing slave trade in Libya. In the entertainment industry, it doesn’t always pay to take a political stance, and in a lot of ways it’s easier to keep one’s views quiet. The fact that Regan is using her platform unabashedly to make the world a better place is commendable and brave.
Life in the music scene
Regan started rapping at the age of 12, finding early inspiration in the music of Lauryn Hill, who’s known for her work as one of the three members of the Fugees as well as her classic 1998 solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. “[I] became absolutely obsessed with the honesty and truth in her music,” Regan said in an interview about her introduction to hip-hop. “With the combination of my own personal music finds, my family’s influence, and my own passion for music, I knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
As she’s progressed through her teens, she’s steadily worked her way into the hip-hop orbit, dropping videos on social media showcasing her skills and working with such pioneers as D.M.C. from Run-D.M.C. While she of course gets to show off her flow performing with the Club Mickey Mouse, she’s really put her hip-hop chops to work on Urban Xtreme tracks like “Decline,” “Where They At Tho,” and “On 1.” She’s also working as part of a duo act with sister Ryan Asher in which she raps while her sibling sings.
Regan also has her eyes on acting, having been trained as a child at the Sterling Studio. One role she’s said she wants, should the character ever come to movies or TV? Riri Williams, a.k.a. the superhero Ironheart of Marvel’s Comics’ Invincible Iron Man series. The great thing is, now that she’s a Disney employee, maybe she can get the inside line on the people over at Marvel Studios and work on making that dream a reality. Prior to her work in front of the camera with Club Mickey Mouse, she also appeared in the dance-centric short film How to Catch a Ghost.
The New Mouseketeers
The Mickey Mouse Club has gone through a number of rosters since its founding in 1955, but has spent the new millennium in a state of hibernation—until now. In September 2017, Disney announced the new roster for the revamped, all-digital Club Mickey Mouse, which includes Regan alongside seven other talented teen performers. As part of the group, she’s performed as the center of the song “Generation M,” a ’90s-era hip-hop throwback video, appeared in the group’s holiday special, and contributed to a number of other videos the group has produced, all of which let her sing, dance, and rhyme with the whole ensemble.
Though previous iterations of the Club aired its programming as a television variety show, the new version is more of a reality series, following the members behind the scenes as they come together to produce videos week after week. You can follow Regan’s adventures with the Club on Instagram and Facebook, and follow her personal accounts on Twitter at reganaliyah and Instagram at Regan_ux.