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Damaris Lewis: Model, dancer, card-carrying member of the New Power Generation

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What did you do over the holiday? Did you drink some champagne? Eat 16,000 sugar cookies? Attend an ugly sweater party? That's cool, that's cool.

But you know what would have been really cool? If you backup-danced for Prince during his three-night stand at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Kind of like what Damaris Lewis did.

The classically-trained dancer, who appeared in three Swimsuit issues from 2009 to '11, was spotted by a model scout at the age of 15 during a ballet recital, but she never abandoned her dancing roots. That worked in her favor when Prince came knocking in 2012 looking for a feature dancer to tour with him in Australia.

If Damaris was starstruck it didn't last long because there in Oz the two artists struck up a tight friendship, so tight in fact that he didn't kick her off the tour when she prank-called him from a morning radio show:

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SwimDaily spoke to the 23-year-old about the dream gig, her background in dance, and the three things you can do to score your own gig as a Prince muse/associate/protégé. (Just kidding—we didn't because you can't.) Then scroll to the bottom for photo and video evidence of Damaris helping Prince bring the funk.

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SwimDaily: So explain to me how one gets recruited by Prince? 

DL: I hosted a special about his concert series on The Africa Channel. He was going to Australia [in May 2012] and knew that I danced and modeled and he said, 'We need a feature dancer, do you want to come?'  I also went on to tour Chicago with him and then we did SXSW, the closing Samsung party.

SD: Were you a Prince fan as a kid?

DL: Growing up it was more Usher bumping on my radio than Prince, but being a dancer I had always been aware of Prince’s music and knew what he was doing, so it’s a huge privilege and honor to be on the stage with him, let alone on stage by myself.

SD:  You’ve been in the spotlight for a while but for anyone to be like, I have Prince on speed dial—that’s another level.

DL: Yeah, I mean, he’s probably one of my greatest friends to date. He is somebody that understands that I do more than one thing and that’s very tricky in any industry where you’re trying to explain to people: I can model but I can also dance and model. He’s been able to utilize that. I’ve hosted his aftershow. I’ve danced for him. I’ve been a field correspondent. He’s somebody who’s like, 'I know you can do it and I trust you to do it.' It’s pretty surreal.

SD:  So do you ever see yourself going full speed ahead with the dancer thing?

DL: Dancing is mostly a hobby. I don’t ever see being the girl who stands in line for an audition. You kind of don’t get any bigger than Prince.  Growing up I studied ballet, African, tap, jazz, modern, and then when I went to LaGuardia [High School of Music & Art] we studied the Martha Graham technique and ballet for four years.

SD: Was LaGuardia anything like it's depicted in Fame?

DL: Yes! You went to the basement, somebody was acting in the hallway. You went to the eighth floor and somebody was dancing in the hallway. During lunch somebody was probably making a beat on the table and rapping. I don’t think it was as extreme. Wait, no, it probably was. In fact, one of my modern dance teachers was in the movie. So we still had that authentic Fame thing.

SD: What did your classmates think of your modeling?

DL: At LaGuardia they would tell you off the bat, you’re not allowed to do any outside work until senior year, so I couldn’t tell anybody I was modeling. Then somebody saw me. I was in a Freshlook contacts ad for Teen Vogue, but it said my name was Kendra, so a girl who came up to me and was like, 'There’s this girl who looks just like you, but her name is Kendra.' And I was pretending like, 'Oh my God, that’s so crazy.' But they ended up putting it on a billboard outside the Lincoln Tunnel. There was no hiding it then.

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WireImage Prince  ::  WireImage

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WireImage With singer Janelle Monae (striped shirt) ::  WireImage

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prince-damaris-2 WireImage

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@damarislewis: It's moments like these....that make me grateful. I'm in the back on my platform mimicking the funkiest boss in the bizz. #Blessed

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The guitar master and my flying braids during an EPIC performance of Something In The Water this weekend. #prince@damarislewis: The guitar master and my flying braids during an EPIC performance of Something In The Water this weekend. #prince

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12/27, 5 pm: Ready to rock out with Prince and my purple family tonight. Mohegan Sun, let's get funky. @damarislewis: 12/27, 5 pm: Ready to rock out with Prince and my purple family tonight. Mohegan Sun, let's get funky.

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12/28, 1:38 am: Night 1, DONE! So much fun! #Prince #NPG #ILoveMyLife @damarislewis: 12/28, 1:38 am: Night 1, DONE! So much fun! #Prince #NPG #ILoveMyLife

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@damarislewis: 12/28, 6:08 pm: Night 2! Mohegan Sun! Let's make it funky. #Prince

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@damarislewis: 12/29, 12:39 am: Show 2. In the books. Danced my heart out! Tomorrow night, Janelle Monáe will be opening! Mohegan Sun bringing the funk. #PRINCE

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@damarislewis: 12/29, 6:41 pm: Show time.

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@damarislewis: 12/30, 2:14 am: After the party it's the after party....

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