At 17 years old, a Greyhound Bus dropped Laurieann Gibson off at the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd Street in New York City. The 12-hour journey from Toronto, her hometown, made Gibson feel like a character in the movie "Fame."
She had no backup plan if she didn't make it as a dancer. In her heart she knew she was put on this Earth to dance.
Today, she works side by side with her friend Lady Gaga. Just last week, Gibson choreographed Lady Gaga's music video "Judas," the second single from her album "Born This Way" to be released in May. She also directed the singer's upcoming HBO "Monster Ball Tour" special to air on May 7.
Working with Lady Gaga isn't new to Gibson's resume; even before Lady Gaga signed her record deal in 2007 they were collaborating. However, Gibson won't take credit for creating the "Fame Monster's" image. She will admit she took something so unique and put it into pop star format.
In return, she said, Lady Gaga rescued her.
"I was broken and she was broken," Gibson said in her delicate, girlish voice. "We were fighting to find our success, to find our dream, and then we met. She allowed me to be all that I could be, and then I allowed her to feel no bit of insecurity in whatever she brought to the process."
Working with Lady Gaga, as well as Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys and others has made Gibson the most sought out choreographer and creative director in the business. It's not surprising that Ryan Seacrest took notice and offered to produce a show for her.
On April 10, "The Dance Scene," a reality show about her life and work, as well as the search to find out if any of her proteges have what it takes to be the next big choreographer, will premiere on E!
At first, Gibson was apprehensive. She didn't want to be on TV just for the sake of being on TV, she said. She told Seacrest if she was going to star in a show, she wanted something that could reach the masses and give those who dreamed like her the hope to keep going.
With all the reality shows on TV today that aim to find the next star, Gibson said her show will be different.
"This is real life. This is for the dancer who was born and got on the Greyhound bus and got off at 42nd street," says Gibson. "We take away the gloss and we show you the real survival and the everyday disappointment."
Laurieann Gibson's Disappointments With Diddy, Lopez
Gibson knows a thing or two about disappointments. Some of them inspired the film "Honey," starring Jessica Alba.
Then there was MTV's "Making the Band" with P. Diddy. While working on show as its on-air choreographer in 2007, he fired her. After that embarrassing public experience, it was difficult for Gibson to get work.
Eventually Diddy brought her back to the show after, she said, he realized his ratings dipped and he needed her. Today, they are friends, but he has never apologized, she said.
Before going head-to-head with Diddy, it was "In Living Color" that gave Gibson her first taste of fame in 1992. She joined the show in its last two seasons as a "Fly Girl," the same role that helped launch Jennifer Lopez's career.
By the time Gibson joined the cast, Lopez was on to other projects, but their paths have crossed. Gibson met Lopez even before she was Jenny "From the Block," and when she was fresh to New York, Lopez took her under her wing, Gibson said.
That's not to say they were best friends. According to Gibson, Lopez often would tell her that she was never going to make it; especially if all she was going to focus on was dance.
Gibson ignored Lopez and vowed not to conform. And while other performers are knocking down Gibson's door, Lopez has yet to reach out, Gibson said. Gibson isn't surprised because, she said, it would mean Lopez admitting she was wrong.
That's one of the reasons why Seacrest's faith has meant so much to Gibson. He represents power and position, she said, and his support is validation that she really is as good as she believes.
Her confidence is nothing new. As a child, her parents always supported her, but it wasn't until her father died last year that she felt safe in show business.
"It was defining in a way because I truly believe he left and went to heaven and now I feel a certain protection that I never felt before," she said. "I always felt alone. When I was in the profession fighting for a job, I never felt covered. Now, so sweetly, I feel like an angel is watching over me."
Laurieann Gibson's Advice: 'Don't Give Up'
With all that Gibson has accomplished behind the scenes, one can't help but wonder if moving out in front and becoming the star was part of her plan all along.
"I wanted to be a star -- with a purpose," Gibson said without hesitation.
She hopes she can use her position on "The Dance Scene" to make dreams come true for others.
For all the dreamers out there, she offered this advice: "You are absolutely enough the way you are. The way you believe in your heart is enough to get you there. Many doors may close, but as long as you don't give up, that one door must open."
"The Dance Scene: premiers on E! on April 10.