Aly Michalka Aly Michalka

The CW's new series Hellcats may focus on college cheerleaders, but star Aly Michalka insists it will surprise people.

"It's not about cheerleaders looking sexy and shaking pom-poms all the time. It's about the competitive aspect, how dangerous it is and the fact that these girls are counting on each other to bring it when they're out there on the field," Michalka tells

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In the premiere episode, struggling pre-law student Marti (Michalka) loses her financial aid. In order to stay in school, she fights for the only scholarship left —a cheerleading scholarship. While at first the ex-gymnast makes fun of the girls on the squad, Michalka says that Marti soon realizes "this is a lot more than she bargained for and she respects that ... she knows that it's hard; it takes a lot of training and a lot of focus."

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For the 21-year-old, having a background in street dancing and hip-hop helps, but she leaves the hardcore moves to the professionals. "The cheerleading and the gymnastics are being taken care of with actual stunt doubles when it comes to anything that's dangerous — [otherwise] actors going up in the air may not be coming back down, but might be hitting the floor."

Hellcats premieres Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 9/8c on the CW.