What a way to kick off a career. From high school student to major motion picture lead, 17 year-old Nikki Blonsky's star turn as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray, the film version of the Broadway musical , deserves all the accolades the film has been garnering. Yeah, really funny story. I was in my third month of callbacks during this five-and-a-half-month process, and the day after one of my callbacks I was sitting watching the Disney channel with my brother. He was watching High School Musical and he said, "I know they're doing a big Tracy search, but do you know who they will get to play Link?
We do have similar stories. I felt like, coming into Hairspray, I had slightly more experience. In the end, of course, I learned more from this girl than I could ever share with her.
I'm glad that I'm involved with musicals because I think with the young audience that we are educating, I'm making them aware of [musicals], and hopefully making them more mainstream. You know, it could be a popular genre in the future and I would love to stay involved with them for as long as I can.
And for you Nikki? This has been a dream come true. I saw Hairspray on Broadway when I was fifteen years old and fell in love with it. But this is a movie that is going everywhere, so I'm so excited to bring Tracy to life and bring her views to little kids, and show them different is ok and uniqueness is beautiful.
The bottom line of this film is that being different is okay and it's okay to accept that. It's about being who you are, being proud of who you are and embracing it, accepting others and accepting yourself, because you can't accept and love others until you love and accept yourself. What did you two you relate to the most about your characters? Oh gosh, I wish I could relate to Link.
At the beginning, he's a fun character to play. He's a little bit shallow and enjoying the limelight of being a star on a local daytime TV show, so there wasn't much I could relate to Link. I guess it was that he loved dancing and singing, and that was always something I loved doing growing up.
That was my outlet. I was just a year-old girl with a big dream, and Tracy is just a year-old with a big dream. We both just wanted to be out there dancing and singing and performing, and we just wanted people to believe in us. Adam Shankman was my Corny Collins, he believed with me. Their stories are so similar when you look at it.
As far as I'm concerned, Nikki is a real-life Tracy. It's great, such a pleasure. What were you doing before that prepared you for this? I was doing my high school shows. Honestly, my high school was the only high school in the country that does a fully worked, orchestrated opera every year. We took on very large shows like Sweeney Todd and Carmen. I got to play Carmen and Mrs. These were roles that really required a lot of time and dedication.
I mean, we did a fully orchestrated three-hour opera in French. Not a lot of high schools [do that]. I went to the Great Neck Village School, which is an alternative high school. You can do your sports or your theater at either of the other two high schools. Where did you go to high school? No singing or dancing there? Well, I did lots of community theater. That's how I got started, really. I wasn't so much involved in my high school. But there were various community theater and very professional theater houses that I loved to perform at, and I was blessed enough to get cast in plays there.
What was your high school experience like? Was it comfortable because high school can be really weird? Mine was relatively average, because I was a good student. I tried to get really good grades, and I did. I left my high school my junior year, with like a 4. I was a great student. I was so focused on academics that I really didn't have time to worry about the pressures of high school. It really was not a tough time for me.
You played the nicest guy in the film, basically. The hip guy in school, who approached the girl who didn't really fit in You enjoy their characters because they are nice guys, and that's what you don't find in high school. Most of the popular kids are jerks. That's the thing with Link. When he meets Tracy, you see a real character come through and you see him take control.
I think that's magical, [that] she brings out the best in everyone. My high school experience was a great one. That's when I got into theater and I started performing. It was a great experience for me. I was teased a lot.
I had a lot of Ambers in my life, so I know what it's like. When Tracy is made fun of by Amber and Wilma, I know what it's like. It was easy for me to tap into those emotions. Tracy if you could now turn around to Amber and say You know, it's funny; I've gone home now and see a lot of those girls. Everybody deserves a second chance, so I'm talking to them, and I know who my real friends are.
Well, you'll be moving out of Great Neck soon enough. Don't tell my mother [laughs]. You probably already have your agents in place. New York City is one of the best places to be.
Where did you study dance? I learned I was not a dancer before Hairspray. So all the dancing you see in the movie, I just shook what my mama gave me. My mama didn't give me anything, so I just shook what I had. Seeing how you wear your hair now, how does it feel for you to wear it in 50s styles like that big beehive?
Actually, I get to go brag around now, because I did change a little bit to play Link. I gained 15 pounds. That was fun for me, but of course now I get to run and talk about it, pretend how dedicated I am. My hair was very big, but I love my hair! It was the first time I ever reached 5 feet because I'm 4" It was the final piece for Tracy, the final way of getting into that character and letting her emerge.
How long did it take you to put on? It took us about an hour and a half to get it all ratted up and perfectly round. If this movie makes million bucks, and you made a sequel and we were living in a perfect world, what would you want or expect for the two characters? That would be so much fun. That would be amazing!
I think it would be fun to see them together. Like 20 years down the road, Tracy is making sandwiches for Link. I think anything with this cast would be great. What was it like working with Queen Latifah? She's been an idol of mine growing up, because she was always a beautiful woman, proud of who she was, embraced who she was, shared it with the world and didn't apologize for it.
So, for me, to work with one of my idols was one of the coolest experiences of my life, and now to know her for the person she is, the incredible human being, is really the most rewarding thing. I feel like such a dork. She is so awesome. I want to hang out with her more. And getting to work with John Travolta, too?