"It's important to allow the audience to reimagine you as someone different"

Interview with Vanessa Hudgens
Gabriella of High School Musical is about to be thirty and celebrate her birthday with a movie. Second Act's main character was Jennifer Lopez, but Vanessa Hudgens also played an important role as a vice-rector of a great company.
Second Act was shot in New York and you share a few scenes with Jennifer in public locations like Central Park. What was that like? Were there a lot of fans watching?
It was honestly kind of a disaster (laughs). I was trying to have a very honest, real and emotional moment with Jen but there were literally 100 people surrounding us and freaking out. It was rough. Not ideal. But luckily how nurturing and how loving Jen is she looked at me and said, ‘You’re fine. You’ve got this’. I was like, ‘OK’.
In the movie your character has a hidden talent, photography. What is your hidden talent?
Well, I don't cook. Not that. I don't know. I'm horrible at answering those kinds of questions. I’ve designed a suit collection, which is kind of unexpected I guess for people who don't really know me, but somehow is perfectly aligned with this film because my character is such a young business woman who does power suit.
Did Jennifer give you any specific advice?
Yeah. One of the things that it seems so simple but is truly so helpful is if I'm not happy in a certain point of my career to look at the people who I admire and find who is doing that, who's helping them do that. Just find those people that I want to model myself after and look at the people surrounding them as well like stylists or publicists.
Who are the people you admire?
It’s different people for different things. I mean obviously like Meryl Streep has always been my number one icon when it comes to acting. I think that it's so important to constantly allow the audience to reimagine you as someone different and so I feel like that's what I want to try to continue to do throughout my career. There are certain people in the fashion world that I look up to, people who are actors as well who are just very interesting to me with what they're doing with their fashion and the way that they express themselves.
Jennifer’s character finds herself aged in her 40s and having to change careers. Do you have friends or family members who have had to embark on a second act like that?
Yes, I know it intimately. Not myself but someone I'm very close to. It's hard because it truly is like you are the only one holding yourself back. You're capable, you're willing, you are intelligent and you can do it, but if you have a belief that you can't, that's what's going to talk louder. I'm hopeful this person will watch the movie and be inspired to do something about it.
In Second Act people are judged by the college they went to or the fact they did not even go to college. There’s a bias. Did you face a bias like that coming out of High School Musical? Was it hard to shake that off when looking for new projects to work on?
Yes. I think that in the beginning it was definitely difficult because everything that was coming in was stuff that I could do in my sleep. I mean, it's not going to challenge me and I'm not going to grow from that and what's the point of doing it if you're not gonna be challenged to grow? So I did have dry spell periods where I'm kind of sitting around calling my agents and managers saying, ‘Guys, what's going on? I need to work, I need to do something. I'm starting to lose my mind and go crazy’. But it was just because the right things weren't around at that time, but because I stayed true to what I felt like I was worth I've been able to do so many incredible things like Spring Breakers, which was completely outside of that box and something that I'm so proud of. It has been like 12 years since the first High School Musical. It's been long enough that I've been able to embrace it with open arms. It’s a very special thing if people always remember me as Gabriella from High School Musical because it was a big part of their childhood and they learned to love musicals because of it. I'll take that as a very special thing. An iconic character is something that doesn't happen to everyone so I'm embracing it.
Tulu/Freeman Film
2019.01.07
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