Vanessa Hudgens has gone from sugar-coated Disney star to dangerously wild Spring Breaker and now pregnant teen dramatic actress. With her latest film Gimme Shelter, she takes on the role of a pregnant teen who flees her abusive mother and ends up on the streets. As a film with a message close to her heart, this morning Hudgens was honored by The Candie’s Foundation for her efforts in educating youth about the consequences of teen pregnancy. We caught up with Hudgens at the event to chat.
So how did you become involved with The Candie’s Foundation?
I did a movie called Gimme Shelter and it deals with teen pregnancy and it was my first time really getting a glimpse of the reality of it and how scary it is to be a teen and alone and pregnant. The foundation is really great because it’s really important to keep awareness up and raise awareness and they’ve been doing that since 2001.
You actually went and stayed in a shelter to prepare for this movie—how was that experinece?
It was amazing, but it was a shock in the beginning because I’ve never been surrounded by that before. I stayed in the same shelter for about two weeks, so it was nice because I got to get really close to some of the girls there and really learn their story and their struggle and the hardship. I built so much respect for these women because it’s such a scary thing and you have to be so strong in order to get through it.
As your most dramatic role yet, what was the biggest challenge for you?
The most challenging part was getting out of it. I was so passionate about the project and so thrilled and excited to be doing something different and talking about a cause I thought was really important, but afterwards I didn’t know how to leave my character. So it was hard for me to find myself again. And that was the first time that’s happened to me, I just didn’t know how to be me afterwards because I was so comfortable and so happy in this character that it became home.
Is it exciting to find those roles where you can lose yourself?
It’s an added bonus. It’s like having your cake with frosting on top and eating it too. It’s just the full package and fun when you get to do that. You really get to get your teeth gritty and get dirty and super involved.
So many of your fans are young girls who look up to you, so do you find it important to use your celebrity in this way?
It’s very important to share a voice like that, and this a very important topic. Over 700,00 teens are becoming pregnant every single year and eight out of ten teen fathers don’t even marry the mother. So that means these girls are left on their own and it’s really scary and really hard, and you’re only young once and you really want to be able to take that time to be a kid and have fun and achieve your dreams. So it’s just nice to raise awareness and make teens think twice.