One of the most buzzed about new summer series is ABC Family’s ‘Huge‘, chronicling the lives of a group of teens at a weight loss camp. It promises to put a new spin on teen shows by focusing on characters who are not glamorous queen bees. Executive produced by Winnie Holzman, whose gift for writing about teenagers and beauty issues made her earlier projects ‘My So-Called Life’ and ‘Wicked’ into classics, the show is already being compared to ‘Glee.’ Nikki Blonsky, best known for starring as Tracy Turnblad in ‘Hairspray,‘ plays Will, a very unhappy camper. She revealed why ‘Huge’ will make everyone laugh, cry and contemplate wearing boys sweatpants.
Tell me about your character and the overall premise of ‘Huge.’
It’s based at a fitness camp for kids to come and lose weight over the summer and go back to school in the fall and look twenty or thirty pounds lighter. My character Will doesn’t want to come but her parents are fitness gurus so they make her go. She decides, ‘Well, if I’m going to go to camp, I’m going to camp my way.’ She is a leader. She goes to the beat of her own drum. It’s totally different than any character I’ve ever played. She looks completely different from everybody else and she does not care. She would rather go big than go home. She would rather make a spectacle of herself than tell you the truth, which is what I love about her. She has a conflict with a character named Amber who’s played by Hayley Hasselhoff. Amber really wants to lose weight. Will doesn’t and they don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. There’s a lot of kids there for a lot of different reasons. Kids are not only discovering themselves on the outside but they’re also discovering themselves on the inside as well, going through camp and learning so much about other people, hearing other people’s reasons about why they would go to a fitness camp to lose weight. It’s a journey for these seven kids and they all are going through different things with their families and their emotions and their relationships. It’s a very relatable show to kids that are out there today who are an average size 14, the average teenager in America. Kids can turn on the TV and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I can totally relate to those kids because A) I look like them and B) I’m having that issue whether it’s breaking up with a boyfriend or I like the same guy as my friend does or I like this guy but he doesn’t like me back or whatever the case may be.’ Even to more serious issues as eating disorders and emotional issues about food. There’s a lot of heavy stuff but really in a beautiful setting and a beautiful tone within Huge.
Check Out an Interview with Nikki Blonsky:
What can viewers look forward to seeing in the first episode?
In the pilot, look for me because you might not recognize me. I’m not the same Nikki Blonsky you’ve seen before and you’re going to get to see a whole lot more of me than you would have ever expected. Tune in on June 28th and you’ll get the show of a lifetime.
You mentioned Will wears wild and crazy clothes. What’s her style like?
I have to tell you, this is the most comfortable wardrobe I’ve ever had. She’s comfortable in her own skin and comfortable in boys clothing, which is fun because I get to hang out in boys sweatpants all day and they’re really comfortable.
What’s it like working with Winnie Holzman?
I am a huge Winnie Holzman fan. I am a fan of My So-Called Life as well and Wicked. So it’s been an honor to be chosen to work with Winnie and to be playing this part that she nurtured and created so well. I just adore Winnie so much. It’s been incredible. She’s like another family member. She really just took us all under her wing and showed us everything that we need to do. She also let us create our own little things within our characters.
Tell me about the love triangle between Will and Amber and a counselor.
It’s interesting. I have a crush on this guy who has a crush on her so it’s kind of this constant battle between me liking him, him liking her, so I really have to deal with it myself. I have to deal with him liking her and knowing that he likes her because he confides in me as a friend. It hurts me a little that he sees me more as like a guy friend rather then a possible girlfriend. But I have some tricks up my sleeve and I might just turn him around towards my way. Who knows.
Watch a Clip from ‘Huge’:
This show is being compared to ‘Glee.’ Is that accurate?
Absolutely. It’s so accurate. I love Glee and I am so honored and privileged that they’re comparing us, saying that we’re Glee meets Ugly Betty because they’re both such wonderful shows. But I think we’re really a show that stands on our own. We’re a show that really has never been done before. There’s not a lot of things that can make you laugh and cry at the exact same time. Huge definitely does that. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will make you want to sing. Huge will make you want to do anything your heart desires.
Who are your closest friends on the set?
I love the hair and make-up people. They’re great. I love Winnie [Holzman] and Savannah [Dooley]. Paul Dooley is just the best to work with. He is my absolute, 100 percent favorite person to work with. I worked with him in Hairspray. It’s our second project together.We’re just having an absolute blast working together again. I couldn’t be more blessed to be working with Paul Dooley again. He plays Paulsy, our chef at the camp.
As you mentioned, there are not a lot of women on television who are bigger than a size four. Have people in the industry encouraged you to lose weight for the sake of your career?
I have had people tell me, ‘You should try and loose some weight and it will help get you a role.’ I kind of look at them like, ‘Yeah. Okay.’ My whole thing is I am who I am and if people want me for who I am and for my talent then that’s who I want to work with. If they want me to lose weight for a role, absolutely. I will definitely do that, because that’s for my artform. But for me as a person, for people just to like me better, I think that’s silly. Those people aren’t my true friends at all.
Do you have difficulty getting auditions or roles for characters not specifically written as plus sized?
Absolutely not. I have to say I’ve been fortunate. The film that just released at the Gen Arts film festival and the Santa Barbara film festival is called ‘Waiting for Forever’. It’s with Blythe Danner and Rachel Bilson. It wasn’t calling for a plus size girl. It was just calling for an actress. I went in for the audition and I got the role. I feel honored and blessed to be not pigeonholed into the category of just being the plus sized actress. I feel that I haven’t been kept in that corner. I’ve been on Ugly Betty, which was a huge fashion show. Who would put a plus size girl in a fashion show? But they did and they put me in really high end clothing. So I think it’s changing for the better.