Hudgens latest role in the Ron Krauss directed film “Gimme Shelter” shows the talented actress in a whole new light, and genre. Gimme Shelter

Vanessa Hudgens may be best known for her role in Disney’s “High School Musical,” but the actress has moved to higher level of acting now. Undergoing both an emotional and physical metamorphosis, Hudgens latest role in the Ron Krauss directed film “Gimme Shelter” shows the talented actress in a whole new light and genre. The film, which premieres in theaters today, Jan. 24, chronicles the sad and desperate life of Agnes “Apple” Bailey. Apple has spent her first 16 years of life with her abusive and drug addicted mother, June, portrayed by a nearly unrecognizable Rosario Dawson. With little options left, Apple decides to run away in search of her estranged father, Tom Fitzpatrick, played by Brendan Fraser. Her search leads her to a well-to-do family complete with two children and a Wall Street broker in her attempt to mend the broken relationship. Apple is welcomed to stay in the home, but is soon forced to leave when she realizes she's pregnant. Her father, and his wife push Apple to choose an abortion. However, with no family of her own, the teen grows attached to her child, flees an abortion clinic and gets into a nearly fatal car crash.

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Apple finds herself in the hospital where she begrudgingly befriends a kind priest, Father McCarthy, portrayed by James Earl Jones. While their relationship is tension-filled, the priest directs her to a church-sponsored home for pregnant teens run by Kathy DiFiore. Despite her mother's reluctance to let her daughter and her welfare check go, Apple evades her mother’s desperate attempts to stuck her back in and finds solace at the shelter. Apple soon accepts them as the family she never had.

What drew you to the role?

VH: My agency sent the script over my way, and I read it, and I feel like it’s one of those roles that I have dreamt about since I was a little girl. It’s rare that you get to read scripts like this. It’s fearless, and it deals with a lot on content that is very easily brushed over. She is such a strong, powerful women, and that's the most attractive to me.

What was it like to alter your appearance for the role?

VH: It was fun. It was amazing. There is nothing cooler than looking in the mirror and not seeing yourself. I think as an actor that is kind of the dream. I had the most amazing time. It was a lot of work, and it was painful at times. But because I was challenging myself every day, it was so liberating and thrilling.

How was it playing a character based on a real-life person?

VH: My character is based off of two different girls' stories, and one of the girls was leaving at Several Sources Shelter when I was living there and we became very close. I love portraying a real person because that means I don't have to create the character on my own. I like having it as a referenc. I can go to that person and ask their opinion or how they felt about something.

Have you ever known anyone in this type of situation?

VH: I had a friend that I grew up with and she was homeless at 15 when she ran away from home. But she is genuinely the biggest burst of sunshine that I have ever met. Really shows that sometimes throughout even darkness, you really control your destiny, and the way you look at life is your own choice.

How did you deal with all the traumas in Apple’s life? How did you manage all the issues in the right order?

VH: Ron and the writing. I think it was just important to see it first hand, and what effects those things would have on a young woman. And then being at the shelter really showed me what it would be like. It’s all about circumstance and situation. I felt like I could be there, if I didn’t have my parents or the upbringing that I did.

“Gimme Shelter" is written and directed by Ron Krauss after his experience living and working within Kathy DiFiore’s Several Sources Shelters. Vanessa Hudgens also spent about three weeks in the shelter living with the teen mothers, as she prepared for this role.

VH: I lived in the shelter, and Kathy was there and so was Darlisha, who the role of “Apple” is based off of and I became very close with her. She’s amazing, and she’s growing so much. She studying to become a nurse. The beginning was taxing, but it was fun to see the behind the scenes that go into being a mom.

How did this role change you?

VH: It really humbled me, first and foremost. Secondly, it made me realize there is so much we need to be doing to help out. These topics are the things that are simply glanced upon, and they are the ones who need the most help. It made me want to be a better humanitarian and made me very grateful.”

As for the future, Hudgens doesn’t seem to be on the path of a slow down. When asked what roles she wants to play in the future, the talented actress responded, “roles that will challenge me, that will push me outside of my comfort zone, roles that make me grow as an actor and whatever feels right in my heart. That's what I listen to first.”

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