HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 Interview – Part 2 – Read or listen to an Interview with the Cast

     October 26, 2008

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

As most of you know, High School Musial 3 opened this weekend to solid reviews and huge box office numbers. Since everyone knows about the franchise…this intro will be very brief.

Posted below is the transcript of a press conference I attended with half of the cast. The people in attendance were Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Olesya Rulin, Monique Coleman.

During the 20 or so minutes we discussed tons of behind the scenes stories and we also talked about what is coming up for all of them. If you’re a fan of HSM, you’ll definitely enjoy the interview.

As always, if you’d rather listen to the press conference just click here. You can also download the audio and put it on your iPod!

Also, if you’d like to watch some movie clips and a featurette on High School Musical 3, click here.

Finally,if you’d like to hear the other cast members talk about the movie, click here to read or listen to the press conference with Zac Efron, Corbin Bleu, Matt Prokop, Jemma McKenzie-Brown, Justin Martin, director Kenny Ortega and producer Bill Borden.

Q: Vanessa, are you proud to be representing Latinas in these High School Musical films? Have Latin fans come up to you?

Vanessa: That’s actually one thing that drew me to the project. It wasn’t the stereotypical leading lady; the fact that she is Hispanic, Gabriella Montez, was something that I found really interesting and I’m very proud to be a part of it. I feel like there’s not that many people who can represent for a different ethnicity and I’m really proud. Whenever I get the chance to go to Mexico, I try my hardest to speak Spanish to connect with everybody but it really is an honor.

Q: In all three of these movies, you seem so happy. What makes you so happy all the time?

Vanessa: [laughter]. I get to do what I love. It’s amazing. I grew up acting and singing and dancing and I get to work with my best friends. This is the dream job and I really love my character. She’s this strong, positive young woman who is always fighting for the right things so she’s a fun character to play. I’m a happy person as well so it’s always easy to put a smile on your face.

Q: Your characters have to make a decision about what to do with your lives after high school. Growing up, did you always know what you wanted to be when you were an adult?

Monique: Yes, but I’m not sure that our characters do have a clear vision of exactly what they want to do. I think that what High School Musical does is break us out of that box. Now we’re living in a time where kids need to know what they want to do by the time they’re seven. That’s ridiculous. What this movie says is you don’t need to know by the time you’re eighteen. You don’t even need to know ever. Actually, you have a whole world of possibilities that lay before you and ultimately, the only thing that is important is that you do make a choice and the choice is yours. That it’s not your parents’ or your teachers’ or your friends’ decision about your future but that it is your decision. My character is a little different and did know exactly what she wanted to do and I, also, when I was very young, did know what I wanted to do. But, I do seek inspirations from this movie and it has broadened my horizons and made me feel like, you know, I’m interested in writing and speaking and doing a bunch of other things. I don’t feel like any of us is necessarily bound to the specific types of roles we’ve been playing in these movies. And we’ll hopefully, have a very colorful career ahead of all of us.

Ashley: Actually, it’s really funny because at a young age, I’ve really always known what I wanted to do. I’ve been in the business since I was three. I kind of fell into it. My parents didn’t want me in the business so they never pushed me to do anything. All they pushed me to do was to have an education and go to regular school and just be normal just like everybody else even though I was doing commercials at a young age and touring the world in ‘Les Miserables’ at age eight. But, that’s because I want to do it. I get inspired when I see things. I went to New York and saw ‘Les Miserables.’ I had to do it. I wanted to do it. I’m just very lucky and blessed that I actually got to. I usually put my mind towards things and I end up doing it which not everybody can say they can do that so I am like my character Sharpay in a way where she always knows what she wants and she goes out there and gets it. However we go about it in a different way.

Q: It can be scary making big life decisions. From an actor’s point of view, what gives you the courage to take that step?

Olesya: For me, what gives me the courage to take big steps is the possibilities. I grew up in Russia. I moved to America at age seven. I was born in a little tiny village, like twelve houses with no indoor plumbing and my parents, through a lot of work and a lot of luck, came to America and they were given this world where anything is possible and I feel like every day when I wake up I feel like that. I came from a little house without any plumbing and my dad hunted for our food and I’m here now working for Disney Channel and I represent Mickey Mouse and I think that’s awesome. It just shows me that anything is possible if you have that courage and faith in yourself, you can accomplish anything.

Q: What would you say to teens out there who are going through what your characters in this film are…Senior year, prom, graduation, going to college and all that?

Olesya: I would say “Don’t worry because failing at something can be so beautiful. Take a lot of time, especially right now, in middle school and high school.” You have to get straight ‘A’s, you can’t make any mistakes. You have to have six hundred credit hours of community service or you’re not getting into NYU. There’s so much pressure. You know what? Be crazy. Try something different. Yeah, you might fail. You might be horrible at playing the violin but at least you tried and there’s beauty in that. “Hey, I tried it and I was really bad but I did it for three years.” That’s saying something. That’s how you develop and grow into the person you are. You grow your own personal character by making mistakes, by going out there, by experimenting as much as you can and that’s life and there’s no way you should stop yourself from experiencing it.

Q: Ashley, this kind of sets you up for ‘The Sharpay Evans Musical’ in number 4. Is that going to happen and also, can the cast talk about shooting the final scene?

Ashley: I think that’s the question to direct towards Peter. I don’t know anything about that. It is flattering to have an open door, obviously for my character but I am doing other projects as well and moving on. But, this project is something I’ll always hold close to my heart. We have so much fun and we’ve created such an amazing family. I had the best time on and off screen with this cast. And the last day? It was totally emotional. Momo [to Monique] I just said ‘Momo’, Monique, actually, she cried first.

Monique: Actually no, okay I do normally, but this time I did not. You started crying first.

Ashley: Okay maybe I did and we all started crying and then huddling and it was emotional.

Monique: I was a dirty mess. I ruined my costume. I had to go back to the trailer and clean my face up but I didn’t start it this time.

Ashley: And the last day really wasn’t the last scene in the movie. It was actually a totally different scene. Kenny had said this amazing speech and that’s what got us all going. Hair and Make-up [people] even started crying. They couldn’t get hair and make-up back on us. It was an emotional fest. But even Lucas Grabeel who is such an amazing person and is usually stand-off-ish in feelings, he doesn’t show his feelings and he even teared up. That’s something that’s really big because for the last three years, he’s the man. He doesn’t do that. But he showed some tears and it was definitely emotional.

Q: What did Kenny say that was so emotional?

Monique: We’re the ones that get the attention from this movie primarily and that’s not necessarily where all the attention is due. It’s an ensemble; it’s the writer, producers, everyone involved. But, Kenny really is sort of the cornerstone for us. He obviously made all our dreams come true [note: she’s tearing up here] He said, “You know, guys, I’m so proud of you but I want you to know that this was my dream. It was my dream to be able to do this in my career and I owe it to all of you and the performances that you gave and the energy that you put behind this and I’m eternally grateful to you” and we were just like [she starts mock-crying] to know that not only has your life been changed but you’re able to do that back and that’s this whole thing is about. We’re inspiring kids but then kids get to turn around and inspire us back. There’s nothing more exciting than for some child to talk up to you and say ‘oh my gosh, I love Taylor McKessie or ‘I wear glasses too’ or just the little things that we don’t even realize that kids pick up on or connect to. I can tell, when a kid shows up wearing a little tie…’who’s your favorite?’ [laughter]. It’s really inspiring.

Q: Monique, after doing “Dancing with the Stars,” how did you feel when you found out there would be ballroom dancing in HSM3?

Monique: I was excited about that.

Q: Were you afraid of hearing Len [Goodman] and Bruno’s [Tonioli]’s voices in your head while you were dancing?

Monique: Absolutely not. “Dancing with the Stars” was a very interesting experience for me, one that I feel like I grew a lot from and learned a lot about myself. One of the things I learned about myself is that I’m not actually a competitive person. I only compete with myself. So, that kind of platform or that kind of area really isn’t suited for my personality. I was very excited that we were going to be doing the waltzing. For one, I wasn’t going to be judged but also because I think we have this idea of high school and the prom and that usually involves [she does her own beat box noises] that type of music and really short skirts and “how revealing can my prom dress be?” and that type of thing. For the prom in our musical to be a waltz, I felt like, is very classy. Truly, a throwback to old movie musicals and also bringing a class and integrity to a younger generation because whatever you expose kids to is what they’re going to absorb, so if you expose kids to only techno and whatever then that’s what they’re going to think is the standard. But, if you expose them to something that is very difficult and does require trust and does require you to be intimately close to someone without it being sexual, then I think we are really sending out an awesome message.

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Q: Vanessa, I wanted to ask you about ballroom dancing with Zac. Is that something you both had done before or something you had to learn?

Vanessa: Oh no, we definitely had to learn. It was the most difficult dance that I’ve had to do throughout the three movies just because it’s so different. I’ve taken tap and jazz and hip-hop but nothing could have prepared me for doing the waltz; the lifts we do, the turns we do, it was a lot. When Kenny told me about it, I thought he was kidding because it’s just so far-fetched but I’m really proud of it. Like Monique said, it is kind of a throwback and it’s just so classic and so classy and it’s so sweet and romantic that it actually turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the movie and I really proud that it came out so well.

Q: Favorite scene, favorite song?

Vanessa: It’s so hard. We’ve done three movies. It’s been three years of our lives that we’ve had the most amazing time. We’ve done so much together and been through so much that picking one memory is almost impossible. One really great thing for me was “We’re All in This Together” because it was kind of where our magic really came into the picture. We became this family and it was a moment that was really special, really magical. I remember me and Monique were crying, Monique was crying and it was a really great moment for me.

Monique: Like Vanessa said, it’s been such an incredible ride and we’ve gotten to do things that other actors don’t get to do ever in their careers, from doing concert tours to… this amount of press that we’re doing for this feature, we did for a TV movie and went all over the world and got exposed to so many more things. Every single day, whether it be working with the Make a Wish Foundation or having someone that you really admire, like Chandra Wilson of “Grey’s Anatomy” whom I love, having her know who I am…every day there’s something exciting to remember.

Q: How did your real-life Senior year compare to this film?

Ashley: For me, my real-life Senior year was completely opposite of Sharpay’s. She’s thinking about a Julliard scholarship the entire senior year because it’s a step towards Broadway for her whereas I was already acting in my high school. I had to make a big decision. Education is very important in the family. My sister went to Cal State Northridge and so I’d asked my dad, “Can I please take off a year before I go to college because I really want to focus on my acting.” In order to do that he said “Well, you have to take as many acting classes as you can. I don’t want you sitting around waiting for an audition.” And I did. I took as many acting classes as I could. I went to Groundlings for improv. But, I actually missed the structure of school because I went to regular school my whole life. But that was just a choice I made because I knew I wanted to be an actress. If I went to college it would have been for writing but I get to co-write my music on my album so I get to use that. But now Sharpay is going to U of Albuquerque and assisting Ms. Darbus [in the High School Drama Department].

Olesya: My Senior year is really similar. I was working a fulltime job and I had five AP classes and just worked all day long and went to school all day and did a lot of community service and I graduated with my associates from high school and I was just really busy and really just focused on college and trying to get my full ride and all that craziness that comes with Senior year. I had really bad Senior-itis, never went to school but got great grades. [laughter]

Vanessa: I was actually home-schooled so I never really went to high school. That’s just another reason why High School Musical means so much to me. I got to go to my prom for the first time but it’s a lot better. I got to have the prom that every girl wishes they had and I got to wear a cap and gown for the very first time and graduate with people who I love dearly, the cast who have become some of my closest friends, so it’s been a lot of fun.

Monique: I went to a private school and when I graduated, we did not wear a cap and gown. We wore white dresses and had a rose and I guess it was somewhat similar to the graduation in this film. I wasn’t nearly as emotional. I was seventeen and I couldn’t get out of high school fast enough, or get on with my life fast enough and I couldn’t get far away from South Carolina fast enough at that time so I’m sure I had different motivations than my character does but I definitely was a leader and ambitious.

Q: Did you always know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

Vanessa: I always really liked acting, singing and dancing and it’s been a hobby of mine, so I was lucky to have my hobbies turn out to be my career.

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