Fans might remember Nikki Blonsky for her leading turn in the 2007 blockbuster Hairspray, in which she starred as Tracy Turnblad, a plus-size teen whose plucky personality and dance moves land her on a local dance show (plus, she got to make out with Zac Efron in the film — what a gig).
One might assume that Blonsky went on to become a household name in the years following the success of the feel-good musical film. However, the opposite seemed to happen with the actress nabbing fewer and fewer roles and nearly slipping into obscurity – at least by Hollywood standards. So where exactly did Nikki Blonsky go? Did she quit the industry? What has she been up to since belting out “Good Morning Baltimore”? And can fans find her acting now?
Read on to get the full scoop on the actor’s life post-Hairspray. She is living proof that you really can’t stop the beat — no matter how hard the world tries to stop you.
After 'Hairspray,' Nikki Blonsky worked a couple regular jobs
In July 2011, four years after the release of Hairspray, E! News claimed that Nikki Blonsky was working at a high-end shoe boutique. While the actress asserted that the media had it wrong, tweeting, “So much false reporting! & false quotes. NO career changing! just experimented 4 a day working @ a friends boutique 2 see what it was like,” her boss told a slightly different version of events.
“She was scheduled to work two to three times a week, until this media frenzy took over,” her boss confirmed to the outlet. By December 2011, Blonsky had switched jobs and landed a gig as a makeup artist at a salon. This time, she owned the accomplishment and proudly tweeted about it. “Its true Im [email protected] Superstar Salon as a makeup artist & more Im proud 2 b workin & helpin pay bills BUT ill NEVER loose sight of my dreams,” she wrote at the time.
Nikki Blonsky didn't leave Hollywood — Hollywood 'left' her
In a 2017 interview with Out magazine, Nikki Blonsky revealed the reason fans haven’t seen much of her on the big screen (or the small screen) since her breakout role. “I did not take a conscious step out of Hollywood and so long as I’m alive, I never will. Singing and acting has been my dream since I was three,” she said, adding, “It kind of feels like the industry left me.”
Blonsky felt she got typecast as her Hairspray character, Tracy Turnblad — “[w]e were both plus size, we both come from loving families, we both want to sing, dance and live our lives, but there’s a lot more to me” — but the actor wanted to do more, explaining she wanted to work in different genres and nab more serious roles.
She explained that it stung when she seemed to be ostracized, particularly when she would see her former Hairspray co-stars — like Zac Efron, Brittany Snow, John Travolta, Christopher Walken, and more — go on to get project after project.
With the great success of the film — at the time of it’s release, it “deliver[ed] the biggest opening on record for a musical,” according to Box Office Mojo — the letdown was even harder. “It felt like they took me to the top of a mountain and gave me everything I ever wanted,” Blonsky revealed to Out. “Then after a year, they all just looked at me and said, ‘Okay, bye!’ and left me with no way to get down.”
Nikki Blonsky has still had a number of roles since 'Hairspray'
It’s important to note that Nikki Blonsky has not entirely disappeared from the industry and is still acting. Shortly after the success of Hairspray, Blonsky went on to star in a television movie called Queen Sized. In 2010, she nabbed a starring role on the now-defunct ABC Family television network’s series Huge, which was about a group of teens who are sent to a weight loss summer camp.
Since then, however, she has been cast in smaller parts. She had a two-episode arc on Smash in 2013, and voiced the character of Lady Paw Paw in the Pup Star films. At the time of this writing, her most recent film role is the character “Mrs. E” in the 2019 horror movie Ghost in the Graveyard.
In 2017, Blonsky was set to star in the Off-Broadway production Stuffed, but had to withdraw while the show was still in previews after dealing with an illness that prevented her from attending rehearsals, according to Playbill. That same year, Blonsky described her healthy outlook on the casting process to Out magazine, saying, “I love this business, but I’ve learned that if I don’t get a role or a part, I’m going to survive.”
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