#GimmeShelter: @VanessaHudgens Shows Us Her Acting Chops. #VanessaHudgens #Surprises #Gigi #GigionBroadway

Yesterday, I watched a movie called Gimme Shelter on Netflix. I didn’t realize that Vanessa Hudgens was actually in the movie until I started it, and even then, I questioned whether or not it was her. Now, my only references to her work other than the High School Musical franchise, was Sucker Punch. That being said, I didn’t really have any high expectations. I’d heard of the movie briefly before, but didn’t get a chance to catch it when it was in theaters. That being said, Netflix is a wonderful invention. Based on a true story, Hudgens plays Agnes “Apple” Bailey, a pregnant runaway teen. The film co-stars Rosario Dawson as her drug-addled mother, Brendan Fraser as her well-to-do biological father, James Earl Jones as a compassionate priest, and character-actress, Ann Dowd as Kathy, the woman who runs a shelter for homeless, young mothers.

The role of Apple is a far cry from Hudgens’ current project as the title character in Gigi on Broadway. Her portrayal is riveting, raw and honest. She gave the role everything her talents could provide, had the dialect down, and was vanity-free.  She really shines and seems to leave the Disney star behind with this role. In a key scene in the hospital, Hudgens spars with James Earl Jones and holds her own against the industry veteran. That scene itself pretty much sealed the deal for me, giving me a new found respect for an actress who has often been simply labeled a teen star. Although the film could sometimes have the feeling of a Lifetime movie or even reminiscent of Precious, it is well executed and performances elevate it to a level that makes it worth a watch. It’s currently on Netflix and I am glad I stumbled upon a gripping tale with amazing performances.

The Need for Make Believe: #Disney #Magic #Wonder #Imagination


Buzzfeed just did an article, if you can call it that, on a mother from Florida who lives near Disney World and makes adorable costumes for her three-year-old daughter, Lane. It wasn’t too much of an article, but it did mention the fact that the costumes were insanely cute and accurate. They also mentioned that, the Huffington Post did actually write an article about the talented mother/daughter duo in a bit more detail. However, I want to expand upon a comment in the Huffington Post article because, as a writer and an actor, I believe it is important.

The Rouches originally decided to purchase Disney World annual passes to give their daughter, whom Jennifer describes as “quite shy,” something fun to do with her parents while surrounded by other kids. “We wanted her to not be crippled by shyness, so we took her to a place where a kid could feel happy and safe to dream and play and be themselves or anyone they want to be.”

I believe it is important for kids, and adults alike, to not lose their sense of play and wonder. I think imagination and creativity are two of the most important qualities that we possess as human beings along with compassion. Like the mother says, having a sense of play can help someone break out of their shell. She is giving her daughter the gift of being a little kid, of play and imagination. She doesn’t seem to be engrossed in playing on an iPad at three, she seems to be enjoying what is actually around her.

When I was a little girl, I too loved princesses and superheroes. Yes, my mother would make my Halloween costume (I was Wonder Woman when I was five,) and no, I am sad to report, I have never been to Disney World. Yet, my mother taught me this: Always have a sense of wonder; A sense of play. Be willing to try something new. Create. In recent months, I’ve learned that I have my greatest sense of play, wonder and imagination through improvisation. I have found my happy place.

Nowadays, our society seems fixated on something tangible with very little thought being paid to imagination. Movies have been reformulated for a money-making “reboot.” Musicals have been revived, recycled from movies, and predictable. Plays, well, that’s another story all together. And don’t get me started on TV shows, especially of the “reality” kind. But, I think there is still time. I’m not saying creativity is dead. Believe me, it still exists.  There is still a place for creativity and imagination, and a sense of play. We just need to tap into that as adults. Also, I want to eventually go Disney World, and I’m slightly jealous of Jennifer Rouch and her wicked good seamstress skills.

You can follow Lane and Jennifer Rouch’s costumed adventures on Instagram and Tumblr.

Time Warp Tuesdays: Volume 1

There are certain shows I wish I could see again. Some I can, thanks to the beauty of Netflix and Youtube, some have been harder to find. But, I decided to compile a  list of shows I loved as a kid that make me want to go back 20 or 25 years. There will be a series of volumes with this in the next few weeks as well, so if you’re thinking of a show that’s not included in this particular list, just wait a while until part 2 for more shows!

Under the Umbrella Tree (1986-1993, from Canada): I LOVED this show as a kid. Imported from CBC in Canada, …Umbrella Tree aired on the Disney channel. Holly (a human), Iggy (an iguana), Jacob (a Blue Jay), and Gloria (a gopher). The show’s title is derived from the fact that the characters live together in a home featuring a prominent indoor umbrella tree.–Wikipedia

Sweet Valley High (1994-1997): Airing on mostly Fox stations and then UPN, this was my first foray into really being engrossed in teen drama. Granted, I watched 90210, but I was so young when it aired that I didn’t understand it. It wasn’t until my preteen years that this show came around, and it was one of my favorites. I also loved that it was originally a book series so I could “read along” with the series.

Grimm’s Fairy Tale Classics (1987-1988): Airing on Nickelodeon, this was what I thought anime was for the longest time. There is a special place in my heart for this show. And to be honest, I still enjoy finding clips of this on YouTube. Plus, it dealt with fairy tales, and I’ve always loved a good fairy tale. The quality of this series is amazing.

Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre (1982-1987) : If there were a gold standard for nostalgic television shows, this would be it for me. It was, and still is, one of my favorite series of all time. Ever. With all-star guest stars and wonderfully imaginative production values, this is series that can stand the test of time and be passed down. When and if I have children, they will be watching this on DVD. THAT’S how much I LOVE this show. You can find full episodes on YouTube, Netflix and Hulu. It still has quite the cult following 30 years after it originally aired too.

Welcome Freshmen (1991-1993): Airing on Nickelodeon, I was seven when this debuted, and to be honest, even I thought it was cheesy. At seven. That being said, I’d love to see it again, simply due to the fact that I’d probably understand it more now. Now that I look at the credits, Saved by the Bell & Welcome Freshmen must’ve had the same graphics designer. Oh, the 90s.

Hey Dude (1989-1991): Airing on Nickelodeon, it starred Christine Taylor before she was Mrs. Ben Stiller in her acting/television debut. It also made me want to move to the southwest and live on a ranch. Strangely, it’s also one of the series that made me want to act on TV.