Nikki Blonsky is learning that being plus-size can be a plus for an actress.
After her breakout role as Tracy Turnblad in the 2007 film musical Hairspray, Blonsky was told by more than one industry insider to trim her waistline or she might end up on the unemployment line.
"I just believed that the right role would come along when it comes along. Thank goodness I stuck to my guns because it's come along," she says.
That plum role is Will, a smart-mouthed teen at a weight-loss camp in the new ABC Family series Huge, which premiered Monday. "I would say I'm feeling bigger than life, but I'm feeling huger than life right now."
Fifth time's the charm: Just as she did for Hairspray, Blonsky, 21, auditioned five times before getting Huge.
"I told my agent I'm doing whatever I can to get this role. I don't care if I have to stand on my head," she said. "Someone was finally doing a show about plus-size people and really telling their story and having an outlet for kids to tune in.
"I know that this character I'm playing is going to help kids who are going through issues that my character is going through."
Tracy turnaround: Don't expect another shade of sunny Tracy Turnblad from Blonsky. Will isn't above selling food to fellow campers or playing the green-eyed monster to Amber (Hayley Hasselhoff, David's daughter), Will's rival in a romantic triangle.
"Tracy was more like, 'Let's get the world together,' and Will is more 'leave me alone, leave me in my own world. Please don't bother me,'" Blonsky says. "She doesn't care what anybody thinks about her. Her motto is: 'If you don't like what you're looking at, turn around.'"
Hometown girl: When Huge premiered Monday, Blonsky planned to be in Great Neck, N.Y., watching with her parents, Karen and Carl, and the rest of her family. Then it was back to work on Huge on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
"When you come out to a big city like Los Angeles, it really is culture shock," Blonsky says. "It made me miss my block, seeing my neighbors walking their dogs; it made me miss getting in the car and driving down the street to Starbucks. ... I like L.A. a lot, but Great Neck is my home. Long Island is my home."