The ABC Family drama Huge, which is about teens at a weight loss camp named Camp Victory, is shocking for the number of genuinely plus-sized actors in the cast. The series is written by Winnie Holzman, creator of the legendary teen drama My So-Called Life, and writer of the book for Wicked, as well as her 24-year-old daughter, Savannah Dooley. It is based on a book from Alloy Entertainment, the behemoth that created Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars.
This subject matter is rarely properly dealt with on tv. So far the show seems to not be coming down hard on fat camps, nor arguing for them, but rather using the camp as a way to explore what it's like to be an overweight teenager. The tone is pretty serious. The main character, Willamina, a sarcastic girl who has been sent to the camp against her wishes, is played by Nikki Blonksy, best known for her role as the maniacally enthusiastic Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray.
Why did you want to do “Huge”?
It was a scripted show about plus sized people. And people forget that most of America is over a size 12-14. What the media feeds the kids is that you have to be a size 2 in order to be an actress or a singer, or whatever. And that’s not the case. You take someone like me, who is definitely not a size 2 or a 4, and I am living the dream. So I was so pleased to hear that they had the courage to make a show like this, with a full plus-sized cast, and we are just having the time of our life. What I’m getting so excited about is that people will be able to see that plus-sized people are not just there for the joke or the laugh. We have the same issues that skinny people have. We have body issues. We have eating disorders. We deal with everything in this show that thin people deal with. Just because we’re plus-sized doesn’t mean we don’t deal with it.
Did you have a prior opinion about weight loss camps before you did this show?
My opinion is if the kids themselves say they want to go, I think they are perfectly fine. If the parents are pushing camp, like in my character's circumstance, then it is not ok- that’s sending a message to the child that you’re not good enough for us, and no child should ever have to go through that.
Will is so different from the role you’re most known for, Tracey Turnblad in Hairspray. How did you feel about playing a darker, more sarcastic character?
I loved Tracy—don’t get me wrong—but Will is so much fun to play. I didn’t want anyone else to play her. I kept telling my agent, I have to play this girl. If anyone is going to play this sarcastic girl and still be likable, I have to. It’s a different side of me.
Were you nervous about doing the striptease that Will does in the first episode?
That was actually Day One, first shot, and I just went for it, There were over 200 people there, watching it. I just said, you know what Nikki, here’s your time, let it all hang out. I just had so much fun. My mom was there, and she gave me thumbs up, and it was a go. I just did the striptease like I was brushing my teeth. It was no big deal.
Was that your first strip tease?
But maybe not your last.
Maybe not. Never say never.