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Vanessa Hudgens' jump from teen idol to A-list actress

Vanessa Hudgens is a well-loved actor who has made an amazing transition from child star to ingénue. Her star continues to shine in her latest role, a pregnant teen in the critically acclaimed film "Gimme Shelter." This role has created a huge buzz, as her transformation is extraordinary. While Vanessa has been slowly moving away from teen roles in hits such as "High School Musical" and "Beastly," her most recent portrayal is truly amazing. Vanessa underwent a complete physical transformation for her latest role that included chopping off her signature long hair and gaining a substantial amount of weight. The results are an incredibly believable and beautiful character.

In "Gimme Shelter," (watch trailer) Vanessa plays Apple, a 16 year old pregnant teenager who has run away from home and is forced to live on the streets. With nowhere to turn and a baby on the way, Apple eventually ends up in a New Jersey Hospital. It is there where she meets a caring priest played by James Earl Jones. With his help, she ends up moving into a shelter for pregnant teens. At the shelter, she ultimately finds acceptance, hope and redemption through a group of people who show her unconditional love and compassion.

Vanessa's physical transformation for the role is Oscar-worthy in itself, as she cut off her beautiful long locks in exchange for a short shaggy cut, as well as gained 15 additional pounds, a significant amount for her petite frame. Additionally, Vanessa donned a neck tattoo every day on set, and her role required her to engage in a series of physical fights.

Vanessa Hudgens' squeaky-clean image from her "High School Musical" days is definitely taking a unique turn, and her character of Apple is both layered and difficult, yet incredibly beautiful. While Vanessa is almost unrecognizable, the character she has created has a true beauty from the inside out, as her soul is one of a survivor. Not only did Vanessa fully engage in her role as Apple, she also made a significant mental transition in order to get into the mindset of a pregnant runaway with nowhere to turn. While preparing for the role, Vanessa stayed at an actual homeless shelter in Newark, N.J.

During Vanessa's time at the shelter, she got to know several of the teenage residents and learned first hand of the trials and tribulations of the young women. In addition to learning their stories in order to create her character, Vanessa also studied the young women at the shelter carefully in order to recreate certain mannerisms and speech patterns, allowing for true authenticity for Apple's back story.

Vanessa also denied herself the pleasure of both listening to music and singing, as she felt it could help her move deep into the dark places of her character. In addition, she consulted regularly with the young women at the shelter on specific script notes. Vanessa's transformation was definitely more than physical. The actress has stated that once filming was over, it was difficult for her to transition back to her real self. The character of Apple truly affected Vanessa and changed her life for the better.

While many teen stars fail to transition into A-list adult talent, this is absolutely not the case for Vanessa Hudgens. Her impressive body of film and music work continues to grow, and her latest role as Apple in "Gimme Shelter" shows that she is a true contender for a lifetime of stardom. Instead of wearing a wig or pregnancy costume, Vanessa took it upon herself to become fully engrossed in her character by literally changing her entire physical appearance and submerging herself deeply into her character. By changing herself physically, Vanessa was able to truly feel like her character, making her experience extremely realistic.

The character of Apple is not only about the physical aspects of tattoos, short hair and facial piercings. Vanessa Hudgens rose to the next level when preparing mentally for the role. Vanessa drew from her personal experiences as well as the experiences of the teens in the shelter to create a believable character. Vanessa's mental and emotional transition is what allows audiences to connect with Apple on a much deeper level, as many young women can relate to teen pregnancy and homelessness. Vanessa Hudgens is a one-of-a-kind talent that is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. The future definitely looks bright for the multi-talented Vanessa Hudgens, and her incredible transformation in "Gimme Shelter" is only the beginning for this bright young star.

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