Anna Maria Perez de Tagle chats about “Fame”

By Julia Dane

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Photo courtesy of imbd.comThe celebrated music and dances from the 1980 film, “Fame,” has returned to the big-screen in the 2009 remake that comes to theaters Sept. 25. The Black & White, along with other high school newspapers, caught up with cast member Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (Hannah Montana, Camp Rock) to chat about the movie and her life as a young Hollywood actress:

Albright High School: How will the movie positively influence teenagers today?

Anna Maria Perez de Tagle: It’s definitely a movie that shows the struggles of being an aspiring actor, singer and dancer. It shows the individuality of people trying to get to where they want to be; the hard work, the determination and the perseverance that is put into reaching the goal that somebody has. You’ll see that in this movie, especially with my character. I play the aspiring actress. I think people will like this movie today, not just because of that, but also because of the amazing music and beautiful dance numbers. It’s definitely more contemporary, more relatable to teenagers now.

Latina Dominica High School: What self-discoveries did your character make, and during the filming of “Fame,” what self-discoveries did you make about yourself?

AP: I think Joy’s self discovery is to believe in herself more. She goes through an obstacle where she’s auditioning for a role, but she walks out because she doesn’t have the confidence to believe in herself. I learned the same thing because I was in the same situation. I was trying out for roles against others, some of them my friends. And you do get kind of put down when you find out that they get the role and you don’t, even though you felt like you would get it. I feel like it’s just in God’s hands for every project that I book. There’s a lot of patience in Hollywood. That’s what I learned.

 Black & White: How did you balance your studies and acting?

AP: After eighth grade, I decided that I really wanted to move to Los Angeles to get the booking of Hannah Montana. So I moved to L.A. without a second thought and I applied to a performing arts high school called Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, thinking that I would be able to juggle work and studying easily. I was very wrong. I started missing a lot of school because I had to film. However, I was very lucky to pass everything with flying colors. I did have to leave after ninth grade because things started getting hectic. I was then home-schooled for three more years which was way easier.

Montgomery Blair High School: Does working for Disney on shows that are targeted to a younger audience get boring for you?

AP: It’s definitely not boring. Disney is a great network. I am happy where I am today. I love my audience and I love my fans.

St. Joseph High School: A lot of people think Disney highlights fame and popularity as the sign of success. What do you have to say to the critics who accuse the Disney Channel of overemphasizing this?

AP: I actually disagree. I think that everyone who has a name today has worked hard to get where they are. I love all the Disney Channel stars. I am so happy to call them my friends. I know how hard they work to be able to make a name for themselves.

Towson High School: How is this version of “Fame” different from other kinds of musicals that come out today like “High School Musical?”

AP: Musicals like “High School Musical” and “Hairspray “have a lot of color. With “Fame,” you see the kind of grittiness of the real world and the heart of the characters. There’s no overnight success. There’s no easy button. This movie is not cookie-cutter, unlike a lot of musicals out there. It’s like the behind-the-scenes of “High School Musical.”

Renroe Township High School: Can you talk about the transformation from being a reserved person off-screen to a character that is an aspiring actress and more out there on screen?

AP: Joy is the extrovert and I am the introvert. I am very shy and reserved. It takes a little bit more time for me to warm up to people, unlike Joy, who befriends everyone instantly. I like doing these kinds of characters because they rub off on me. I become more positive and more confident in myself.

Princeton High School: Many schools are cutting their music and theater programs. How important do you think these kind of programs are to regular kids in school today?

AP: I feel like they are very important because in those programs, kids express how they feel. If it’s not through a sport or anything else, music is the next best thing. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to live without music, dancing or any other kind of art form. I think every school should have a music program.

Click here to watch a trailer of Fame

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