Roundtable Interview with Vanessa Hudgens,
Star of “Gimme Shelter”
Dallas , Texas , January 9, 2014
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Presbyterian Outlook
Presbyterian Outlook: When you went down to the chapel, and when Apple met with the Chaplain, what passage were you reading?
Vanessa Hudgens: (awkward pause) Uh, you know, I can’t remember.
PO : He said “Turn to page 71,” but for those of us who are Bible students, what you read didn’t compute with what page 71 would have been about…..
VH: (laughs) It’s a different translation! (everyone laughs) I honestly don’t remember.
PO : Did you have any conversations with the real “Apple” about the nature of her relationship with the chaplain? I mean, James Earl Jones was only in three scenes.
VH: Um, not necessarily. I feel like the religion and faith aspect is something I see more so now, after being able to see what it’s doing to people and the way it’s connecting with people. But in the present moment, that wasn’t necessarily my focus….during the birthing scene, that was the moment when I really felt something powerful and moving, beyond acting, when they placed that baby on my chest, and I started crying, even though I knew it wasn’t my baby.
PO : Was that enough to turn you into a pro-lifer?
VH: Um (laughs) I mean, I believe….Oh, man…What I think is irrelevant because it’s about Apple and about her story and about the women who have been through this and their story. I’m simply a vessel to be able to get their story out there.
PO : You can dance!
VH: I can dance?
PO : You proved that in “High School Musical,” and you just did it again!
(everybody laughs)
PO : That scene toward the end, where you’re driving off with your Dad, and you’re feeling this ambivalence because you want to go back to the home….
VH: Yeah…
PO : How did you tap into that kind of ambivalence?
VH: I mean, it’s….sisterhood prevails, it really does. When you find your family, that’s where you’re going to be, that’s where home is. So even though, yes, she had a lot sitting there waiting for her at her father’s, it was the connection that she was searching for her entire life, to be loved….For Apple, I think it was a clear choice.
PO : Do you think Apple didn’t trust her Dad’s change of heart?
VH: I think that she did trust him, but she didn’t trust herself. It’s hard to really put your faith in other people if you don’t have faith in yourself. So I think her thing is just giving herself time to figure out who she is, who she wants to be, and then be able to give that back to her family and build that relationship there. Because she already came to her family at the shelter as a broken person, and they already know her for that, and they accept her for that. And I feel like, for her father, she wants to live up to a certain expectation; she wants to be something for him. And it’s growth, I think; her being comfortable in her own life, in her own self.
PO : What do you think of Apple doing with the baby?
VH: Doing with the baby?
PO : She still has no visible means of support, and now she has a baby.
VH: I think she stays at the shelter and just learns how to become a better mother. At the shelter, they offer so many things—bible study, education, a safe place to be---and that’s something she never had. It’s her coming into the world again, in a more normal and regulated manner. And learning how to love. That’s why she needs the support of the girls.
PO : But how would she make a living?
VH: A lot of the girls are studying to be nurses at that shelter, and I see her doing that.
PO : Thank you.
VH: Thank you.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas