IN LOVE WITH THE JOB

For­mer Miss Teen USA Shel­ley Hen­nig has moved on dramatically since her meet­ing with fel­low beauty queen Jen­nifer Hawkins

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - NEALA JOHN­SON

Just over 10 years ago, Miss Teen USA Shel­ley Hen­nig, then a 17-yearold from Louisiana, was fly­ing to Thai­land to do a fash­ion show for the princess. With her was an­other 2004 ti­tle­holder, Miss Uni­verse, Australia’s Jen­nifer Hawkins.

“I re­mem­ber sit­ting with Jen­nifer on the plane ask­ing her, ‘What do you want out of all this? What do you want to do af­ter you give up your ti­tle?’ Hen­nig re­calls. “She said, ‘I want to host The Great Out­doors’. And I think that was one of the first things she did af­ter she gave up her crown.”

For Hen­nig, the fu­ture wasn’t so clear. She’d only en­tered Miss Teen Louisiana last-minute at the be­hest of her dance teacher, who told her it’d look great on her re­sume. Turns out her fu­ture lay in one of the suite of prizes she’d won along with the Miss USA ti­tle – a schol­ar­ship to a drama academy in New York.

“It was my first day of act­ing school; I was ter­ri­ble, so bad, had never been in such an un­com­fort­able place in my life,” Hen­nig says.

“I think that’s what got me in­trigued. I had never felt so chal­lenged. So I was determined to get good at it and dur­ing the process I ac­tu­ally fell in love with it. Boom.”

Hen­nig’s first gig out of the academy? Days Of Our Lives. Which, she says, was like “get­ting paid to go to act­ing school”.

“We did ev­ery­thing in one take, so you have one shot. And when you au­di­tion for a part, you re­ally only have one shot there as well. So soap opera makes you pre­pared. If you can do a soap opera, you can do any­thing, ba­si­cally.”

Then she moved to a teen drama, The Se­cret Cir­cle, and a teen com­edy, Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Fa­mous, nei­ther of which made it to a sec­ond sea­son. But the lat­ter gave her an in at MTV, which moved her into su­per­nat­u­ral hit Teen Wolf, where she’s now a se­ries regular.

And, like co-stars Tyler Posey and Dy­lan O’Brien, Teen Wolf is prov­ing a very good jump­ing off point into movies for Hen­nig.

“We were say­ing when we came back for sea­son five: it felt like we went away for the sum­mer, did our movies and came back to school,” Hen­nig says. “We’re all su­per-proud of each other.”

Her movie break­out is Un­friended – not just an­other teen hor­ror flick but a rather a lean, mean ground­break­ing cy­berthriller that plays out en­tirely on a high-schooler’s Mac­Book desk­top.

Blaire (Hen­nig) is flip­ping be­tween Face­book, YouTube and IM while Skype-chat­ting with her boyfriend and four other mates ... plus one avatar­less stranger.

It just so hap­pens to be a year since a class­mate, Laura, shot her­self in the school­yard af­ter be­ing the drunken sub­ject of a sham­ing video that went vi­ral.

And this on­line troll seems to know a lot about Laura, not to men­tion the rest of the gang’s dirty lit­tle se­crets.

Blaire tries to un­friend Laura on Face­book, but the thingy just won’t click ...

“I knew it was go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence, that’s why I signed on,” says Hen­nig. “It was su­per in­no­va­tive, which I could tell just by the way I au­di­tioned – I Skyped with an­other ac­tor, Moses Storm, who was in an­other room.

“The ac­tual film­ing was very sim­i­lar – we were all in the one house, each ac­tor had their own bed­room dressed to their char­ac­ter ... Un­for­tu­nately Ja­cob Wysocki had to be in the garage, dur­ing sum­mer, but that made for some great com­edy.”

And for­get cam­eras the size of a mo­tor­bike. The ac­tors were film­ing them­selves.

“We were all on lap­tops with Go­Pros,” says Hen­nig. “I don’t even know whose com­puter it was. It went through tears, so it has wa­ter dam­age. I dropped it a few times.”

In the wake of Un­friended, Hen­nig shot a road trip drama, Scout, with Aus­tralian An­i­mal King­dom ac­tor James Frecheville.

As for her old mate Hawkins, it’s been a while.

“I have not spo­ken to Jen­nifer in so long ... If you speak to her, tell her we need to chat. I would love to come and visit her in Australia; she only has to ask.”

Pic­ture: (Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures via AP)

Shel­ley Hen­nig in a scene from

Un­friended.

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