IN LOVE WITH THE JOB
Former Miss Teen USA Shelley Hennig has moved on dramatically since her meeting with fellow beauty queen Jennifer Hawkins
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.”
Shelley Hennig in a scene from