Many of you know this phrase, and I’m gonna bet your parents do too (I dare you–ask them where it’s from!). So get ready for Fame, the reinvention of the 1980 original Oscar-winning movie. The old one was more gritty and rated R, but this one is rated PG and it’s totally hot! The cast and creators themselves seem to be living their own “Fame” stories. It comes out in theaters today and we’ve got the inside scoop.
First a bit about the movie. It follows a group of talented singers, actors, and musicians over four years at the New York City High School of the Performing Arts (based on the real life NYC school: Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Performing Arts!) It’s a diverse powerhouse where students from all walks of life get a chance to live out their dreams. But even with hard work, discipline and talent, not everyone will make it. Plus they’ve got to deal with all the normal high school stuff like homework, insecurity and romance.
We sat down with three of the stars of Fame: Naturi Naughton who plays Denise, a classical pianist who can rock the microphone. Collins Pennie who plays Malik, an actor/rapper whose family has had too much drama and not enough money. And Cody Longo who plays Andy, an actor whose fame goes to his head.
Q for Naturi: What did you like most about your character, Denise?
Naturi: I really liked her innocence. I remember when I was that age — you don’t really know who you are. I felt like I could use this character to help other young people figure out what they want to do and how to stand up for what they love, even if it’s your parents that you have to stand up to. And I think that it’s really hard to do that when you’re sixteen or seventeen years old and you don’t really know what direction you want to take your career.
Q: Any obstacles that you met when you were in your teens that might help other kids?
Naturi: Yeah, I went through a few obstacles. I was a recording artist at fifteen.
[RATHA: Naturi was in the girl group 3LW in the early 2000's. They sang a song I totally loved "No More (Baby I'm a Do Right") and toured with Destiny's Child and Jessica Simpson!]
So one of the things I think could help other teens was being told that I wasn’t good enough or marketable, or I didn’t have the right look. And in my business it’s all about packaging and a product and how you look and how you dress. It’s very materialistic and as young people we all get caught up in that. But at the end of the day I learned that I can’t rely on people to tell me who I am. People might say, “You’re not smart enough to get into the AP classes. . . or to be a doctor.” Whatever it is that someone is telling you you can’t do, don’t let that stop you and don’t let them dictate your ability. You have to be strong enough to say, “I’m going to work hard, and if I put my mind to it and believe in myself, then I can achieve anything and no one can stop that.”
[RATHA: You go girl! Totally true!]
So all the young people that are going through that now, it’s only temporary, trust me. You will get through it and you will prove all those haters, for lack of a better word, you’ll prove them wrong.
Q: Does your name have a special meaning?
Naturi: Yes it does. Naturi — it means “Nature’s Girl, Natural Woman.” My parents gave that to me.
Next, we spoke with Collins Pennie, who plays Malik. He has an equally inspiring story. He spent much of his childhood in foster care, where he discovered his passion for performing.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about the challenges that you faced living in foster care?
Collins: I would just say that coming out of being in foster care, there’s a lot of things that you go through. You want to be at home with your family, so it’s a struggle, because you’re in another person’s home. It’s not your own, but I worked hard and I had a dream and that kept me alive. It allowed me to focus on something else.
Q: And then at fifteen you went out on your own. How did you make money? How did you live?
Collins: By that point I had some friends that I was staying with from my dance school, or just some friends in general. It was rough, but I had a dream and I followed it and I’m here.
Q: Talking about working hard, describe Malik. What is he like?
Q: Do you like to read?
Video and images: Saeed Adyani© 2009 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and Lakeshore Entertainment Group LLC.