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Snow focuses on work, not image
By Steve Persall, Times Film Critic
Published July 19, 2007
Cast member Brittany Snow arrives to the New York premiere of the film "Hairspray."
Brittany Snow, on the left, was 12 years old and a 7th grader at Ben Hill Elementary School when this photo was taken on set of the TV soap Guiding Light.
Brittany Snow doesn't get the kind of attention that the other young celebrities with her first name draw.
The 21-year-old Tampa native doesn't party with any of Hollywood's various Jessicas or skip work due to "exhaustion." The closest Snow comes to tabloids is when she's standing in a supermarket checkout line.
But watch her in Hairspray, playing the conniving coquette Amber von Tussle, who can't believe anyone would prefer the chubby heroine to her own sleek blondness. Hear that voice, see those heels kick and feel free to hiss her disdain of anyone she isn't.
You get the feeling that Snow is on the way to stardom, for all the right reasons.
"Some people are more interested in their names than their work," Snow said from New York on Monday, hours before Hairspray's official premiere. "But I would so much rather be known for my work.
"I try not to get too involved with the celebrity aspect, or get caught up in the Hollywood aspect because it's too confusing for me and it doesn't interest me that much."
Besides, staying out all night in Los Angeles nightclubs simply isn't her thing.
"It's just not who I am," she said. "I definitely go out and have a good time when I'm in L.A. I do what I do then I show up on the set on time and do whatever needs to be done. It has a lot to do with how I was raised."
Snow's parents still guide her decisions. Mother Cinda is nearby in Los Angeles and father John holds down the Tampa fort. Snow doesn't get back home as often as she'd like: "Maybe three or four times a year, so I miss my dad" and friends from Gaither High School and regional stage performances.
Those beginnings led to modeling jobs, 15 commercials, a role on the Guiding Light soap opera and eventually her breakout role on NBC's set-in-the-'60s drama American Dreams. Now she is wearing those New Frontier fashions and doing the Mashed Potato again in Hairspray.
"I'm sure Hairspray producers saw me in 1960s makeup and things," Snow said. "But Hairspray is a lot different from American Dreams."
Certainly the moods are different. Snow likes the fact that both capture an era of important social change, especially with regard to civil rights.
"There aren't many chances as a teen actress to be a part of two projects that make such strong messages about a huge part of history," she said.
Snow's visibility will get a big boost from Hairspray. After all, a big role in a movie version of a Broadway smash with John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer can't possibly hurt.
"It's a little strange," she said. "I'm working with these stars who have been my favorites growing up and who are icons. Just being in the same room with them when we're doing interviews is very surreal.
"As far as people taking notice of me, it really hasn't changed yet. Maybe something will change when the movie comes out. I'm just going to handle it day-by-day with whatever happens."
Snow is keeping busy while the world catches on. Four of her movies are slated for 2008 release, including Black Water Transit, currently filming with director Tony Kaye (American History X) in New Orleans. Three more are in the can: a dark comedy with Matthew Broderick titled Finding Amanda, the low-budget indie On the Doll and Prom Night, a horror movie which Snow assured isn't a remake of the 1980 slasher flick.
Black Water Transit, Finding Amanda and On the Doll all share a common thread suggesting that her girl next door days are numbered. In each, she portrays a prostitute, exactly what nobody expects from wholesome-looking Brittany Snow.
"That's always the most rewarding type of part, the ones that people don't normally see you in but you find it within yourself," she said. "I definitely don't look like a prostitute. I know that for a fact. But I like playing girls who are very complex with addictions and inner demons.
"I have to believe that if I keep doing things I'm passionate about and do the best I can, people will know me for who I am and not just another Brittany."