Photo of Nikki Blonsky Nikki Blonsky

A plus-sized triple threat who was working at an ice cream parlor when she was handpicked to make her professional debut in an all-star movie musical, Nikki Blonsky was born Nov. 9, 1988, in Great Neck, N.Y. She trained in music and drama while attending Great Neck South High School.

At 16, Blonsky auditioned for the role of barrier-breaking teen Tracy Turnblad -- a girl who leads the charge for integration in 1960s Baltimore -- in the Broadway production of "Hairspray." She didn't get the part, but a year later she answered an online casting call and landed the role as a virtual unknown in the film version of the musical.

Blonsky's spirited portrayal earned the newcomer a Golden Globe nomination and a Critics Choice Award. She has also appeared in the made-for-TV movie Queen Sized (2008), playing an overweight teen who campaigns to be her high school's homecoming queen.

Nikki Blonsky in The English Teacher

The English Teacher

2013 R

Devoted small-town English teacher Linda yearns for love. Enter Jason, a former student whose career as a Broadway playwright didn't pan out. When she persuades him to stage his play at the school before giving up, love -- and controversy -- arises.

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