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Hairspray Star Nikki Blonsky Explains Why Didn't Come Out Until Her 30s

Nikki Blonsky in Hairspray
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Nikki Blonsky could be considered one of the luckiest upcoming actresses out there. Imagine having a high school job scooping ice cream at Cold Stone and auditioning for a new movie musical with no professional acting experience, only to come out on top as the lead in 2007's Hairspray! But while we all remember her juicy kiss with co-star Zac Efron during the movie, this 33-year-old actually came out as a lesbian a couple of years ago. This licensed cosmetologist talks about why she didn’t come out until her 30s.

When it comes to discovering your sexuality, some people know at a very young age, while others go through plenty of life experiences before they realize it. Nikki Blonsky spoke on Allison Interviews about what it took for her to realize in her 30s that she was gay.

When people ask me, ‘How did you know it was the right time to come out?’ I say, ‘Everybody is different.’ I have a friend from middle school that came out at the age of 12. I came out at 30. It’s different for everybody. Everyone has different circumstances, whether it be religious, family, or fear of acceptance. I always knew I was different, but I thought that was the actor side of me. For me, it was a process of growing up and learning about myself. That is when I said, ‘Okay, wait a second. I’ve been living my life to make other people happy, and I was afraid to take that leap to see what it was like to date a girl. Then I did and guess what? It wasn’t the scariest thing in the world. I found out it was exactly where I needed to be, romantically. I needed to not be dating guys, because it was nothing but bad, bad, bad; bad story after bad story.

When you're raised to believe being straight is the default sexual orientation, putting yourself out there to date someone of the same sex can be scary. This New Yorker considered herself late in the game when it came to dating. While Nikki Blonsky's friends were out partying, she spent the majority of her time babysitting and prepping for her aspiring musical theater career. With such a busy schedule, dating was the last thing on this headstrong overachiever’s mind. Blonsky didn’t even have her first kiss until she was on the set of Hairspray. And no, it wasn’t Zac Efron, as the only thing she gave him was great friendship and taking care of his laundry. The actress' childhood proves that for some people, adulthood could be the time when you learn more about yourself than ever before.

Before Nikki Blonsky knew for sure she was gay, she was actually engaged to a man named Christopher Salute, and it led to some more insight into her sexuality. She explained:

I was engaged, and I never wanted to have sex with him, ever. Sorry if he hears this. I never really enjoyed it. I’m going to be 34, so I can talk about my sex life now, I guess, and I never really enjoyed my time spent in the bedroom with men. Once I had an encounter with a woman I thought, ‘Oh, okay. Now I feel more like myself. Now I’m enjoying it. I’m here, and I want to be here.’

The Hairspray actress is currently in a relationship with jewelry designer Hailey Jo Jensen, who identifies as non-binary. Blonsky met them during the actress' live one-on-one Cameo. Hailey purchased one where the two got to speak live face-to-face. What started as just a casual meeting with a celebrity turned into the two of them being quite smitten with each other. After Hailey connected with her on TikTok, everything else fell into place. On June 26th during Pride Month, Blonsky posted a photo of the two of them together on Instagram, where she couldn’t help but show off the person who made her “the happiest gal on the planet” as well as bring awareness of their handmade PRIDE collection.

Even though it’s been 15 years since Hairspray made us sing “You Can’t Stop the Beat,” the talented Blonsky still holds dear memories of her experience making the film. She loved having a scene with everyone including Jerry Stiller, who sadly passed away in May of 2020, and John Travolta. Blonsky also felt so proud to have fans still approach her today about being the Tracy Turnblad they grew up with and what her portrayal has meant to them. It was like she could be the Ricki Lake (the Tracy Turnblad in John Waters’ original Hairspray movie) for a whole new generation of fans. 

The roles Blonsky scored after Hairspray were by the handful, as she co-starred in ABC Family’s short-lived series Huge, had a guest-starring role in two episodes of Smash, appeared in the film adaptation of Geography Club and starred in the off-Broadway play Stuffed, among other things, But she does have some future projects coming in, like being in the upcoming film Bosco and co-starring in the upcoming podcast series titled A Voice in Violet.

Nikki Blonsky may have been late in the coming out game, but it is better late than never. I’m glad she’s now in a genuine relationship with someone who feels right for her.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.