'Hairspray Live!' Star Maddie Baillio Talks Advice From Former Tracy Turnblads, 'Fangirling' Over Cast
By Jennifer Drysdale
Newcomer Maddie Baillio is stepping into some pretty big shoes as she takes on the role of Tracy Turnblad in NBC's Hairspray Live! next month, but luckily, she's got the support of other Tracys behind her.
During a conference call with reporters on Monday, Baillio couldn't help but gush about the warm welcome she's gotten from famous Tracys like Marissa Jaret Winokur and Ricki Lake -- which was evident in ET's own sit-down with the Hairspray stars.
"About a week after [my casting] was announced, I was in New York, and Marissa [who played the original Tracy on Broadway] reached out to me, and said that she was in New York, and invited me to come over so we could chat for a second, and that one second turned into four hours," Baillio revealed.
"She gave me a lot of advice," she continued. "One of the best pieces of advice she gave me is Harvey [Fierstein, who is reprising his Broadway role as Tracy's mother, Edna Turnblad] is always right, always listen to Harvey. You won't want it to be that way, but it is that way."
"I spoke with Ricki Lake, who was the original Tracy in the  film, and she told me to just say yes to every opportunity," Baillio shared. "[Both Winokur and Lake] gave me a lot of good advice, and they're going to make cameos in the show!"
Winokur and Lake may be Hairspray legends, but the NBC production has rounded up its own all-star cast, with big names such as Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande.
"I am still such a big fangirl of everyone," Baillio gushed. "Garrett [Clayton, who who will play Link Larkin] has to remind me everyday that these are just people. The first Broadway show I saw was Wicked. That was a big deal for me, and when I fell in love with musical theater. Kristin Chenoweth is playing my arch nemesis, so that's insane. Jennifer Hudson is singing to my face, and I'm getting really excited just thinking about it."
Baillio's not the only one impressed.
"I still am freaking out everyday. The first day I met Ariana Grande was in Capitol Records the first day. It still makes me quite nervous. They're such cool and down-to-earth people," added Ephraim Sykes, who will star opposite Ariana Grande's Penny Pingleton as Seaweed J. Stubbs. "I'm crapping myself!"
"I had no idea what to expect from Jennifer or Ari. Both have turned out to be the most adorable, down-to-hang [people]. They are like really good friends," added Dove Cameron, who will play Amber Von Tussle. "They're really like care-taking people. They don't walk around like world-famous vocal divas. It's been an education in all ways."