By Samantha Simon
Updated Jan 28, 2016 @ 5:30 pm
Vanessa Hudgens
Credit: Tommy Garcia/FOX

It’s been 10 years since we’ve seen Vanessa Hudgens play a high-schooler on TV in High School Musical, but this Sunday, the actress is channeling her inner teen once again. She's taking the stage as Rizzo in Fox’s first-ever live musical, Grease: Live—and while Hudgens may be back in the halls of a high school, that's where the similarities between the musicals end.

“There is definitely much more at stake with Grease,” she tells InStyle. “High School Musical was a fun little movie that we did, which became bigger than any of us could have dreamed. But everyone already knows Grease, so we have a lot to live up to.”

The pressure of recreating a classic may seem like enough, but the fact that the production will be aired live—and filmed in front of a studio audience, no less—is the real challenge. That's why Hudgens's biggest concern is simply “making sure everything goes right,” she says. “There are so many moving elements involved with a musical, especially this one.”

One of those elements is the costumes. Designed by William Ivey Long, who's best known for his work on Broadway, the looks are a modern update on Grease's classic '50s style. Hudgens’s favorite thing about Rizzo’s wardrobe is “the silhouettes,” she says. “I can’t handle them—pencil skirt, cinched-waist and popped collars. It’s so badass and sexy.” It’s also classically Rizzo, the tough-girl leader of the Pink Ladies.

“I relate to Rizzo in a few ways,” says Hudgens. “She doesn’t take crap from anyone, and neither do I. She speaks her mind like I do. And she's tough like I am.” But there are some differences between the two—and Hudgens is totally fine with that. “Rizzo is a bit cooler, and she’s more mean than I am,” she says, adding that she's not trying to be more like her character anytime soon. “I think I already have the Rizzo traits that I would want!”

Of course, Hudgens had a vastly different teen experience from her Grease: Live character. “I didn't go to high school, because I spent those years on set,” she says. Looking back, that may have been a blessing in disguise. “I guess missing out on all the drama was the best part.” But there is one teenage ritual that Hudgens missed out on since she didn't attend a traditional high school. “I never went to a real prom,” she says. “The only one I’d [been to was] in High School Musical, and now Grease.” And so her favorite prom memory, "having amazing choreography to dance to," is pretty unique.

Vanessa Hudgens
Credit: ©Disney Channel/Courtesy Everett Collection

Even though her high school experience was far from average, Hudgens would still give her teenage self some easily-relatable words of advice. “Enjoy every moment,” she says. “Don't let anything pass you by, and don't take things personally.”