The 27-year-old actress spoke to E! News about her father dying the night before Grease: Live!, where she performed the role of Rizzo to rave reviews.
“It felt like it was some mean joke,” Vanessa said. “You think you’re going to make it through, you’re there with them every step of the way, holding their hand, wanting it to be okay.”
“It was shocking. I had never dealt with cancer personally and to hear that word, it was just like a punch in the stomach,” Vanessa continued. “You always think that you’re going to make it through and you’re going to overcome it, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Cancer is very aggressive and it doesn’t take pity on anyone or anything.”
“Every day I came to work, [my Grease cast mates] all hugged me, checked in on me, made sure I was doing okay. My dad passed away the night before my show, and it was shocking. I knew that it was coming, but nothing can prepare you for losing a parent.”
“When someone you love has cancer, it’s a very hard thing to deal with for them and for you, but the thing that honestly got me through it was my community that I was surrounded by,” Vanessa continued. “I dedicated my performance to my dad because I knew he was up there in heaven looking down on me as proud as can be.”