TORONTO - Following in the footsteps of musical movie superstars Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens no doubt means a huge amount of pressure, not to mention extreme giddiness.
Throw in a lack of vocal training and the personality of an over-achiever and it can make for some very restless nights, says Canadian actress Nina Dobrev, star of the made-for-TV musical film "The American Mall," debuting Monday on MuchMusic.
"Going on set for the first time, I didn't sleep the whole night before because it's a big deal for me," the dainty 19-year-old with the long brunette locks said in a recent interview in Toronto, where she shares a house with several roommates.
"It's my first American thing, it was the lead, there was a lot of pressure but good pressure. It was something I was very excited about. I couldn't sleep because I was so excited to start my first day at work."
"The American Mall," shot in January in Salt Lake City, Utah, stars Dobrev as Ally, a teenage singer-songwriter who works at her mother's music store at a mall.
As Ally's romance with a handsome mall janitor/musician (Rob Mayes) heats up, so does her feud with an evil rich girl who -- as the daughter of the mall owner -- threatens to shut down the music store.
The film has the same executive producers, choreographer and songwriter as the wildly popular musical movie "High School Musical" that made Efron, Hudgens and others into overnight teen sensations.
"I'm just happy to be part of this musical boom," said Dobrev, who is already gaining a huge fan base south of the border thanks to her role as teenage mother Mia on the CTV teen drama "Degrassi: The Next Generation."
She also had a role in the Oscar-nominated film "Away From Her" as well as "Fugitive Pieces."
A recent screening of "The American Mall" in Chicago drew in thousands of fans and Dobrev says they were singing and dancing in the aisles. "Towards the end of the movie there was actually 2,000 kids standing with their cellphones in the air waving them as though it was a concert," she said.
Sears teamed up with MTV to make "The American Mall" as part of a marketing campaign, which means viewers will see the retail giant's logo at several points in the film.
Many scenes were shot in and around a Sears store, characters wear Sears clothes that consumers can purchase in real life, and some extras carry Sears bags in the background of shots. Sears will also sell the DVD and soundtrack in its stores, and has cast Dobrev and Hudgens in its commercials.
Dobrev said she didn't mind doing a film that had a corporate influence because the company is "relatable."
"It's no Gucci or something," said Dobrev, who'd never had vocal training before the film and needed a singer to come into the studio and dub over the notes that she couldn't hit.
"It's one of those stores that the fashions are affordable and it's for the everyday consumer, so it's not a negative message."