We met actress Elizabeth Gillies at the Nickelodeon offices in Manhattan recently. She stars as Jade West on “Victorious.”
What would you like to change about Jade if you can?
I don’t know. I like Jade the way she is. She’s crazy. Maybe if she sang a little more. That would be fun for Liz, too. No, I don’t know. I love Jade. She’s crazy and kooky. There’s not much I would change about her. She’s cool.
Is it difficult to play a negative character when you are nice in real life?
It’s always kind of fun to be the bad girl stirring up trouble. It’s kind of fun to do that. I have a good time with it and yeah, I think people may think in real life, if they’re scared to come up to me, but ironically people do come up to me and kids come up to me and they’re mad that I’m not mean. They want me to be mean and have colors in my hair and have piercings and I don’t.
What is your favorite thing about the cast in the show?
I love getting to go to work with such amazing people. The cast are like a family. The shows much fun to work on. I’m lucky that I get to come to a place that’s so much fun to work on and everyone in the cast is so funny and so crazy and musical. We all have a great time.
Do you like to be recognized in public?
Yeah, it’s totally cool. If somebody recognizes me in public, then feel free to come and say hi. I love when people come up to me, like, on the street or malls like that. I think it’s cool. It’s always nice to meet fans.
Do you like people putting makeup on you or do you want to put it on yourself?
That’s a really good question. If I know the person and I trust the person, I like them putting makeup on me. But overall, I put makeup on myself. I love makeup, I love having fun. And I know what I like. So it’s easier for me to kind of do my own makeup.
Did you ever mess up on the show?
All the time. Luckily, we do a lot of takes so we get to do it right. Yeah, there’s times when I forget my line, I’ll slip, fall or say the wrong thing. It’s always funny.
Have you ever Googled your name?
I Google my name every day. I’m not going to lie about it and say I don’t Google myself. I do sometimes. Just to see what’s out there. I know a lot of people you ask might say no, no I would never. I’m curious, so I want to see what there is.
What do you do for your free time?
Did you want to be on the Nickelodeon show when you were little?
I did. I always wanted to be on. When I was younger, I watched shows like “All That” and “The Amanda Show” with Amanda Bynes. It was my dream. Those were my favorite shows of all time.
Do you like to perform with your cast members?
I do. We just performed as a cast for the first time live. We sang “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5. We sang it in L.A. for the launch of our new CD. It was a lot of fun to be up there singing. We’re such good friends. We were just laughing and it was great. It was wonderful.
Would you rather sing or act?
I can’t choose. Singing and acting, they’re two — I can’t choose between them. I love them both so much. Hopefully my dream is to get to do both. Sing and act at the same time. Like on Broadway or in a movie. I love doing stuff like that. Putting it all to use at once.
Were you in acting school?
Yes. I did a lot of training before I got an agent and did it professionally. I did acting classes and singing classes and I did all that.
Do you like playing a villain?
I do like playing a villain. I love that word villain. It’s always fun to be the bad girl, stirring up trouble, making things happen. It’s always a lot of fun. Because Jade is not the typical mean girl with the blond hair, the cheerleader, like, pushing books out of people’s hands walking down the hall. She’s darker, she’s a little gaunt and fun to play someone who’s twisted and weird and who cries and then is mean. She’s got a lot of sides to her.
What is your favorite book?
I always loved “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein or “Falling Up.” I always loved those books.
Do you stay in touch with all your friends?
I do. I try to. I’m pretty good about it, but I’m not great about it. Luckily I have friends who are really great about texting all the time, keeping in touch, because I’m pretty much like a very to-myself person. When I hang out with them, it’s so much fun, and it’s great hanging out with them, and I’m so close to this cast that we’re all best friends. I’m just saying that we’re all so close. We’re always hanging out, texting.
Do you think you’ll have your own CD?
I hope so soon. Yeah, that’ll be great. I am writing music a little bit. I’m not being very aggressive with it, so whenever it happens, it happens. But yeah, I am writing music and I’m developing kind of a sound, so hopefully I will have an album at some point. I don’t know when.
How do you balance your schoolwork and acting?
It’s hard. It’s very tricky. I had to leave high school freshman year, but I didn’t want to leave school in general because I want to have an education. It’s important. I’m doing online school. So they tutor us, like, 5 hours a day on set. So we definitely get our education in there. Yeah, I’m just working on that now. Hopefully I will go to college soon. I definitely want to go to college. I think that’s really, really important. Because no matter what’s going on, it’s always great to have an education behind you. Because it’s really smart to keep learning, keep educating yourselves. I make sure I keep doing that. Just finding that balance between your dream and following your dream and going for it and also keeping grounded and staying with your schoolwork, and my parents help me with that, too.
Who is your role model in general?
I have a lot of role models. Everyone in my family is my role model. I love my family, my mom, dad. But I also love Meryl Streep. I love her. She’s a great role model for me. I don’t know anyone who inspires me. I have a lot of role models.
How old were you when you started acting and who gave you your first job?
I did a lot of community theater when I was really, really young. But my first time, my first professional job was when I was 12 and I think it was a commercial, actually it was a voice-over for bubblegum. I think it’s my first job. Bubblicious!
What was your favorite toy when you were a child?
Barbie. I have so many Barbies, and I still do. I haven’t thrown out any of them. I’m obsessed with Barbies. And I think they’ve been making dolls of us, which I think is the coolest thing in the whole world. I think, I’m not sure. I think I read that somewhere online. But that would be great, and I’m obsessed with Barbies. I had every Barbie. My friends would come over — we’d make the whole basement different rooms and places for each Barbie, and we’d make all these houses. Definitely Barbies.
What is your favorite part in the “Freak to Freak Out” episode?
Singing was really cool. I loved getting to sing. That was a lot of fun. It was my first time singing on the show, like, alone, kind of, or with Ariana . We duet together. It was great to sing with her again because we did a show together where we sang together before. It kind of brought back those fond memories.