We met actress Victoria Justice, who stars as Tori Vega on the Nickelodeon TV show "Victorious," before she had an autograph signing at the Westfield Sunrise mall in Massapequa recently. How is your character on "Victorious" similar to you?
Tori is similar to me in real life because we both really love performing arts. I went to a performing arts middle school when I first moved out to Los Angeles. So I had singing, dancing and acting classes and went to school with all these artsy kids, and teachers in real life, too. So it's crazy that I'm kind of now doing that on the show as well. And we're both half Latino and Puerto Rican. Tori has an older sister, but I have a younger sister named Madison, who's 15.
Was the show "Victorious" originally meant for you?
Yeah, I'm pretty sure. I was on a show called "Zoey 101," with Jamie Lynn Spears, I played her roommate Lola. She was kind of, like, a little dramatic, artsy, creative, which was really fun to play. Then, when I was, like, 15 years old, "Victorious" just kind of fell into place. Dan Schneider [the show's creator] wanted to do a show with me and it just kind of happened. He didn't realize I could sing until later on, so that's why he incorporated music into the show because he realized that I loved music.
Do you write your own songs, and what is your favorite song to sing?
I wrote one song in the "Victorious" soundtrack. It's called "Best Friend's Brother." What's my favorite song that I sing? On the soundtrack, my favorite song to sing would have to be "Best Friend's Brother." It is a lot of fun to perform because I think you can get the crowd involved, like, when the BFB part comes.
Do you have a same relationship with your friends in real life as on the show?
Well, the people that I mainly hang out with in my real life are my mom, we spend a lot of time together, and my vocal coach named Vincent. I'm really close with them, and I have a lot of older friends because I feel I learn a lot from them. But I think you definitely can run into similar situations where, although on TV, all my friends on the TV show are very much characters. I don't think I'd ever meet anyone in real life that's like them necessarily.
What was your favorite episode?
They've all been really, really fun, but I would have to say "Locked Up," because we got to film this sequence when we were all in prison and there were 30 backup dancers and we were all in these orange prison outfits. And I got to cover the Jackson Five's song "I Want You Back." So that was an honor to be able to sing that. Just a really good time. It was a lot of fun.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not shooting a scene?
I'll be down in the Green Room, which is kind of where everyone hangs out, and there's food and there's, like, an Xbox, a big flat-screen TV. Either one of those things.
Do you have any other talents besides singing?
No! Absolutely not. What else do I like to do? Obviously I act on the show as well. Dancing is a hobby. I wouldn't say I'm, like, a phenomenal dancer, but I have rhythm and I like doing it. I like impersonating people sometimes. I'm fairly observant, so I can gather a lot from meeting someone in, like, 10 minutes, and I'll be able to mimic them after that. So watch out!
What's the best thing about being famous and what's the worst thing?
The best thing about being famous, I don't know. I don't really think about it as being famous, but it's hard for me to take myself out of it. I'm Victoria Justice -- to me I'm just like a normal girl. I grew up in Hollywood, Fla., with my family. I'm Victoria Justice, but to other people, I'm, like, Victoria Justice who's on TV and does all these cool things. To me, I kind of view it as my normal life, and it's my job and it's what I love to do. So I never really think of it outside of that, but I guess the coolest part is being able to, obviously, do what I love and be able to travel, even though sometimes I'm away from home a lot and I just want to hang out at home and making new friends, and recently I just did my first concert and I performed in front of 8,000 people. I felt, like, so alive, and it was so incredible. To do more of that would be cool. And the worst thing would have to be, I don't know, sometimes when I'm working a lot I'll have really, really early calls times and I didn't get enough sleep, and that could be hard. I don't really have a lot of complaints, honestly.