We interviewed actress Victoria Justice when she was at the Nickelodeon offices in Manhattan recently.
Did you start to sing before or after you started acting?
I started acting first and then . . . I kind of loved music all my life. Ever since I was little, I was always singing in the shower and stuff. And my parents, when I first came out to L.A., I went to Performing Arts Middle School, and I had singing and acting and dancing every day, and so that’s where I kind of learned how to use my voice properly, and I really got into singing, and I did a couple of plays in middle school.
Do you make good friends on the set of the show?
I do. Do you guys know Beck? Well, Avan Jogia plays Beck on “Victorious”; we did a movie together awhile ago called “Spectacular.” He’s one of my best friends in real life. He’s just like such a cool guy. We totally get each other, and we just laugh our butts off every time we hang out, because he’s just so funny, and he’s just really cool. And then there’s Leon , who plays Andre; he’s the nicest kid in the whole world. He’s so cool and funny, and I love him, too. And Daniella Monet, who plays my sister , she’s great.
What do you do in your free time usually?
I like to hang out with my friends — just like normal things. I hang out with my friends. I like going to the movies, I like going on bike rides, I like walking my dogs and getting sushi. I like going to this improv club by my house.
Is it weird working with a guy who has a puppet that talks?
It’s very weird. I feel bad for him, because it’s really hard to have something on your hand, basically like another character on your hand, and then you have to be this normal person. But he does a really good job with it. I feel bad because his hand really hurts because he always has to move the mouth and stuff.
Is it easy or hard to learn your lines, and how do you do it?
Depends. If I have a really big line, it can be hard. It just takes practice. But that’s with anything. If you want to be good at something, you just have to practice it over and over again to be your best. When I have a really long line, I just have to say it many more times than I would a normal line.
Did you have a favorite TV show when you were growing up, and if so, what was it?
I liked a show called “Arthur” a lot. And I liked “Full House” and “Lizzy McGuire.” I was a huge “Lizzy McGuire” fan . . . I would watch all the Nickelodeon shows: “SpongeBob,” “Drake and Josh,” “That’s So Raven.”
Do you have an idol or somebody you looked up to when you were a kid?
I don’t think I had a specific person that I wanted to be like. I did want to be all the Spice Girls, but that didn’t turn out for me. No, I think I was just affected and inspired by all the other people I would see on Nickelodeon and all those other channels. I would see kids that were my age and doing stuff that I would want to do and all that, and getting to be goofy and funny and just being themselves.
What is your favorite episode?
I really like the first episode because it really sets up my character and makes it shine, and a really fun song; I thought the performance was really great. I like that episode a lot, and then my second favorite would have to be the “trailer” where we were all hot and sweaty, and we can’t get out . . . trapped in an RV. I thought that was the funniest.
If you were to pick your next acting job, what would it be — a movie or TV?
Well, on the TV show right now, we’re doing the second season. Those still have to finish. I definitely want to do movies. I think filming movies is so much fun, and I just love reading different scripts, and looking for a character that’s like really cool and with really good writing. But they’re both really cool. It’s just different. When you’re filming a TV show, it lasts for a really, really long time. It lasts for usually like six months sometimes, and you’ll be working every single day. So you’re with the same people every single day. Sometimes, you have to work 12, 13 hours, which can be a really long time, but it’s always fun. It’s just nice to kind of break away sometimes and do something different.
Do the cast members have talents in real life that they do in the show?
Yeah, totally. Leon, who plays Andre, he really does — he’s like a musical genius. He plays piano all the time. He’s always writing songs, always recording songs, he plays guitar, he’s really talented with singing and songwriting and stuff. Avan plays like the actor. That’s kind of what he’s like in real life — he wants to be taken very serious with his acting, likes doing drama. That’s very true to him. Some of the other girls sing, too. I think we’re all very musical and into the arts, which is very similar to the characters we play because we’re going to a performing arts high school. Yeah. But Matt Bennett, who plays Robbie, he’s not actually a ventriloquist in real life.
What is the best acting role you’ve ever gotten?
“Victorious” has been one of my favorites because I just love the character. I think it’s such a cool story line, and the fact that I get to do performances and sing songs. And I love the clothes my character gets to wear. When I was on “Zoey 101,” that was a lot of fun, and everyone was really cool, but it’s different when it’s kind of like your time to make it shine.
How many people are in your family, and is anyone an actor or actress?
I have my mom, my sister, my dad, and I have two puppies, and they’re part of my family, too. And their names are Sammy and Sophie. They’re Chonzers. They’re half bichon and half Schnauzer. So they’re like little white dogs. Sammy is real little. Sammy is the boy, and Sophie’s the girl, and she’s like a lot bigger than he is. They’re like brother and sister. So she looks like the mom. It’s really weird. They’re really cute. So I love them. I miss them right now because I’ve been away from them a little bit.
How do you prepare for an audition?
Usually what happens is they’ll send you sides, which is basically they’ll take part of the script, and they’ll pick a scene from it, which is usually 5 pages, and what I’ll do is first I highlight all my characters lines so if I’m in the audition and I’ll forget something — which hopefully doesn’t happen — I’ll be able to look down and “OK, that’s where I am,” and I’ll keep going. So I do that, and you just have to memorize lines and work on them, and the best way to do that is to read them out loud. My friend will help me out a lot. We do that together sometimes, like if I have a scene that I have to do, he’ll come over and read lines together, and he’ll make sure I have it totally memorized because I kind of learned this over the years. . . that when you go into an audition, you should definitely be as prepared as you can because if you’re not prepared, there’s so many other people who really want it and that are going to be so on top of their game. So you just always have to, like anything, if you really want it, just give your best. That’s important. Before you go into the audition room, you just have to stay focused, get into character. It’s hard because you can get a little nervous; if it’s a big role that you really want, you can get a little freaked out before you walk in the room; but usually before I start reading the lines with someone, it kind of goes away.
Where do you originally come from, and did you ever do acting in your home city?
I come from a place called Planet Earth. Just kidding. I come from Hollywood, Fla.; that’s where I was born and, yeah, I grew up there with my sister and my parents, and we lived near the beach, and we would go to the beach on weekends and stuff and do that whole thing. And we had a lake house with manatees in it. It was really cool growing up in Hollywood, Fla. It was always sunny out, but it gets really humid, and there can be lots of mosquitoes, and that’s the only downside about living in Florida. And then I moved out to L.A. when I was 11 years old with my mom, my sister, and then my stepdad moved out here. So we all live out there. I never did T.V. or film there, but I did, I think, over 30 commercials there. That was really fun. I did commercials for peanut butter toast, Minute Maid lemonade and Ovaltine.
What is your favorite part about acting?
I think my favorite part would have to be just getting to play different characters. It is really fun and like being in the moment and playing off other people and getting to improv sometimes, like if someone forgets a line, then I’ll just jump in and throw something else in there just to keep the scene going. Or if I mess up a line, or if a tripped during a scene, you would just have to remember that you always have to keep going because that could have turned into a good take that they could actually use on TV. There’s been tons of times like someone would trip, something will go wrong, and it’s not perfect, and that’s the take that they’ll want to use because it makes it more real, and it makes it funnier. They’ll use all those things. I like that about it, and I love getting to travel. I like traveling to different places; it’s so much fun. It’s just new experiences, and it makes you grow up a lot; you learn a lot of different things, meet a lot of cool, new friends and that kind of stuff, and that’s really fun. I think something else is really cool about it: When you work really hard on something, like working on the show or going to film a movie, you work hard for months and months, and then when it’s all over and they edit it and put it together and getting to see the final product after you’re done is pretty cool because you never know how it’s actually going to turn out because you’re just doing the scenes and you never really know what it’s going to look like. But it’s really cool to see all of it together and see at the beginning, to see your name come across the screen, and it’s just kind of a like a proud moment when . . . all of the hard work finally paid off.