Victoria Justice was a showbiz baby, beginning her career as the age of six. Besides co-starring in the series Zooey 101 and landing her own series appropriately titled Victorious, Justice has logged dozens of film and TV credits. Today at 19 she faces an interesting problem.
The reluctant “Teen Queen of Nickelodeon” was a pillar of the channel and one of its hardest working members, but she aged out. A quadruple talent threat – singer, dancer actor and songwriter – Justice says she can’t wait to start doing more adult work.
Justice scored her first feature lead outside Nick in Fun Size, a Halloween party comedy that begins her process of maturing on film believably. She stars as Wren who’s put in charge of her little brother on Halloween night when she really wants to be at a party with a guy she likes. Little brother wanders off and the games begin.
We spoke with Justice in Toronto about sour gummies, growing up and her dreams of a lasting and satisfying career. And we found she’s one savvy 19 year old.
M&C: Fun Size is a Halloween party movie. What kinds of party and Halloween movies do you like?
Justice: I’m a big John Hughes fan. Fun Size embodies a lot of what he went for in his filmmaking and writing, Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, Cameron Crowe, and Almost Famous. I don’t know if they are teen party movies, but coming of age and Halloween movies, I’m not sure.
I like scary movies but I’m afraid of the dark so I have to take them slow. They’re fun. That’s what I love about Fun Size. Most films at Halloween are gory, bloody, Saw type movies. This is something different any audience can enjoy.
M&C: What’s your fave Halloween candy?
Justice: Sour candy and gummy worms, the pink and blue worms. I throw the rest away. And I love Warheads and dark chocolate.
M&C: Halloween costume?
Justice: Once I went as a ketchup bottle.
M&C: There’s an army of talented girls that sing, act and dance. What is it that makes you stand out?
Justice: I don’t want to sound like full of myself!! I get compared to people like Selena and Miley Cyrus. When I was first starting out on my show Victorious people were saying “You’re the new Teen Queen”, “You’re the next Miley Cyrus” and I never saw myself that way. I wasn’t looking to be the new teen queen.
I’m very grateful because I was given my own show on Nickelodeon and I think to have your own show on Disney or Nickelodeon like my peers, it’s a huge deal. It brings in a huge fan base and audience and I was lucky I could act and sing and perform and songwriter so I think that’s what sets me apart.
I’m really passionate about songwriting, and have been writing since I was 16. I have a deal with Sony and I’m really into doing that by myself. I think I’m the first girl on Nickelodeon to have booked the lead in a feature film outside of Nick. And I think I earned my role in Fun Size of my own accord.
I auditioned multiple times and screen-tested against well respected actresses, people who weren’t on Nickelodeon and I think I earned it.
M&C: Is it a different kind of pressure making a movie versus a TV series?
Justice: It’s a huge deal for me, my first step outside Nickelodeon and my first lead so yeah, it’s a huge deal. It’s different from TV. On Victorious we have laugh tracks and have to hold for laughs and think of the cameras.
For the movie, it was obviously a lot of single camera work it was a more intimate and real experience. I love it! It’s not my first film. I’ve done independents and whatnot. But I’ve never been part of a project like Fun Size that is so huge where I’m seeing billboards all around town and on busses and lots of promotion going into it.
M&C: How do you balance the advantages of Nickelodeon and your desire to do more adult roles?
Justice: Nick is where I got my start and where I broke out. I’ll never get away from that. I’m so grateful to have spent so much time on Nick and I’ve been exposed to an amazing fan base and I hope they’ll grow with me. My show has wrapped and I’m 19 turning 20 in February. This is the last of my teenage years.
I want to progress and move on to more mature material. It’s an advantage and a disadvantage. There is a stigma against people who come from family shows, Nick and Disney, people don’t take them seriously and I have to work hard to prove myself and I have to be smart about the projects I take on.
Even though I am growing up I also don’t want to jump into something that will totally turn people off, I don’t think that would be a smart thing.
M&C: How choosy are you about your projects as you make that transition?
Justice: I was choosey about taking my first film role. I didn’t want to take just anything. Some scripts were fluffy and not cool and not a departure from what I had been doing, something with depth and would transition me into a slightly older material. That’s exactly what Fun Size is.
I work a lot because I have my hand in a lot of different things now. I’m lucky, I’m a creative person. I love acting but I also love music and song writing and I’m looking for songs for my album. I am going to be choosy. You have to, especially in my position, make smart choices. But I love working.
M&C: What actors would you like to work with?
Justice: There are so many people in this industry I’d love to work with. Filmwise I’d love to work with Meryl Streep, that would be any actor’s dream because she’s a legend and there is nothing she can’t do. If you know Meryl Streep is attached to it, you know it’s good material and you’re in good company.
I’d love to work with Robert De Niro a phenomenal actor as well and in music, so many. Chris Martin from Coldplay, Hall and Oates, I want to do Darryl’s House, in his house. I really want to do that. Look at my shirt! (Hall and Oates!) I respect singer songwriters like John Mayer, Pink, and Elton John.
M&C: Would you think of doing theatre?
Justice: Definitely I’d like to do theatre. When I first moved out to LA I auditioned to an arts middle school and I was one of the few six year olds accepted so I had singing and dancing and acting for an hour a day I was really immersed in the theatre world. That’s where I got my start. I’d love to do theatre.
I don’t think it’s something I’m looking into right now. But it’s something I’m open to that, it would be fun, go back to my roots.
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