Interview With Victoria Justice

Alexandra Dersch and other student journalists talk to Victoria Justice about her new film Fun Size

Photograph via Lori Aderfer for Victoria Justice

Hayley Perry: Hi everyone.  This is Hayley from Paramount and I have Victoria Justice on the line for the Fun Size College and High School Conference Call.

Victoria Justice: Hello everybody.

Hayley Perry: We're going to start with Cal State University Fullerton.

Daniel Zamilpa: So, I know that for the past few years, you've been working on TV and people absolutely love you on TV.  Do you think that this love for you will translate into movies?

Victoria Justice: I mean, I hope the love translates into movies.  I think that where I want to take my career path, I want to hopefully do more film and also, you know, the music career outside of Nickelodeon, but I mean I hope people go to see (inaudible) and I hope they love it.  Fingers crossed, I guess.

Hayley Perry: Next up will be Cerritos College.

Sarah Bautista: So, just – regarding the overall theme of your movie, I just wanted to know, what has been your favorite Halloween costume you've chosen in the past?

Victoria Justice: My Halloween costume I've chosen in the past.  I dressed up one year – I think I was about 13 – I dressed up as a ketchup bottle – that was one of my favorites just because it was something different.  Not everyone goes as the ketchup bottle – yes, so that was probably my favorite that I can think of.  What's funny is when I was little, I – my mom has dug up pictures of me – I think I was like five or six and I was dressed up in a Dorothy outfit with the little ruby slippers.  My character in Wren in Fun Size ends up going as Dorothy, so…

Sarah Bautista: Oh yes.

Victoria Justice: Life imitating art, I guess.

Hayley Perry: Next is Cal State University Channel Islands.

Grier King: My question is that you're in a movie with Johnny Knoxville and Chelsea Handler and when I watched the trailer, it seemed to be filled, you know, sexual jokes, how do you think the public will perceive a film like that coming from Nickelodeon?

Victoria Justice: You know, I don’t know.  I don’t have many sexual jokes in the trailer, I guess there are some in there.  I mean, honestly, it is a PG-13 film and how will the public perceive this coming from Nickelodeon?  I'm not exactly sure.  I mean I think they'll know what they’re getting themselves into from seeing the trailer and from knowing it's PG-13.

It's obviously geared towards teenagers and adults so, you know, when I first was attached to this movie, it actually was not a Nickelodeon, it was just – I mean, at the end of the day, I think, it's a Paramount film, you know and Nickelodeon just recently became attached to the project.  So, I'm – you know, I'm not sure but I hope people like the film.

It is – something I love about it is that it is – even though I started off on Nickelodeon, I think this movie is a perfect transition for me because it is slightly edgier and more mature and yes.

Sarah Bautista: Thank you.

Hayley Perry: Next up will be New York Film Academy.

Frank Pasquine: Can you tell me – I mean, many actors always think back to their first break and how they, you know, that's usually obviously how they break in to the business.  Can you remember your first break and what that was like or what do you think is your first break?

Victoria Justice: My first break.  Yes, well, my first job ever was an Ovaltine commercial and I think back then, I was eight years old, I was so excited.  It's my first audition and I ended up booking it and to me, that was like the biggest break anyone could ever have.  I was like, "Wow, I'm going to be in an Ovaltine commercial, this is so cool."

And it was really cool at that time and I still you know, have that commercial in VHS and look back at it fondly but I don’t think that's necessarily what broke me into the public eye and broke my career out but I would have to say that defining moment probably started when I was 12 years old.

I remember auditioning for Zoey 101 and for their new series regular, they needed a new roommate for Jamie Lynn Spears who played Zoey and so they were auditioning a bunch of girls for that role and I ended up getting it and I remember I was actually on set filming a Hallmark short film for Christmas time called "Silver Bells" and I had a really small part in it but yes, I remember being on set filming that movie and getting the call from my agent and him letting me know that you know, I was – I had just booked a new role in Zoey 101 and the creator, Dan Schneider called me personally to congratulate me and I remember just seeing you know, getting this news on set of the film and freaking out and it was such a surreal feeling and I was like on such a high, I think that's kind of what started my career.

I've been on Nickelodeon for quite some time now, pretty much all my teenage years and yes, obviously, Zoey 101 led to me getting my own show so I think that's kind of where it all started for me.

Hayley Perry: Next up will be Highland Park High School.

Abby Ferguson: I was just wondering if you specifically auditioned for the role in the film, Fun Size yourself or if you were like requested to play that role?

Victoria Justice: Yes, I definitely did audition.

I was sent the script and the moment I read the script, I was really interested in it.  I thought it was funny and a little edgier and of course, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage being attached to it, I thought it was really awesome because he created Gossip Girl. It was feature film directorial debut so I was very intrigued by that possibility and so I had a meeting with Josh and Stephanie to talk about the project but after that meeting, I did have to audition.

I auditioned twice and then, yes, I auditioned once or twice and then I had a screen test where I tested against some actresses but yes, I definitely did have to audition.  It was not just handed to me.  I had to work for that role.

Hayley Perry: Next up is Arizona State University.

Olivia Khiel: My question is I was watching the trailer and it seems like there were a bunch of really crazy scenes in the film.  You have a really memorable moment from the set like something crazy that happened?

Victoria Justice: Something crazy that happened.  Gosh, I don’t know, I think one of the most memorable nights would have to be the scene where the chicken falls on top of the (yellow Volvo).  That was a pretty crazy night and it was very interesting to see that all taking place.

It's – it's a pretty huge stunt and I had no idea how they were going to pull it off – how they were going to have this chicken like thrust against the car.  I didn’t even think it was going to be possible but they did and that was pretty crazy.

Hayley Perry: Next up will be Xavier Catholic High School.

Sophia: Is your character, Wren, anything like you?

Victoria Justice: Is my character, Wren, anything like me?  You know, I don’t know if we're necessarily similar.  I think Wren is – she's kind of dealt with a lot, especially in her home life, you know, she's a little bit of teen angst towards her mom.
They have kind of a broken relationship because my mom, played by Chelsea, is now dating this younger guy and because of that, my character has all this responsibility of taking care of my little brother Albert, so, I don’t know if we're really similar.

Sophia: OK, well, thank you.

Victoria Justice: I do think there are some similarities but I mean, nothing that really stands out to me, to be honest with you.

Hayley Perry: Next up will be Pinnacle High School.

Alexandra Dersch: It seems like you have really great cast from Fun Size, kind of a rambunctious bunch with Johnny Knoxville.  I was wondering [if anyone pulled] any pranks?

Victoria Justice: I think one would expect John Knoxville to be totally crazy on set and unpredictable but he was actually very professional and prepared and one of the nicest guys I've ever worked with but I think little Jackson Nicoll, who plays my younger brother, Albert, in the film.

Him and Johnny definitely hit it off.  I don’t think anyone should be fooled by Jackson's cute little face.  He's like a very feisty devilish young little man.  So, they got along together, I think.

Hayley Perry: Next up is Kennesaw State University.

Molly Silverman: So, it's been mentioned that you've been working with Johnny Knoxville and Chelsea Handler on this movie.  Did the two of them teach you anything about comedy?

Victoria Justice: Hmm.  You know, I'm not exactly sure.  I mean, I think they're both pretty fearless when it comes to comedy so I think, you know, I respect them for that but I'm not sure if they necessarily taught me anything about comedy.

Molly Silverman: All right, thank you.

Victoria Justice: Sorry, I wish I had a more interesting answer.

Hayley Perry: Next up will be Alpharetta High School.

Madison Cramer: While your character in the movie experiences a memorable end event for Halloween night, what was the most eventful Halloween you've ever had?

Victoria Justice: The most eventful Halloween I've ever had?  Oh my gosh, I don’t know.  The past few years I've been working on my Halloween like the last, last year – no, the year before last year, I was in the studio recording and last year, I just went to like some friend's Halloween party, that sort of thing.  I don’t always have like a crazy Halloween especially not one that compares to what Wren experiences on Fun Size.  So, they've been pretty much like normal and like, you know, I have a younger sister, so growing up, I would just go out with her, go Trick-or-Treating with my friends and my family and stuff so it hasn’t really been anything too crazy.

Hayley Perry: Next up is Peach Tree Ridge High School.

Inga Masic: When offered a movie role, are there any specific aspects that attract you to a certain role?

Victoria Justice: That attracts me to a certain role?  I mean, I think the first thing is a great script.  I think that's what really attracts me to a role and a great character that is someone that's, you know, unique and interesting and has meat to it and not just like a fluffy role, you know.  Something with depth.  So, I think that attracts me to a script and a role and then I think, obviously, the director and the other actors that are attached to the project also have a lot to do with it.

Hayley Perry: Next up is the University of Miami.

Nicky Diaz: Do you like working on movies or a TV show is better?

Victoria Justice: Do I like working on movies or TV show's better?

You know, it's – they're really different.  When you're on a TV show, you're definitely like locked into a schedule and it's hard to really – like when I was filming Victorious, I didn’t really have a lot of time to do other things because so much of my time was filming the shoe and there was also music on the show and so I did another whole act to it but I don’t know, I think they're both different but they're both a lot of fun.

Victorious was a sitcom and you know, it was multi-cameras so that moved in a fast pace and I like that about it and yes, it definitely keeps you on your toes and then filming Fun Size was really cool because we get to film on location and that was different for me and I don’t know, you kind of just like start a new life in this new place and yes, I'm not sure.   I honestly – I see myself doing both, I don’t think I could choose one but I mean, I think I want to take a little break from TV and pursue my film career more.

Hayley Perry: Next up is Torrey Pines High School.

Phil Phuong: You mentioned earlier that what you look for in a movie is a great script.  What makes a great script to you?

Victoria Justice: What makes a great script to me?  I mean, I think the writing has to be good, I like – a good script for me is smart and it's, you know, if it's a comedy, it has to be witty and interesting, I think also great character development is really important.  So you really connect with each character and you build a character and a great character arc as well is really important.  So that, I think those are some of the biggest parts to reading a great script.

Hayley Perry: Next up will be Dakota Ridge High School.

Angela Kaline: Good.  I was wondering if you ever feel like you've missed out on regular high school because you've been a celebrity for so long, like you've been filming movies or TV shows a lot.

Victoria Justice: Have I missed out on regular high school?

Angela Kaline: Yes.

Victoria Justice: I don’t know.  You know, I went to regular public school up until 10th grade which is when I was pulled –well, not pulled out, I decided to become home-schooled to focus more on Victorious because it's really hard to juggle going to regular school and getting to work from there and also being on set so many hours so I became home-schooled then.

But I really had a completely normal school life up until then and I think I experienced normal teenager high school experiences and went to, you know, high school parties and made friends outside of the industry so I think I've – you know, and I went to Homecoming and that sort of thing so I don’t think I've really missed out in much.

Hayley Perry: Next up is Lakewood High school.

Lily Pollack: What was it like working with Josh Schwartz?

Victoria Justice: It was great working with Josh Schwartz.  He is such a smart, cool, like nice guy.  I just think he works really well with the actors too and he's very – he like listens really well and he's collaborative and you know, he really aims to please and he's just this super talented great guy and I really, really enjoyed working with him.

Hayley Perry: Let's move on to (Lee Philroad) High school.

Brendan Marks: I know that you've enjoyed a lot of success up to this point in your career on television like Zoey 101 and Now Victorious but this is your first ever lead in a featured film and I was just wondering if there were any unexpected challenges that came with that lead role.

Victoria Justice: Unexpected challenges.  This is a very good question.  You know, I'm trying to think.  I'm drawing a blank at this moment. I don’t – there wasn’t really anything – any huge, crazy, crazy challenges that I came across when making Fun Size.

You know, I feel like I was in really good hands with working with Josh and I'm also, you know, was very privileged to work with a super talented cast especially the young adults that I spend most of my scenes with, I think they're so great, Jane Levy and Osric Chau.  So we all became like really comfortable together.  Unexpected challenges, I don’t know.  I mean I think – I don’t know – the biggest challenge with making Fun Size maybe was the fact that it pretty much all takes place at night.

So we had to – I had to kind of readjust my entire schedule and my call times would be like 6PM and then as soon as it got dark, we'll start shooting and then as soon as the sun came up, we would stop shooting and then I would go to sleep and we would do it all over again.  But I mean, I don’t know, as far as being an actress and taking on this role, I don’t know if there are any unexpected challenges.

Hayley Perry: Next up is UNC Charlotte.

Patrick Bogans: I was wondering when you were younger, did you have any college aspirations, did you want to attend college?

Victoria Justice: When I was younger, did I want to attend college.  Yes.  I mean I think, definitely, education is always really important and even when I started when I was young in this business, my parents tell me like if you don’t focus on school and if you don’t keep your grades up, then you’re not – we're not going to allow you to do this anymore.

So, education was always a huge priority for me and if I didn’t, you know, follow the path that I'm taking right now, I would definitely be enrolled in college but because my life is so crazy and I'm working all the time and I'm really focused on my career, it's pretty – it's unrealistic at this time in my life for me to enroll in college.

But you know, I think at some point, I would like to take certain classes that I'm interested in, maybe something like psychology or sociology or you know, that sort of thing but, you know, English but you know, I think I have to wait till things kind of slow down because I hardly get days off at this point, so.

Hayley Perry: Next up is Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

Unknown: Who is your biggest influence in your life?

Victoria Justice: Who's my biggest influence in my life?  Definitely my mom.  We spend a lot of time together and she's an incredible mentor.  I don’t think I would be at the place I am in my career right now if it wasn’t for her.

She helps – you know, ever since I was little with my career, she's helped to guide me to make the right choices, she's helped pick like the right team of people surrounding me.  She's just a really smart, genuine, great person that I'm very lucky to have in my life.

Hayley Perry: All right.  Next up is Syracuse University.

Eric Van Rheenen: I know you've been working on your debut album, have you had time to work on it during filming?

Victoria Justice: When I was – yes, I have been working on – this album has been in the works since I was 16 which is when I first signed my record deal with Tony and Columbia but because I've been so focused on Victorious and the music on that show and then, Fun Size, I haven’t had a lot of time to really dedicate specifically to the album but I've been writing songs all along the year.

So when I was filming Fun Size, I definitely did come up with different songs and started writing some but now that I'm back home, now that Victorious is over, I'm really going to focus on my album in the next couple of months and really get in the studio and write more and more, so, I'm really looking forward to that.

Hayley Perry: Cal State University Fullerton, you can ask a follow-up.

Daniel Zamilpa: So I think a lot of us are super jealous, because I think we would all love to have Chelsea Handler as our mom for at least one day, what was it like having her as your, quote unquote, "mom" day in and day out?  Even though I mean, you only had a few scenes with her in the movie.

Victoria Justice: Yes, we only had a few scenes so we only worked together like I want to say like three days out of the two and a half months or so (inaudible) in the movie but yes, I mean, the time that I did get to spend it with her was really cool.

I think you know, she – I think people were expecting me to say like, "Oh, yeah, Chelsea's crazy and it was like a party and there was lots of blah," but when we were working together, we were both like very focused and very professional and like you know, doing our best performance in the scene so I think we were both there as actresses to give our best job and yes, I mean, she's definitely like funny and cool and she would (improv) a few lines here and there that were totally just like hilarious and out there and yes, she was great to work with.

I think she does a really great job in the film.

Daniel Zamilpa: Awesome. Thank you.

Hayley Perry: Next up is Cal State University Channel Islands.

Grier King: Someone already asked you what's the most challenging thing about being in the lead role but what you say is the most challenging – I'm thinking about acting in general.

Victoria Justice: You know, I think it's just about – the most challenging part is really, really getting down your lines.

I feel like that – that's like the starting point like when you – when you – before I come on the scene, I always have to like 150 percent prepared with my lines so that way when I'm on set and when I'm with the other actors, like I don’t even want to have to think about what the lines are.  I can just be in the moment and be my character and be present and so it's really – that's kind of the hard part.

It's just like getting everything down and building your character and creating a back story and just knowing like in any situation like what your character would do, what your character would say, how they dress, how they – just really building that persona and becoming that person.  And I think that's the work – the hard work – that goes into in it before you start filming and then once you're on set, just to be really prepared with the material.

Grier King: Awesome.  Thank you so much.

Victoria Justice: Thank you.

Hayley Perry: Highland Park High School.

Abby Ferguson: Hello again.  You said earlier that you enjoyed being on site for the filming which was different from TV shows because you're in the studios for TV shows and such.  I was just wondering where was the film shot for the most part?

Victoria Justice: It was all shot in Cleveland, Ohio so we were there for like, I don’t even remember and I think it was two and a half months or three months or something.  But yes, it was great, we all had our like little apartments there and I honestly really enjoyed my time in Cleveland.

There were so many cute little restaurants and you know, little comedy clubs that we went to and downtown Cleveland is super cool and yes, we all had a really good time.  We've formed like a little community there and everyone in Cleveland was like super friendly to us and really nice about us filming in these different areas and it was great.  It was good times.

Hayley Perry: Our last question will go to Arizona State University.

Olivia Khiel: You were saying before that you didn’t see a whole lot of similarity between yourself and your character so I was wondering what influences or inspiration did you draw on to get into that character since she is different from you?

Victoria Justice: Yes.  I mean, I think because I don’t want to give too much away about the film but she loses someone in her life who's very important to her and I think that affects like a lot of her choices and decisions and kind of guides her emotionally a lot.

So I think I had to get into that mindset and I had to watch – it's hard to say this without really giving away what happens but her dad like passes away from a disease like so I had to kind of just study that and know what that would feel like and I sink into the character that way so yes, but I mean, I think at the end of the day, Wren is a very – she's a really relatable like normal teenage girl who – her Halloween just kind of gets totally turned upside down.

And it's also like a coming of age story in a lot of ways and I think we can all relate to growing up and learning about ourselves and finding ourselves so I think I related to her in that way as well.

Olivia Khiel: Excellent.  Thank you so much.

Victoria Justice: Thank you.

Hayley Perry: That concludes our call with Victoria Justice today.

- Alexandra Dersch, Editor-in-Chief

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