By Michael Aaron Gallagher
When she isn’t starring as Tori Vega on the hit Nickelodeon show Victorious, actress Victoria Justice is rocking out on stage as a real-life pop star. She does it all – she sings, she dances and she even writes her own songs. In fact, there’s not much that the bubbly, 19-year-old from Hollywood, Fla. can’t conquer.
This summer, she’s bringing her concert tour to Central New York. But before she hits the stage at the New York State Fair, she chatted with CNY Woman magazine about her upcoming show and a whole lot more.
Michael Aaron Gallagher: You’re so confident in front of the camera. Is self-confidence something that comes naturally for you?
Victoria Justice: I guess it’s something that comes naturally. I’ve kind of been around adults my entire life. I started modeling and doing commercials in Florida, mainly in the South Beach area when I was about 8 years old. So I would spend a lot of time working with adult photographers and the hair and makeup artists and the clients from the ad agencies and I would also spend a lot of time with my mom because she would be driving me to the jobs and to the auditions and we’d be in long trips in the car together a lot…. I think I’ve grown up a lot faster than the average teenager. In a lot of ways, the job and the career that I have right now has forced me to become a lot more responsible than I think someone of my age normally would be. So I think that’s where the confidence comes from.
Michael Aaron Gallagher: Your popularity has skyrocketed recently, but I’m sure there must have been a time when you weren’t so popular. What advice do you have for girls who may be nervous about going back to school and starting a new grade?
Victoria Justice: You just have to be open to new experiences and open to meeting new people and don’t be afraid to make yourself available and put yourself out there. I think that’s always a vulnerable experience being the new kid in school or being the freshman, you’re still figuring out the waters and figuring out who you are and where you stand in the social circles of high school. Also, try and involve yourself in activities that you’re interested in and that you’re passionate about. I think through those after school programs, or if you take an elective that’s drama or art or dance, you can make friends through that and meet people who are interested in similar things that you are.
Michael Aaron Gallagher: Are you still involved with the Girl Up Campaign?
Victoria Justice: I’m definitely still involved in the Girl Up Campaign. I actually I wrote a song a couple of months ago with this amazing producer Toby Gad… I was telling him about Girl Up and how I went on a trip to Guatemala and how it was so eye-opening and how it really affected me. He’s a really sweet, sensitive guy at heart as well, and happened to be incredibly musically talented, so we were like, why not collaborate together and write a song that’s empowering for girls and that will spread the message of what Girl Up is trying to do and to help raise awareness and help raise funds for this program? So we did, we wrote a song together, called “Girl Up.” It’s a really good song. It’s something I’m really proud of and I feel like the lyrics are so spot on to the message that I’m trying to get across. I shot a music video for it – a super low-budget music video, because I’m kind of doing this on my own a little bit, so I had to call in some favors, but it’s something I’m really passionate about and I would love to possibly get to perform it on tour and to help raise money for Girl Up.
Michael Aaron Gallagher: What’s the biggest way that girls can make a positive difference in the world right now?
Victoria Justice: I think getting involved in charities and campaigns that mean something to you is always extremely fulfilling…. but also standing up to bullying. I know that’s a big issue in schools right now and even if you’re not personally being bullied yourself, let’s say you’re the most popular girl in school. I think as the most popular girl in school your job then, if you see someone who is being bullied or someone who is being treated unfairly by your peers to make a point to let people know that that’s not okay and that’s not funny, that’s not cute, there’s nothing cool about it and kind of take a stand in that way. I think something that’s always been important to me and a thing that’s stuck with me is to always be a leader and not a follower. I think that’s one of the coolest things that girls today can do is to be strong individuals and try and make a positive influence in the world and with the people around them.
Michael Aaron Gallagher: A big theme of your show Victorious is about friendship. What role have friends played in your life as an entertainer?
Victoria Justice: To be honest with you, I work so much I only had six days off last year so I rarely even have time to hang out with my own friends. And a lot of them have gone off to college which is kind of sad, but I’d say probably my two closest girlfriends their names are Danielle and Audrey. Audrey I met in middle school like in seventh grade and we became really close friends since then and Danielle I met in my freshman year of high school. And so we kind of clicked and those are the two girls that I’ve kept in contact with over the years and I think they’re important to me because they kind of knew before all this sudden fame, et cetera, and my whole busy schedule, so they kind of know where I came from and they love me for who I am not for what I do.
Michael Aaron Gallagher: What is one of your favorite memories when you were a tween?
Victoria Justice: I remember I went to a Coldplay concert. I think it was my second concert that I had ever really been to, with my friend Audrey that I was telling you about. I think we were both in eighth grade when we went. We were both huge Coldplay fans and her mom had gotten us tickets online and they were not the best seats… and we were looking for our seats in this huge auditorium and this guy comes up to us and he’s saying, “Oh, hi girls. We’re looking for dedicated Coldplay fans to sit in the front row. Are you guys up for that?” And we kind of looked at each other and were like, “Is this a joke?” We were just up in the nosebleed section. We couldn’t find where we were supposed to be sitting. I was of course super cautious. I was like, “Guys, this could be a scam. I don’t know if we should do this.” But we decided to give him our tickets and we ended up sitting front row at a Coldplay concert. So that was a pretty nice experience.
Michael Aaron Gallagher: Do you have a favorite song to perform on stage right now?
Victoria Justice: I really like performing anything. I just did a show in Orlando with my cast and that was a lot of fun. I love performing the songs from the show, especially the ones I wrote. “Make it in America,” which is the new single from Victorious 2.0, that song is really special to me. I wrote it from the heart. So I enjoy performing that and “Best Friend’s Brother” is another one that I wrote. It’s just really fun and lighthearted, so I love that one. “Freak the Freak Out” of course is really special to me because it’s the first song from Victorious that we released as a single. It was the first one to ever go gold, so we’ve sold over 500,000 copies of that now, which is cool. But on the tour this summer, I’m looking forward to doing some covers as well and trying some new tunes on the road.
Michael Aaron Gallagher: Do you have a special message for your fans who will be coming out to the New York State Fair to see your show?
Victoria Justice: To whoever comes, thank you so much for coming out and showing your support and I’m so looking forward to putting on a great show. I always put 150 percent into it and I’m going to give the audience in every song all that I have. I hope everyone enjoys themselves and I want everyone to get up out of their seats and sing along and just go crazy and have a good time.