Victoria Justice Without Makeup

When you’re 12 years old (and even at 15), your life can feel pretty glamorous. In addition to making friends, doing homework, hanging out with family or lazing around watching TV, it seems teens have plenty of time to go shopping — especially if they happen to be working girls like Jennifer Aniston’s Rachel Green from “Friends.” But what do teenagers who are also famous look like when they leave their dressing rooms? Turns out that looks change just as much as our hormones do. And sometimes, those changes aren’t so great.

Casey Cottle was 16 when he landed his first major recurring television role on Ugly Betty. After starring in numerous episodes over three seasons, Casey got the call to join the cast of Gossip Girl. Although he had been acting since age 7, this opportunity came along quickly — and without warning him that his appearance would cause such controversy. He remembers feeling uncomfortable during photo shoots while wearing prosthetics designed to make him appear older than he really is. “I wasn’t prepared,” he says now. “It felt weird.”

But these days there’s no need for makeup artists, wigs or fake teeth because today’s teen actors don’t rely solely upon special effects. They’ve learned how to work with lighting, hair and wardrobe instead. That way, everyone looks natural. Even though some may prefer not to take part in all the glamour, many still understand why we put up with it. As one former child actor puts it, “If I didn’t wear makeup, people might think I’m ugly, which isn’t true.”

On the next page, let’s meet someone who understands what goes into being a teenager celebrity. Meet 13-year-old actress and singer/songwriter Victoria Justice, who recently appeared in an ad campaign for Doritos alongside Will Arnett. She plays Ariana Grande in Disney Channel Original Movie Alphas, premiering April 27th, and co-stars in Nick’s animated comedy series iCarly. If you saw her music video for “Best Friend” last year, then you know Victoria already has loyal fans across generations.

Q&A Session

Here’s a selection of questions submitted by readers asking Victoria about her favorite activities, fashion tips, advice for fellow tweens and more.

What’s something you learned from appearing on other kids’ shows that surprised you? Why did you agree to it? What were the most fun parts about filming them?

The show Superstore taught me how to use tape properly! It was hilarious seeing Amy [McGrath] trying to fix everything herself and realizing she couldn’t! Also, I loved learning about every character and each person’s personality. I thought it was cool to see behind the scenes too.

You play Ariana in Disney’s upcoming movie Alphas. How does it compare to portraying her on stage at Carnegie Hall? Did you miss performing live? Has it changed the way you write songs? Do you plan to sing onscreen again soon?

Playing Ariana in Alphas was awesome! You learn so many things about singing and dancing, and it makes you want to become better at both. There are definitely moments where you wish you could perform on stage again, but overall it is very different from my previous performances. My goal was to try to keep the same energy onstage as offstage, and I think I accomplished that. Nowadays I mostly focus on writing more original music rather than covers.

Your new album All About Me includes several songs written specifically for movies and television including “Without Your Love,” “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Maybe This Time”. Which song will mean most to you right now?

My newest single “Maybe This Time” means the world to me. When I wrote it, I knew exactly what I wanted it to say –– I needed help before giving myself permission to open up to anyone else. People often tell me that my lyrics reflect their own experiences and feelings, and I hope they hear it in the song. I wrote it after going through a breakup and wanting to find love again, but I never expected to receive messages from guys saying they relate to it too. Hearing positive feedback is amazing and validates everything I’ve done so far.

How important is having supportive parents? Does yours give you guidance or support? Are you close to your mom?

My parents are extremely supportive ——they always believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dreams. Both of them worked hard to provide for us financially, and they helped me start modeling when I was young. A lot of people ask me how I became successful so fast, and I think it comes down to two things: believing in yourself 100 percent and following your intuition.

Did you ever consider pursuing another career besides acting? Have you given any serious thought to changing paths?

At first I said yes to almost anything because I enjoyed it so much. Then I started focusing on school, friends and building relationships. Acting became less stressful over time and now I am able to enjoy it more. I haven’t completely closed the door on other interests, but for now I am happy with what I choose to do.

Do you have any interesting hobbies outside of acting? Or any guilty pleasures you’d care to share?

I love reading books, listening to music and spending time with my friends. Occasionally I like to dance, practice yoga or hang out with my dogs. One of my biggest passions lately has been baking cupcakes.

In 2010, you received the Young Hollywood Award for Best Newcomer. At 22, you starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club. Since then, you’ve played roles in films such as Last Song and Victor Frankenstein. Tell us about how you decide what projects to accept. What’s kept you interested throughout your career?

Accepting a project usually depends on budget and scheduling. Sometimes I audition for roles based on a script or book cover, but I rarely read beyond that point. I tend to trust my gut instincts more than anything else.

Have you found success among your peers? Who are your idols?

Yes, I’ve achieved lots of successes amongst my peers. Some of my favorites include Drew Barrymore, Selena Gomez, Britney Spears and Taylor Swift.

We met Victoria earlier this month via Twitter. To learn more about Victoria, check out her website here. Here are links to watch her latest appearances on Victorious, iCarly and Alphas.

Interview highlights

(edited lightly for clarity)

Tell us about your experience shooting Alphas. Was it similar to shooting iCarly? Were you nervous about playing Ariana?

Shooting Alphas was super exciting. I was excited to explore the characters’ personalities and discover what made them tick. Playing Ariana was nerve racking because we filmed so much extra footage where she didn’t talk. Her lines weren’t used so I basically had to act like her stand-in. Thankfully, it looked seamless.

Has taking control of your career affected your personal style?

Not really. I grew up listening to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, so I guess I developed somewhat of a diva attitude early on. I think it helps motivate me, but at times I can be stubborn. Whenever I am offered a job, I’ll either turn it down or wait until the timing feels perfect to me.

Are you planning on getting any tattoos?

No, not at all! I’m obsessed with Pinterest and Instagram. Every day I scroll through my feed looking at hundreds of ideas for home decorating, hairstyles, outfits etc. I wouldn’t mind getting a tattoo someday, but I doubt it will happen.

Since you’re on camera so much, do you have a secret weapon to staying calm?

Sometimes I listen to music, but others I am content to zone out. I have a few tricks: eating healthy snacks, drinking water and breathing deeply whenever possible.

Now that you’re older, how do you handle criticism?

I usually ignore negative comments unless they come from someone who knows me personally. I appreciate constructive criticism, but I don’t bother responding to trolls.

What’s the strangest thing someone asked you to do on set?

One time a crew member requested that we stay quiet during a scene in order to record sound for later. Another time, I wore a wig to protect my head from glue.

Who inspires you creatively?

There are tons of creative people in my life, starting with my mother who is a painter and interior designer. I admire actresses like Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep and Natalie Portman because they seem fearless. I aspire to be brave enough to express myself artistically.

This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.

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