With TV credits including The Mentalist and The Last Ship to her name already, Jade Pettyjohn is establishing herself as one of the most sought after, popular young actresses around today. Her latest project has seen her take on the role of Summer in the TV version of the Jack Black led smash-hit move School Of Rock, which airs on Nickelodeon. With shooting on season 2 of the show currently under-way, Jade kindly took time out of her busy schedule to chat first auditions, dream roles, Emma Stone and her immense love of social media.
PW: Please introduce yourself.
Jade Pettyjohn: Hey guys what’s up! I’m Jade Pettyjohn from the Nickelodeon show School of Rock.
PW: How did you first get into acting and how old were you when you realized it was your true passion?
JP: I first got into acting when I was seven. I asked my parents if I could do it because I liked playing characters. Over the years my passion for acting grows more and more. It gets more intricate and interesting to me.
PW: Which TV shows or films did you watch that made you think 'Yeah, I want to do that’?
JP: The first TV show I really remember getting into was Heroes, but I had already started acting. We went to the movies all the time. And I LOVED going to the movies and still do. I feel like acting is something I always wanted to do.
PW: Can you recall the first audition you attended?
JP: My first audition was for a jelly commercial. There were loads and loads of kids there and I remember being SO hungry when we left cause it took a while for them to work through seeing that many kids.
PW: You're a rising star in the entertainment world, but at such a young age, how do you handle the pressure that comes with that?
JP: I get asked about pressure a lot lately. What’s funny to me is that I don’t feel pressured. I love what I do and even better, I love the cast and crew I have been working with. Sure, it’s work, and it’s sometimes hard work, but it is so fun.
PW: What advice would you give to any young people looking to make it as an actor/actress?
JP: The creative part is the part that matters. You have to love that part of the work. Acting is taking a writer’s words and breathing life into it. So know and understand those words. Get a good dictionary - dictionaries are so underrated!
PW: You've appeared in United States of Tara, Henry Danger, The Last Ship and The Mentalist to name just a few. Do you have any favorite memories from your time on those shows?
JP: I could write pages just on that! Each set has its own flavor. Henry Danger for example, is a part of the Nick family and it is very kid friendly. They have a great foosball table. So after lunch we would be attacking that thing and it was a lot of fun. But, The Last Ship, I was often the only kid on set because my plot line didn't cross paths with the other kids. I loved being able to speak with a British accent for the character and exploring the real battle ships that we shot on. That is an experience you don’t often have, ya know?
PW: You're also starring in the Nickelodeon TV series version of the Jack Black smash-hit movie School of Rock. Had you seen the film?
JP: Of course! I am a huge film fan and a huge music fan. So I was very aware of the film, which just added to my excitement and determinism when I was auditioning for the show.
PW: What drew you to the show and what was the audition process for it like?
JP: The writing is amazing and that added to my excitement for the audition. The casting office gave us a few scenes to do. I think it was about 10 or 12 pages total. So I memorized that and worked on the character and performance. They also asked us to prepare a song with our instrument of choice. So I played guitar and sang a song from The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
PW: Did it prove beneficial that you're already a budding guitarist, song-writer, pianist and cellist?
JP: *laughs* I don’t know if I qualify as a cellist just yet, I started playing that in my spare time during season 1. But singing and song-writing I have been doing since I can remember. And guitar I have been playing a few years now and love it. Being a huge music fan helps when the writers are throwing in rock references that most kids don’t know. But my character is musically challenged. I don’t know if my skill sets in those things aided in their choice picking me, or just added to my personal desire to be a part of the show.
PW: What can you tell me about the role you play in the show and what was it like to film?
JP: Summer, my character, is very organized and determined. She is always looking for ways to improve the band and always concentrating on the future, which includes trying to impress Freddy, her ultimate crush. Shooting itself is so fun. The writing is hysterical, so the day is spent trying not to break down laughing while you are rehearsing and shooting.
PW: What would be your dream role? Which actors or actresses would you most like to star alongside and why?
JP: I really love characters that have a lot of layers to them. I love days on set when you have a tear-jerking scene one hour and laughing the next. So I suppose my dream role would be an amazing story that takes you through both the joys and sorrows. I have a very long list of people that I would like to work with. Emma Stone is one. I think I would learn a lot from her and I really admire her. Plus, she seems fun as well as being talented.
PW: Are there any other TV appearances in the pipeline you can tell me about?
JP: School of Rock season 2 started shooting last week!
I’m also working on my YouTube Series, JADE’S JUKEBOX. I am a huge music fan. A lot of kids I know love music too. They want to know more, they want a bigger selection and I get asked for suggestions. I thought doing Jade's Jukebox would be a great way to sort of introduce my generation to music they may not have discovered yet.
PW: How has social media helped in terms of getting your name out there to fans and potential producers/directors? Would you say it's made the business more or less competitive?
JP: I LOVE Social Media! You can find me on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat at @jadepettyjohn. Did I say, I LOVE social media!? It’s a great way to make yourself known. It’s an opportunity to share my work with the public and get immediate feedback and it’s a way to let people know that I sing and play guitar. It’s very gratifying when someone tells me that they were inspired in some way. It makes me feel like I accomplished something with my work.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an actress? Can you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life or do you have other ambitions you'd like to fulfil as well?
JP: My ultimate ambitions as an actress all have to do with performances. So for me it’s, “oh, I would love to shoot a time period piece, what a challenge...” or “wouldn’t it be awesome to play a character that can take a man down with her pinkie?” And I think every actor or actress loves the idea of working on anything that makes the kind of impact that earns an Academy Award nomination. But, acting is not my only ambition. I would love to put out my own album. I love writing as well, and could see myself doing something with that in the future. There are many games to play in this world. Right now I am focused on acting and music and I am loving it!
You can get a taste of School Of Rock via the video below and for more information on Jade Pettyjohn, visit her website.