Blog | interview
- Posted on 09/05/2014 by TeenNickBlogger
Credit: Andrew Zaeh
If you aren't already smitten by singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes, brace yourself. The Vine-star-turned-superstar-on-the-rise has stolen the hearts of many (in under six seconds, no less!) and is about to break out in a major way. We caught up with our brand new Fresh Artist to get exclusive details about his life on tour with Austin Mahone and The Vamps, his biggest influences, and so much more!
1. Congratulations on all of your recent success! What is a day in the life of Shawn Mendes like right now?
Wake up on a tour bus in a new city every day, find the nearest shower, head to radio station to say "Hello," grab some food, then meet some fans, then hit the stage. :-)
2. What was the inspiration behind your hit song "Life of the Party"?
The song is inspired by the feeling of not fitting in or not being comfortable with who you are. The lyrics basically say that you should be yourself and that you can be amazing regardless of whether you feel you fit in or not.
3. What's it like being on tour with TeenNick faves Austin Mahone and the Vamps? Has anything crazy or funny happened during your time together?
It's awesome and everyone is just so chill and relaxed and having a good time. We're always cracking jokes with each other behind stage. I'd say the craziest moment was getting chased by 400 fans at one of the first shows.
4. When you started recording covers on Vine and YouTube, did you ever think your music would spread as much as it has?
I really didn't think it would, I kind of just started doing it because I loved posting covers and then it just spiraled into this crazy thing as I kept posting. It's really beyond my expectations.
5. What do you think about the power of connecting with people in a six-second video?
It's so cool because in six seconds you have to really find something special in a song and impress people a lot to connect with them. I think that's been a big thing for me and my fans connecting.
6. Who are your biggest musical influences?
Definitely Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, just how he holds himself and such, and Bruno Mars is such an unbelievable performer.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
And now, the rapid fire round! We asked Shawn a series of silly questions, and here are the first things that came to mind!
If you want to catch more of Shawn, head over to the TeenNick Top 10 page! And don't forget to tune in tonight at 10pm ET!
- Posted on 08/22/2014 by TeenNickBlogger
Credit: Jared Thomas Kocka
Colette Carr has a fuse, and it's about to go off. This sassy spitfire rapper is not afraid to use her voice to send a message, and that's exactly why she's our newest TeenNick Top 10 Fresh Artist. We caught up with the girl behind the hit song "HAM" to learn a little more about her background, her exciting career and how a certain Snow White costume used to be a staple of her wardrobe. (What?!) Check it out below!
1. As both a singer and a rapper, did you discover one talent before the other? Or have you always done both?
I discovered I could rap in high school when my ex-boyfriend decided he wanted to freestyle battle with kids after school. He was so ummmm...not great/terrible that I started ghost writing for him. I fell in love with free-styling and rap. I didn't know I could sing until I started working on my album "The Skitszo Collection". The first time I really sang was in the studio with FrankMusik recording songs like Killswitch, F16, Delusional, Hearsay & No ID.
2. What is one moment in your career so far that has made you wonder, "How did I get here?"
Anytime I'm on stage and the crowd gets their hands up without me even asking them to, or know the lyrics to my songs and sing/scream along it's like an out-of-body experience. I know exactly how I got here though, it's been a long, crazy, difficult journey. Definitely collaborating with guys like e40 and TechN9ne, legends I grew up listening to, bumping tracks in the studio with them, and having them feature on my songs because they love my sound, those moments are very surreal "how did I get here" moments.
3. You've cited Eminem as a musical influence. What do you admire most about him? Are there any other art forms that inspire you??
Eminem and Dr. Dre were the first hip hop artists I ever listened to, I was tiny and obsessed. I learned all the lyrics to the clean versions of their albums. The way Eminem tells his life stories and paints pictures with words that rhyme seamlessly, it's intimidatingly good, I can't get enough. I love all forms of art. On my days off I like to finger paint.
4. Many of your videos show off your fearless sense of personal style. How important is fashion when you're performing? Where do you get your style inspiration?
It's weird, I never think about "fashion" or clothes, or personal style. When I was in preschool I wore a Snow White costume with mix-matched Chuck Taylor's everyday, my mom was worried about me. I don't really think before I get dressed, I usually grab clothes in a hurry. I just throw on a Pikachu beanie, some sneakers and run out the door. When I write my video treatments I already know exactly what I want to look like to portray my lyrics or the overall mood of the song, so choosing the outfits is the easy part.
I hand made the cake dress for my "HAM" video, [and] I actually hand make and design a lot of the stuff I wear. Fashion is a form of expressing myself therefor it is important to me, although I wouldn't mind wearing a bath robe and pajamas everyday.
5. What are you looking forward to most in the next phase of your career? Is there any one thing you're determined to conquer?
I am MOST excited about continuing to tour and meet/hangout with fans/goers after my shows. I love being on stage and in the studio writing and creating. My favorite though, is making music videos! I can't wait to pick a single, record a music video for it and share it with the world. The next phase of my career will be epic. It will be better than chocolate Nutella on a warm piece of toast, mark my words. :)
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
And now, the rapid fire round! We asked Colette a series of silly questions, and here are the first things that came to mind!
If you want to catch more of Colette, head over to the TeenNick Top 10 page! And don't forget to tune in tonight at 10pm ET!
- Posted on 08/08/2014 by TeenNickBlogger
It's official. We love Katy Tiz. She's a super talented songstress from the UK (currently holding it down in the U.S. of A), and if you haven't heard of her yet, listen up. Katy's hit single "The Big Bang" is a funky, sassy tune that's every bit '20s swing band as it is straight-up pop. Her voice is a perfect mix of Adele and Fergie, but at the same time something new and unforgettable. We caught up with our newest Fresh Artist to learn a little more about her background and career. Check it out below!
1. Congratulations on signing with Atlantic Records! After releasing music independently for some time, how does it feel to make it with such a big name label?
It's AMAZING!! I still wake up everyday and have a little scream... It can get a little awkward when I'm alone and walking down the street... ;)
2. You're originally from the UK but have recently been spending a lot of time around the US. What has been your favorite city to visit so far?
Wow! That's a hard one, I fell in love with Chicago, Seattle, San fransisco and many more! I'm so lucky to travel and get to visit all the places. I do love anywhere with high buildings. I'm all about a view.
3. What made you want to pursue music? Has singing always been your passion?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. It's helped me through some rough patches. I was a late bloomer at 18, but my dream is to help others the way music has helped me. This is what has made me chase my passion.
4. If you had the chance to do a musical collab with any artist, who would it be and why?
Hmmmmmmmm... Well I was lucky enough to go and see Justin Timberlake in concert this weekend [interview conducted in July] and he was incredible so I would have to say him! #fangirlmoment
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
And now, the rapid fire round! We asked Katy a series of silly questions, and here are the first things that came to mind!
If you want to catch more of Katy, head over to the TeenNick Top 10 page! And don't forget to tune in tonight at 10pm ET!
- Posted on 08/22/2013 by TeenNickBlogger
You might remember Fifth Harmony from their early days as individual contestants on the X Factor, but nowadays this girl group is taking the pop world by storm as TeenNick Top 10's Fresh Artist! Their equal parts high-octane and totally sweet girl-power sound have won over millions, and it's still only the beginning. We caught up with Normani, Ally, Lauren, Dinah, and Camila to talk about their forthcoming album, their loyal Harmonizers, and their surreal journey to stardom!Congratulations on being named TeenNick Top 10's Fresh Artist! What is going on in your busy lives this month?Normani: Thank you so much! I love me some TeenNick. This month has most definitely been our busiest thus far. We recently finished our first tour called "Harmonize America!" It was such a blast getting to meet the Harmonizers in person. We also attended the Teen Choice Awards & will be attending the VMAs. We're very excited to walk on the same carpet as our idols that we've looked up to since we were little girls.
Ally: Thank you! This month we are performing, attending the VMAs, and getting prepped for the Cher Lloyd tour!
Lauren: Well we're actually wrapping up our "Harmonize America" tour which was an incredible experience. We had so much traveling around the country together and meeting so many of our Harmonizers! We also have a lot of performances set up in the time between the end of this tour and the beginning of the "I Wish" tour with Cher Lloyd.
Camila: We just finished our "Harmonize America" tour which was incredible!!!! This week we'll be going to the VMAs so we're preparing ourselves for the cardiac arrest that'll come when we see all those people we look up to standing in front of us. Also we're about to start the "I Wish" tour with Cher Lloyd which is reeeeally exciting!At the beginning of the year, you were named the "Next Pop Superstar of 2013" by Popdust Magazine. How do you begin to process such a huge honor?Normani: It's such an honor to be named "Next Pop Superstar of 2013!" I've always voted for these kinds of things and bought magazines, but to actually be in it is amazing. I totally would not be able to say that a year ago. I love that our Harmonizers pushed and voted for us. Super dedicated!
Ally: It's disbelief honesty! We were up against some pretty talented acts, and for us to be named the Next "Pop Superstar of 2013" is pretty awesome!! We hope to take this year by storm :)
Lauren: It's not really something that ever sinks in but it is one of the coolest things that has happened to us considering that when we were named, we didn't have a single piece of original music out. It was amazing to see how much people believed in our project and how much our Harmonizers supported us even then.Camila: When you're honored with such a title as the next "Pop Superstar" by Popdust, it's one of those things where it sinks in a little that this is actually happening. As clich� as it sounds everything that's happening to us doesn't really seem like reality, it seems like we're all living in this dreamland where everything we never thought could happen, but wanted to happen, is happening. Getting such an honor was such a surreal thing, but it also makes it click for us that we have to work our butts off to make it happen.
Dinah: To be honest I never thought that any of this would or could ever happen to me, so it's hard to process a huge honor when it feels so surreal. Although I'm living my dream it still hasn't processed completely! It's an amazing feeling.Many of your YouTube covers have been praised by the original artists themselves, namely Ed Sheeran. What is it like having someone like Ed Sheeran applaud your work?Normani: It was absolutely amazing and felt unreal. We were actually in the recording studio when he tweeted us and we stopped, dropped & rolled haha. I replied and called him Mr. Ed Sheeran sir. It makes me happy to see humble people that are on his level of success. It really inspired us.
Ally: It's phenomenal. We look up to Ed so much. Personally, he has inspired me and blessed me with his music. I'm a huge fan. For him to compliment us is just insane and such a huge honor. We cried and screamed when we saw his tweet!!
Lauren: It's one of the best feelings in the world when someone you look up to so much applauds you for what you love to do. Ed Sheeran is one of my favorite artists so for him to compliment our arrangement and execution of his song Lego House was a surreal moment. I'll never forget.
Camila: I am not even joking when I say that (and all the girls can testify) I burst into tears when Ed saw our cover and said it was incredible. He is my favorite artist and for somebody that I look up to so much and is one of my biggest musical influences to say he liked the cover meant the world to the girls and me.
Dinah: I am speechless because to have people you look up to compliment us is the greatest feeling ever. I remember reading Ed Sheeran's tweet and immediately ran to Camila and Ally and screamed OMG HE TWEETED US!! He tweeted us! Even when I think back at that very moment the adrenaline and rush was so VELA! (Hot)Your debut single, "Miss Movin' On" is such a soulful, powerful girl-power pop anthem. What can your fans expect from your upcoming album?Normani: Our album comes out this fall and we can't wait until you guys are able to hear it. We worked super hard and we also co-wrote a lot of the songs and put in our input. The sound is fun, pop with hints of r&b vibes and a ton of vocals! We have a few girl anthem songs on the album as well #GirlPower.
Ally: They can expect a pop sound. Lots of fun and craziness, but also a range of vocals from all of us. We also co-wrote many of the songs, so our fans will have a piece of us.
Lauren: Well the album is a collection of fun, pop songs with soulful girl-power vocals on it haha. We also got the opportunity to co-write on a lot of the songs that make up our album, so that was a great learning and growing experience as artists.
Camila: We co-wrote a lot of the songs from the album which was an incredible experience for us. People will get a little piece of us when they listen, which is something we all admire in our favorite artists.
Dinah: I think the supporters should expect something fun, retro, relatable, girl power, energy and lots of LOVE.
What is the most surreal thing you have experienced as a group since the X Factor?Normani: Looking out into the audience and seeing how our music reflects on the people that support us to the fullest. Our fans go above and beyond for us. Also, getting to meet some of our idols. I nearly passed out when I saw Shay Mitchell haha.
Ally: The overwhelming amount of support from the Harmonizers. It's absolutely insane!!
Lauren: I think thus far, presenting at the Teen Choice Awards was one of the most surreal things. To have Demi introduce us on stage and then to present the Acuvue Inspire Award to Nick Jonas, who is a childhood icon of mine, was one of the craziest things that's ever happened to us.
Camila: It is a tad cruel for me to be able to narrow it down to one surreal moment. THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE HAS BEEN ONE CONTINUOUS SURREAL MOMENT! Haha. I think the Teen Choice Awards was so surreal. Seeing literally everyone I'm obsessed with on the carpet and being a couple feet away from them and acting as if I weren't having heart palpitations was just insane.
Dinah: I think the most surreal thing is working with the best producers the best song writers and meeting all kinds of celebrities. And we are blessed with the BEST team of people it's definitely a blessing.You have an incredibly loyal fan base. What is the craziest thing you've seen, heard, or received from a Harmonizer?Normani: Well one time these girls ran like 5 minutes trying to keep up with our van haha and once I received a cut out picture of my face! Kinda scary�
Ally: Quite a few people have said that they have stopped self-harming because of us. It's astounding that we could have that kind of impact on people. That is why we do this, to help and inspire people. It's the best feeling in the world to know that we could help somebody like that.
Lauren: I don't think we've experienced anything too crazy, but one time a person ran after our bus for a good five blocks and like actually kept up with the car.
Camila: I think one of the craziest things I hear from harmonizers is when they tell us they've traveled thousands of miles just for a performance. We've met some people that have come from other countries just for us. It always shocks me.
Dinah: Well just recently a Harmonizer gave me a dinosaur suit! I thought that was so clever because my name is Dinah and they brought me a dinosaur suit lol.With all of the boy bands in the music scene right now, we're stoked you are making a name for girl groups out there! Which female artists have or continue to inspire you?Normani: It's such an amazing and beautiful opportunity to represent as inspire girls. We're all about girl power and strive to inspire and makes a difference. We're blessed to have this platform to allow us to do that YAAAY GIRL GROUPS. Beyonc�, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Jessie J, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Brandy, Selena, Jennifer Lopez & Selena!
Ally: I love Selena Quintanilla, Beyonce, JLO and Adele!! They're all so talented in their own way and each has made a huge impact on the industry.
Lauren: I think one of my main inspirations artist-wise has been Lana Del Rey, because I love how original her sound is and I think her melodies are really cool. I also have developed this deep respect for an artist named Lorde because she's only 16 and writes all of her music and they're just so dope for lack of a better term. I think she's gonna take over the music scene soon. She's amazing.
Camila: Demi Lovato definitely inspires me in every sense of the word. I love how she's shared her story with the world to help other teen girls going through the same issues and how she gives people a piece of her through her music. In songs like, "For The Love of a Daughter" or "Warrior," she's completely honest with her fans. She's an incredible role model for girls and she's inspired me as a person and as an artist. She rocks.
Dinah: I am always inspired by Patty Labelle, One Direction, Cher Lloyd, Leona Lewis, Beyonce, Carrie Underwood and many more because they continue to reinvent themselves and I learn from them and hope one day to be like them one day...
- Posted on 05/17/2013 by Lisa
18-year-old singer/songwriter Olivia Somerlyn, the TeenNick Top 10 Fresh Artist of the Month, talks about her writing process in part two of our interview. (Read part one, in which she talks about opening up for Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice on tour this summer, here.)
What's your writing process like?
First of all, I could really write a song anywhere, because inspiration comes at the weirdest times. Somebody says a word, and I think "Oh, that'd be great in a song." I have to write it down. I have to always be ready for that. I've even written songs on a plane, with my headphones, my notebook, and the piano app on my phone, trying to play chords and not being able to do it. The flight attendants were cracking up at me -- that's not the ideal place to write a song.
Usually I get inspired right when I'm about to fall asleep, and I end up staying up way too late working on a song. Sometimes I think that's when the best inspiration comes, when you're winding down. You have time to think.
It's so funny. I'm in bed, the lights are off, and my eyes are closed. I think of either a concept or a melody, but I have to wake up really early the next day... so do I work on this, or do I fall asleep? Should I record it really quick? It's hard to decide sometimes.
Do you have a favorite place to write?
I used to live in the Bay Area, and I had a great view from my room. I had a little keyboard set up there, and I always used to love when it rained. I wrote one of my songs, "Only in the Movies," while looking at that view in the rain. I always go back to that place in my mind. I love writing songs in the rain, there's just something about it.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start writing their own songs?
I'd just say, get started as soon as you can. Just write, and don't worry about making it perfect right off the bat. I have notebooks full of songs that I wrote, I mean, complete songs -- they have lyrics, melody, everything -- that I never really recorded for real or released. But it was worth it, because I learned so much writing all those songs.
Also, one thing that really helps me as I write songs is to amplify the emotion that I'm feeling. I think in order for a song to really move people, for it to come across as poetry, as art, because that's really what songwriting is, there needs to be an amplification of reality, rather than just conversational words as lyrics.
What's the best advice anyone has ever given you about songwriting?
I love this question because it makes me think about all the amazing people that I've worked with, and all the writers that I've met. When I first started co-writing, I started typing my words on a laptop, rather than writing by hand in a notebook, like I used to, when I was writing by myself. Then I worked with this really great co-writer who told me that she always uses paper and a pen -- not even pencil -- so she wouldn't be able to delete or erase the lyrics that she didn't end up using. Then she could refer back and use those words to create other songs -- flip back and see if there are other lyrics that would work for it. That really changed the way I wrote, because I ended up looking back at my old notebooks and finding little pieces that I can use in other songs.
And this is less technical, but another piece of advice that somebody gave me that really stuck with me is "The more transparent you become, the more universal you become." It has really encouraged me to open up and be more vulnerable in my songwriting. I got that advice pretty recently, and I think it particularly shows in one of the songs on my new album.
Have you ever heard a song and thought "I wish I'd written that"? What song was it?
I think this all the time. My music taste is very eclectic. I listen to so many different artists. I'm always Shazamming songs on my iPhone when I go to stores and restaurants. I find a song and then I'm obsessed with it for a while. Right now it's "Just Give Me a Reason" by Pink and Nate Ruess. It reminds me of my music style -- it's piano based with a really cool beat behind it. I just wish I'd written it!
What else do you think you'll have on your summer 2013 playlist?
I've heard whispers that Katy Perry's new album is coming out this summer, and I don't know if that's true, but I really hope it is, because I'm really excited about it. Also, the new Big Time Rush album, which I'll get to hear all the time on tour this summer.
I've never been on a tour before, so in the days leading up to the tour, I can't sleep because I'm nervous, or I can't sleep because I'm excited. I really like getting lost in a book right before bed. I read as much as I possibly can right before I fall asleep, so the last thing in my mind is what's going on in the book, with the story and the characters. I think it's even better when it's something that's very different from my life, from a different time period especially, so I can just sort of be transported.
Since you love historical fiction, I have to ask: If you could go back in time and play a few songs for ANY historical figure, which one would you pick?
I love this question. I read a lot of historical novels, especially about European history. I took AP European History and I just loved it so much. I wrote a research paper about Marie Antoinette for that class, so I'd probably choose her. Everyone thinks she's so frivolous, but I think she's very misunderstood.
What's on your summer reading list?
I'm in the middle of reading The Great Gatsby, and I really like it so far. I don't know what I'm going to read next, so I'd love suggestions from people.
Thanks, Olivia. I hope you have a wonderful summer on tour!
Thank you so much!
If you see Olivia on the Summer Break Tour, say hi. She says, "It'll make my day." Catch her on TeenNick Top 10 all month long (Fridays at 10pm et, 7pm pt), and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. See her live on the Summer Break Tour, beginning June 21 in Los Angeles.
- Posted on 05/10/2013 by Lisa
18-year-old singer/songwriter Olivia Somerlyn is the TeenNick Top 10 Fresh Artist of the Month for May. I talked to her about her summer plans, which include opening up for Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice on the Summer Break Tour.
Congratulations on being named Fresh Artist of the Month!
Thank you! My TeenNick Top 10 interview was my first TV interview ever, and this is my first phone interview.
Yay! What's one thing you want everyone who reads this interview to know about you?
For the past few years that I've been working on my music, it's been all pretty much behind the scenes work. I've been writing a lot, recording a lot, and just being a perfectionist. This is going to be my first tour, and I can't even explain how excited I am to share my music with everybody.
What are you looking forward to most about the tour?
I'm mostly excited about meeting everybody before and after the show. I'll try to always be outside saying hi to everyone, kind of like I am on Twitter and online. I try to respond to everyone who tweets me, because it's just so much fun talking to everyone and responding to all the questions. I also can't wait to meet Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice, because I haven't met them yet! Everyone keeps asking if I've met them, but not yet! Hopefully soon!
What's your favorite Big Time Rush song?
I have two. One is one of their more recent songs, called "Windows Down." I listen to it when I'm working out, and it's just so energizing and fun. It's always stuck in my head.
I went to the kick-off party for the tour at House of Blues a few weeks ago, and Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice did a little show. Big Time Rush played an acoustic set, and they played one of their older songs, "Nothing Even Matters," and it sounded so cool acoustically. That made it one of my favorites.
What was it like at the kick-off party?
I was just in the audience, thinking, "I can't believe I'm going on tour with these guys!" There were people handing out flyers on the way in, and my name was on the flyer: "Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice and ME?" It was so crazy.
So, what are you bringing with you on tour? Tell me five things you can't live without.
#1. I want to bring my dog, Luke, but I don't know if he'll be able to handle all that traveling. That's making me really nervous, because how am I going to get through seven weeks without my puppy?
#2. This is my first time on tour, and my first time sleeping on a tour bus. I'll probably have to bring a really good pillow so I can get comfortable anywhere. #3. A notebook, so I can write lyrics.
#4. I want to figure out some sort of small keyboard situation for the tour bus, because I'm always writing songs, and it'd be really hard not to have that.
#5. Definitely my phone, because I am always taking pictures. I'm a Big Time Rush fan and a Victoria Justice fan, so I want to be able to share my backstage access. I know what it's like to be a fan, and wonder what goes on behind the scenes, so I want to be the eyes and ears of everyone who wants to follow me on Instagram and Twitter.
You're very active on Twitter. When you communicate directly with your fans, how do you stay focused on the good stuff and avoid the haters?What's your favorite thing about performing live?
Most people have been so nice and so positive, and even when they aren't, I just focus on the positive. I either ignore it or respond with something nice. I don't believe in fighting fire with fire, not just on social media, but in my personal life. I have a song on my upcoming EP about that, about standing up for yourself without having to sink to that level.
I've performed live a little bit around Los Angeles, but since this is my first tour, I'm looking forward to figuring out what it's really like. I've been going to concerts my whole life, thinking "I really can't wait... I just wanna be on stage!" I can already kind of tell what my favorite thing is going to be -- connecting with the audience.
What's the best show you've been to lately?
The most recent show I went to was Imagine Dragons, and it was just so cool. I love their songs, and the stage design was amazing. I've never been to a Big Time Rush or a Victoria Justice show, so I'm excited about getting to see them like 38 times this summer!
When is your EP coming out? Can you give us any hints about what it's going to be like?
I'm hoping to release my EP in August -- right after the tour! It will have a few more upbeat, summer, catchy, fun songs than my first EP, so I hope people will want to sing along.
In honor of the summer tour and your last name, let's do some summer questions.
Favorite summer food?
Seasonal summer fruit. All year, I wait for peaches and nectarines.
Favorite summer memory?
My mom and I used to drive to Lake Tahoe every summer, and we'd listen to Coldplay's album Parachutes the whole way there, the whole way back, and the whole time we were there. Now, when I hear those songs it reminds me of my favorite summer days.
Favorite summer activity?
Probably after this summer, it's gonna be touring! But I hope that at the end of the summer I'll get to drive up to Lake Tahoe and go swimming, or even just jump in the ocean and swim.
In part two of this interview, Olivia talks about her writing process and shares songwriting tips. Read it here!
Catch Olivia Somerlyn on TeenNick Top 10 all month long (Fridays at 10pm et, 7pm pt), and keep in touch with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also see her live on the Summer Break Tour, beginning June 21 in Los Angeles.
- Posted on 02/24/2012 by Lisa
Alex Steele plays a new character, Tori, on Degrassi this season, but she's not new to the show -- she used to play Craig's little sister, Angie. I met up with her when she was in L.A. for the Degrassi party, and we talked about her Degrassi past, present, and future.
So you're playing Tori now, but you already have a place in Degrassi history. How old were you when you played Angie?
I was five or six years old.
Do you remember much about it?
I remember some of the faces. It was a great environment. It wasn't like, "Oh this is work." It was like, "Playtime, let's do this!"
How did you end up back on Degrassi?
They created the character Tori, and then they had an open audition, and I just auditioned like everyone else.
That's so cool. Was your sister psyched about it? (Alex's sister, Cassie, played Manny Santos on Degrassi for years.)
Yes, she really encouraged me. She was like, "We're gonna do this!" and she helped me with my audition, going through the script and giving me pointers. It was really great. She was so enthusiastic. She went to my second audition -- my callback -- with me, and she was there in the lobby like, "You can do this, Alex!" It was great.
Did you and Cassie have sisterly drama growing up?
Nothing bad, really... We're about 5 and a half years apart, but we're a pretty awesome team.
I love how in "Underneath It All, pt. 2," we start to get a real sense of Tori's character. How would you describe her?
She's different than I am, but in a way, she's going through problems that every girl can relate to, like boys and drama. Even though she deals with it differently -- she uses her "charms" -- I think she's really easy to relate to.
I think so, too. I'm really excited to see what happens with her this season.
She's quite a piece of work, I must say!
How has it felt being back at Degrassi?
I was super-super-super nervous at first. Because my sister had worked there, I was like "I've gotta be perfect..." I wanted to live up to my sister's awesome reputation, and then after a while, I just kind of relaxed, because everybody there has a really relaxed vibe.
It's sort of neat that you were nervous about your first day on set, and it was also your character's first day at Degrassi.
Yes, and it was the first job I've gotten since Degrassi! I was like "Oh my gosh, I've gotta do this..."
Where do you want to see Tori go? Do you think she'll end up ruling the school?
I think she's gonna get there, but there are obviously going to be a LOT of struggles for her. Like, this season, she's new, she's a freshman, and she's really trying to prove that she's good enough.
I'm so excited for the fans to see these episodes!
I'm excited to see them, too! I haven't seen them yet.
It was nice meeting you!! Thanks so much for talking to me!
Thanks so much!
*hugs* (Note from Lisa: Yes, we hugged at the end of the interview. Is that unprofessional? It's just how we roll at TeenNick.)
- Posted on 11/05/2011 by LisaEmily-Anne Rigal, 17, was bullied so harshly as a kid that she had to switch schools. That experience lead her to create We Stop Hate, a website where teens make videos to combat bullying. I interviewed Emily-Anne while she was in Hollywood for the HALO Awards ceremony, and she gave me a We Stop Hate wristband. (Thanks, Emily-Anne!)
Emily-Anne Rigal and HALO Awards host Nick Cannon
Can you talk a little about what you're doing with what We Stop Hate?
We raise teen esteem as a way to stop bullying, because if you're happy with yourself, you don't put others down. We post one video a week where someone shares a story about an insecurity they overcame or their favorite confidence tip or trick. Sometimes we have celebrities. We basically make online videos as a way to promote raising self-esteem.
How did it all start?
So, I had been making Youtube videos since I was a freshman in high school. They were comedy videos. I taped my family doing funny things, and my friends and I. There was some vlogging, just talking about things I cared about, but it was very Emily-Anne based, as opposed to We Stop Hate, which is more about creating a platform for other people to share things. It was a hobby, and I ended up loving it so much that I would do it all the time, and some of the Youtubers became my closest friends, and we talked all the time and would video chat.
It was just a really great community, and I had about 5000 subscribers, but some of my friends had like, 100,000 subscribers. And I was like, "Why don't we spread some positive message, as opposed to all of us just making comedy videos?" And the reason I chose self-esteem is because I was bullied when I was younger. I ended up switching schools, and it was just a really bad experience. I had body image issues because of it, and at the time, I just felt so bad about myself. I changed schools and made a lot of friends, and then gradually, my self-confidence increased. By the time I was making videos on the internet, I wasn't having those same issues, but I realized that some kids at my school were. I was like, I want to help them, because I can relate to what they're going through. So that's how We Stop Hate came about.
Was there anything that you found really challenging as you were developing We Stop Hate?
I found it challenging at first to share my idea with others and have them come on board. Sometimes people can be hesitant, because self-esteem sounds like what your guidance counselor talks about, and I wanted to have cool Youtubers make videos. I had to really share my story and talk about why it is so important to do this, and get them on board. I was just really authentic, and I told them what I wanted to do, and one by one people turned around and we ended up making our own phrase, "teen esteem." I felt like people could identify with it, and make their own definition.
What has been your proudest moment? Is there one moment that stands out in your memory?
I was on a panel about teen activism two weeks ago. I remember looking at the kids who were sitting there, and I thought to myself as I was sitting down... two years ago -- almost to that day two years ago -- I was at an empowerment event in Washington, D.C. I hadn't thought of We Stop Hate, I wasn't doing self-esteem things. I was just a kid, just like them, who wanted to do something. And so the first thing I said on that panel was, "I just wanna make it clear that I was in your seats only two years ago, and I'm not better than you. In only two years, I went from sitting there with no idea for this to being on a panel doing this." That moment meant a lot to me, but like, I feel like I could write a novel, there have been so many moments.So when you're building someone's self-esteem, you're also kind of empowering them to help the community, too. That's great.
Emily-Anne with HALO winners, Kyle, Shanoah, and James
I feel like that's a big part of self-esteem, because self-esteem is based on doing "esteemable acts." So when you're doing something that you care about, you're building your self-esteem. It just feels good to give back, and I wish more kids realized that and felt more empowered to do that.
What advice would you give someone who has never really volunteered or started getting involved in their community?
I would say to help one person, because I think that will give you the confidence to believe in helping more. So I think, find a person, and it can be someone at your school. It doesn't need to be wrapped up with a pretty bow -- just reach out to someone that you think needs to be reached out to.
What's one thing everyone who reads this could do today to help We Stop Hate?
Watch our videos. Check out our website and our Facebook, watch our videos, and share them.
What was the whole experience like of winning a HALO? How did they surprise you?
I was interning at Seventeen magazine this summer, and I was told that we were going to do a feature piece about We Stop Hate. I was editing a video with a bunch of the Seventeen editors helping me. I had watched the HALO Awards in the past, so when Nick Cannon came in, I knew exactly what it was, and I was just DYING. [Watch the show to find out what happens next!]
You were familiar with the HALO Awards? That's awesome! So how did it go from that to meeting Lady Gaga?
I didn't know Lady Gaga was the celebrity, and I went to lunch with one of the producers of the show, and I didn't even want to mention Lady Gaga, because I thought they would laugh at me... and then it was Lady Gaga. One of the camera people told me my facial expressions were like, "That looks like Lady Gaga, but that CAN'T be Lady Gaga... oh my god, that's LADY GAGA!" [Watch the show to find out what happens next!]
Aside from meeting her, did anything about Lady Gaga surprise you?
No! I expected her to be super-authentic, and she was. I did an interview with Nickelodeon before I won the HALO, and they were like "Who do you admire?" And I was like "Lady Gaga, because of what she stands for." I feel like she lived up to all of my expectations.
Anything last bits of advice for HALO viewers?
The message I really want to send is that making a difference is about doing what you can, with what you have, where you are. I think the beautiful thing about HALO is that it's regular kids, and anyone can do it.
Watch Emily-Anne helping and leading others on the 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards, premiering Sunday, Nov. 6th at 8pm on Nick@Nite. Follow @WeStopHate and @Schmiddlebopper on Twitter, and watch a few WeStopHate videos!
Emily-Anne Rigal and Lady Gaga!
- Posted on 04/08/2010 by Mary
Jessica Tyler, who plays Jenna on Degrassi, answered some quashes for us. I know a lot of people are Anti-Jenna, but I hope you won't feel anti-Jessica; she 's pretty sweet.
What was the first rock show/concert you ever went to, and what was the BEST rock show/concert you ever went to?
My first rock concert was Backstreet Boys! It was AMAZING and ever since then I've loved concerts :) However, the best rock concert I went to was Kings of Leon! They were so inspiring and true, total rock stars!
What makes you cranky?
What makes me cranky is no sleep! It totally throws me off!
And what gets you un-cranky?
A bubble bath and lots of sleep lol.
When you doodle, what do you draw?
I draw hearts and stars.
What do you think makes a good Degrassi episode?
I think drama makes a great episode, it adds interest ;)