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    Nickelodeon’s latest star rises

    Victoria Justice says the music she’s writing for her tour is “a little bit of a departure” from her TV role in “Victorious.”
    Keith Munyan
    Victoria Justice says the music she’s writing for her tour is “a little bit of a departure” from her TV role in “Victorious.”

    Back in the old days — you know, the 1900s — great teen idol names were adopted more than born. Think Sandra Dee (nee Alexandra Zuck), Lulu (Marie Lawrie), Pink (Alecia Moore), Scary Spice (Melanie Brown).

    Now comes Victoria Justice, a 19-year-old from Hollywood, Fla., who was handed that name at birth. Her parents might have been hoping she’d become a superhero. Close. She’s the star of her own show, “Victorious,” which airs on Nickelodeon and has spawned a robust singing career and even a few fashion trends — that’s why you see so many pre-teenyboppers in layered tank tops, boots, and feathered earrings.

    Justice, whose TV character is the less fiercely named performing-arts high school student Tori Vega, cut her teeth on shows like “Zoey 101” and “iCarly,” along with the 2009 Disney musical “Spectacular!” and bit parts in some movies no one saw (“Unknown,” “The Garden”). She’s just embarked on her first solo concert tour, which includes sold-out stops at the Cape Cod Melody Tent on Aug. 13 and South Shore Music Circus on Aug. 15. Her opening act is Max Schneider, the star of “How to Rock” and Justice’s duet partner in much-downloaded medleys of hits by Bruno Mars and Maroon 5.


    Justice promises that her stage show will be a mix of favorites from the “Victorious” soundtrack (“Make It Shine,” “Freak the Freak Out,” “Best Friend’s Brother,” etc.), material from a solo CD she hopes to release “soon,” and covers from Coldplay (“Viva la Vida”) to Amy Winehouse by way of the Zutons (“Valerie”). She says her taste in music is as eclectic as her heritage: Her mother is Puerto Rican; her dad is a blend of German, French, Irish, and English. If you had to describe Victoria Justice to the Nickelodeon-impaired, you might call her the Shania Twain of Tweendom, at least in terms of looks and poise.

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    Justice feels like a woman on the move. Her upcoming single (“Faster Than Boys”) will be the third she’s had a hand in writing; her new movie (“Fun Size,” a comedy costarring Chelsea Handler and Johnny Knoxville) will position her as a big-screen leading lady when it comes out on Oct. 26; and “Victorious” just got nominated for three Emmys, including outstanding children’s program. Meanwhile the star, who’s also in demand as a model, answers all of her own fan correspondence and makes time to advocate for charities that work with disadvantaged girls.

    If she had become a superhero, she told us by phone recently, her superpower would be multi-tasking.

    Q. In concert, how are you different from your TV character?

    A. It’s not Victoria on “Victorious,” it’s Tori Vega. We definitely have some similarities, but at the end of the day I’m a completely different person and I feel like the music I’ve been writing for Victoria Justice is going to be a little bit of a departure. So I’m excited to explore that [on stage].


    Q. Are you consciously trying to separate yourself from your TV character?

    A. I love playing Tori Vega, but I also am taking on other projects outside of the show, like my first starring role in a feature film.

    Q. Do you have the bug to make more movies?

    A. Oh, yeah. Making a film is an incredible experience. There were definitely some challenges for me and there’s some meat to this role. I really enjoyed being able to play that. It’s kind of like being transported into a different world. We filmed it in Cleveland.

    Q. There’s been a resurgence of old-school kids’ shows that incorporate music — not just your show, but “Shake It Up,” “Big Time Rush,” “How to Rock.” . . . Why do you think these formulas continue to work?


    A. It’s definitely a resurgence. “Fame,” “The Partridge Family,” “The Monkees,” even on “The Brady Bunch” they did musical numbers occasionally. I’m not quite sure why it works so well. I think it’s just fun.

    Q. What are your personal musical influences?

    A. I really enjoy a lot of different genres. I love a good singer-songwriter like Billy Joel and Elton John and Carole King, and I love Motown. I’m super into the oldies, I grew up listening to them with my mom. But I also like modern-day songwriters like Sara Bareilles and Adele. And as far as stage performers, I love Pink, she inspires me a lot; Gwen Stefani inspires me, Mick Jagger, people who created their own style and are always so true to themselves.

    Q. Being a teen idol today has instant feedback in a way that it didn’t before. Is that a burden?

    A. No. I do all my own tweeting and all of that stuff. I don’t want someone speaking for me. There are specific things that I want to say to my fans and I feel like only I know how to say them.

    Q. You’ve been rehearsing 8 to 10 hours a day for this tour. You must be burning a lot of calories.

    A. Oh my God. I eat all the time, you have no idea. I’m constantly hungry. Nobody understands it.

    Q. What do you like to eat?

    A. When I’m performing I eat pretty healthy. . . . I love sushi.

    Q. Have you been to Massachusetts before?

    A. I have. My step-dad [Mark Reed] is from Boston. We used to go there when we were younger and visit his family. I remember we went apple picking and would go through corn mazes. It was always so beautiful. He grew up on a farm so there were cows and all these other animals. It was really fun.

    Q. We have a lot of seafood here.

    A. (Dramatic gasp) Yay!

    Interview was edited and condensed. Janice Page can be reached at