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Victoria Justice was born on February 19, 1993, in Hollywood, Florida, to Serene and Zack Justice. Her mother is Puerto Rican and her father is of English, German, and Irish descent. She first developed an interest in acting when she was 8 years old after watching a children's commercial. She and her family relocated to Hollywood, California, in 2003. In 2005, she auditioned and was accepted into the musical theatre program at Los Angeles' renowned Performing Arts Magnet school. Her family moved from Hollywood, Florida, to Los Angeles when she was 11 after Justice had stated she wanted to be a part of filming commercials as well as television series and films. Justice has done commercials for companies such as Ralph Lauren, Gap and Guess. She appeared in national commercials for Mervyn's, Peanut Butter Toast Crunch and Ovaltine.
2003–09: Beginnings and Zoey 101
Justice first began her acting career when she was 10 years old, when she made a guest appearance on the Gilmore Girls episode "The Hobbit, the Sofa and Digger Stiles". Justice portrayed Jill #2 in a walk-on role. After her appearance in the series, her family moved to Los Angeles, when Justice stated she wanted a career in acting. The following year, Justice guest starred on the second episode of the Disney channel series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, in which she plays a young pageant contestant named Rebecca. Later, Justice was awarded a role in the 2005 drama-thriller Mary. Justice portrayed the role of Stella, a young girl who begins seeing visions of Mary Magdalene. After informing her family of this, they take her to see a psychiatrist, who places her on medication. Later that night, when Mary comes back, Stella takes her medicine and ignores her. This leads Mary to give Stella's sister the task instead. The film debuted at 2005 Venice Film Festival, before being showed at several other Festivals, including the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, Deauville Film Festival and San Sebastián International Film Festival.
During the same year, Justice was awarded a main cast role in the Nickelodeon series Zoey 101 as Lola Martinez, a new student who is also an aspiring actress. When she found out she had earned the role, she said "I was extremely happy; I was bouncing up and down and screaming. That was a really great moment." The season 2 episode that introduced Justice's character debuted on September 11, 2005. Justice also had roles in two other films that year. She had a cameo appearance in the R-rated film [[When Do We Eat%3F (2006 film)|When Do We Eat?]], as well as earning the role of Rose in the Hallmark television film Silver Bells, the following of which has become a Hallmark Hall of Fame film.
In 2006, while filming episodes for Zoey 101, Justice made a guest appearance on an episode of the series Everwood, in the episode "Enjoy the Ride". Justice made her theatrical film debut that year, when she was given a cameo role in the film Unknown. The film was a financial failure, and received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently has a 39% approval rate, and only has a 44% approval rate on metacritic.
2006 also saw Justice in her first major theatrical role, when she was awarded the supporting role of Holly in the thriller film The Garden. The film was met with negative reviews from critics, with Tex Massacre of Bloody Disgusting giving the film a score of 3 out of 10, stating, "Overflowing with way too much exposition, and a barrage of scenes that offer little more than the actors looking pensive, The Garden felt like five movies – five long strange never-ending tales that were designed to suck the very soul from my body. Perhaps it felt that way because it took me 5 sittings to finally make it through the film!"
2007 and 2008 saw Justice focusing on the third and fourth seasons of Zoey 101, which was coming to a close. Justice released her debut single midway through 2007, while she was still filming Zoey 101. The song was a cover of the Vanessa Carlton song, "A Thousand Miles". The song failed to make an impact on any charts, had little promotion, and no music video was filmed or released. When being interviewed about in 2010 about her musical career, Justice has stated "My family could always tell, ever since I was little, that [music is] something that's always come natural to me and that I've always wanted to do. It's something that's just been in my blood. Ever since I was little, I was taking tap classes, jazz classes, hip-hop classes, acting classes. I just always wanted to cultivate that and do that more. But, the moment where I actually realized, "Woah, this is something that I can actually do for the rest of my life and maybe be successful at," was actually the pilot of Victorious when I did the performance number for the first time. I just remember standing on stage and seeing all these people looking at me and I was nervous. And then, the music started and I started dancing around and really feeling it and having an amazing time, and that's when it clicked for me that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life." May 2, 2008 saw the airing of the final episode of the series.
2009 proved to be a successful year for Justice. She announced plans to guest star on an episode of Nickelodeon's series The Naked Brothers Band. The TV special, titled Valentine Dream Date featured Justice portraying herself. Justice made no plans of going back into the recording studio until 2009, when she starred in the Nickelodeon musical, Spectacular!. Justice's character performs three songs during the course of the film. When being interviewed about the song writing process, Justice stated "It was really fun. This is the first time that people are going to hear me sing officially. There was a YouTube video where I covered “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton, which I did just for fun with my singing coach. Somehow that got leaked online, and I guess people liked it. But this is the first time that my voice will be on any soundtrack and people are actually going to hear me sing in the studio. It’s really cool and I can’t wait for people to hear it! The songs are really catchy and you can dance around to them. When we were filming, that’s all me, Simon [Curtis], Avan [Jogia] and Andrea [Lewis], would listen to! We would dance around to the songs all the time and practice the moves." She also stated "I completed the songs pretty quickly. I sang three songs that were all duets with Simon, and I finished them in 2 days. I practiced them a long time before, because I wanted to be prepared. So for the 2 weeks before that, I was rehearsing every single day, like 10 times a day. It’s a good idea [to memorize the lyrics] because you’re more prepared. I definitely did, but I don’t think everyone does." Justice starred alongside Nolan Funk and Simon Curtis in the musical film, which aired on Nickelodeon on February 16, 2009. The film has become one of Nickelodeon's most popular movies, attracting an audience 3.7 million viewers on its premiere night. The film received a generally positive review from several critics. Common Sense Media said in their review that "With SPECTACULAR!, Nickelodeon attempts to loosen the iron grip Disney established on tween-targeted modern-day musicals with High School Musical and its sequels. Spectacular! definitely has some similarities to HSM – including a talented cast, upbeat song-and-dance numbers, and age-appropriate content for tweens – but there are also some marked differences. Nikko is a bit of a bad boy, mouthing off to his older brother (who acts as his guardian) and flaunting a major superiority complex with the choir members. Courtney's also guilty of some errors in judgment, including allowing her passion for upstaging Ta-Da – and lead singer Royce (Simon Curtis), who defected from Spectacular! – to lead to promising Nikko money that belonged to the group. But rather than weighing the story down, these character flaws actually benefit the overall package. They allow the characters to evolve – and, in the end, that's what tweens will take away from this story. Spectacular! can't boast the same pure star power of its popular Disney rival, but it does offer equally kid-friendly entertainment with strong positive overtones. Though parents will find the story predictable and more than a little cheesy, tweens are sure to embrace it and the messages it sends." The film has a 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of 2011.
After the success of The Naked Brothers Band special in which Justice guest starred, producers insisted on placing her in yet another episode. The episode, titled "The Premiere", debuted on April 11, 2009. Shortly afterward, it was announced that Victoria Justice would be guest starring on a special episode of the hit television series iCarly. The episode, which aired on August 8, 2009 saw Justice portraying ring fighter Shelby Marx. After Carly jokingly states she could beat Marx in a fight, Marx goes to Carly's home and challenges her. The plan is to rig the fight, so no one really is hurt. The fight is set to air on TV as well. However, after Carly's enemy, Nevel, intervenes, the fight turns real. The special was later released onto a DVD of the same name, which features not only the episode, but also has three other iCarly episodes, including "iDate a Bad Boy", "iCarly Awards", and "iLook Alike". The DVD also includes Big Time Audition, the pilot movie of Big Time Rush. September 26 saw the release of the True Jackson, VP episode "True Crush", which featured an appearance by Justice. On its original airdate, the show received 3.6 million viewers.
On November 30 Justice appeared as herself on the latest Nickelodeon show, called BrainSurge. The game show saw Justice competing as a celebrity contestant as part of a series special. Justice announced that year that she would be working on a thriller film, set for theatrical release. It was later announced the film would feature Dylan Sprouse and Cole Sprouse, who star on the Disney series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody as well as its spin-off series The Suite Life On Deck. The film is about two cousins, Will and Clayton, who witness a murder, but out of fear decide not to tell anyone. They and their friend Betsy (Justice), whose father has been wrongfully accused of the crime, go on a journey to find the real killer, and at the same time redeem themselves. Unlike initial plans of a theatrical release, the film had a limited preview release on December 12, 2009 and was returned to post production. Despite this, the film's worldwide release has been canceled.
Justice guest-starred on the Nickelodeon television series, The Troop, in which she portrays an Eris Fairy who has been running around the school breaking up couples in love in the episode "Speed."
2010–present: Victorious and other projects
Justice confirmed that she would be receiving her own musical show on Nickelodeon, explaining the show's genesis thus: "I was on Zoey 101. When I was 12, Dan Schneider cast me as a new character, Lola Martinez. From there, I worked with him for three years, on three seasons ofZoey 101. And, after that, Dan found out that I could also sing and dance as well as act, so he thought it would be really cool to create a show for me on Nickelodeon, called Victorious." The pilot for the show, which was presented as a special for the series, debuted on March 27, 2010, and received 5.7 million views, making it the highest rated premiere for a live-action Nickelodeon series. The original broadcast of this episode was an extended cut, all subsequent airings had various scenes and lines were removed to conform to its time-slot. The extended cut version can be downloaded on iTunes and was featured on the iCarly DVD iSpace Out. The series premiere received generally positive reviews from critics. Brian Lowry of variety.com said of the shows debut "The difference between "Big Time Rush" – Nickelodeon's lackluster first collaboration with Sony Music—and their latest joint venture, "Victorious," rests almost entirely on 17-year-old Victoria Justice's petite shoulders. Both shows are near plot-free and set in a high school for the performing arts, as if the original "Fame" were given a frontal lobotomy. But Justice is winsome and talented enough to provide the latest show a leg up in connecting with tween girls—and not incidentally, maybe selling some music in the process." Common Sense Media praised Justice's role in the series, stating, "Victorious marks Victoria Justice’s rise from successful supporting roles in Zoey 101 and Spectacular! to the center stage, and like her TV counterpart, she proves she’s worthy of the promotion. Tweens will find much to like in this upbeat comedy – original music, dance, and plenty of mild teen drama – and the fact that Tori always emerges with unwavering self-assurance sends positive vibes to impressionable viewers."
Justice returned to the recording studio to record music for the series in 2010. She recorded the series first featured song, which also serves as the theme song, titled "Make It Shine". The single had little success charting in the U.S., however it did manage to reach 16 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 singles chart. Several other songs have been featured in the series, including "You're the Reason", "Finally Falling", "Beggin' on Your Knees","Best Friend's Brother" and "Tell Me That You Love Me". Justice performed her third official single, "Freak the Freak Out", during the Victorious special episode of the same name. The single became her third song to receive an official release, after "A Thousand Miles" and "Make It Shine" and was officially released on November 22, 2010. The single has become her first song to chart on any major chart, when it debuted at 78 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Justice performed the song live for the first time at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Justice later guest-starred on the animated series The Penguins of Madagascar, voicing the character of Stacy in the episode "Badger Pride". Justice starred in the 2010 Nickelodeon television movie The Boy Who Cried Werewolf, playing Jordan Sands, a girl who is transformed into a werewolf following her move to a creepy manor. The film was a major success for the network, drawing in 5.8 million viewers for the premiere. The film received generally positive reviews from critics. The film currently holds a 69% approval rate on Rotten Tomatoes based on 24 reviews. Felix Vasques Jr. of CinemaCrazed gave the film a positive review as well, stating "The Boy Who Cried Werewolf ends up being a surprisingly solid family horror comedy that isn't as soapy or girly as I originally assumed it would be. Within the pandering to preteens salivating after Justice, there is also a solid however flawed and derivative story and some wicked special effects." It has been confirmed that in 2011 the cast of iCarly, along with the cast of Victorious will be doing a crossover episode, titled iParty with Victorious. This will mark the second time Justice has guest starred for iCarly, first as Shelby Marx.
In a 2010 interview with the Associated Press, she stated that she is recording an album but will take her time with the process, rather than rush it, and write the songs on the album. But, she is very excited waiting for it. In March 2011 The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Justice had landed the lead role in the coming of age comedy Fun Size (set for release in October 2012). Justice will play the part of Wren and the movie will also feature stars such as Johnny Knoxville, Chelsea Handler and Josh Pence.
Justice has taken part in a few charity events. She has supported charities such as the United Nations Foundation, which benefits numerous causes such as AIDS, Children, Environment, Health, Human Rights and Peace. On September 30, 2010, Justice announced she would be joining the Charity Campaign Girl Up. When asked about joining, she stated "I’m so excited to become a Champion for Girl Up and to help make a difference for girls who aren’t given the same opportunities that most of us take for granted. I know that there are plenty of girls throughout the country who are just like me – ready and motivated to stand up for the rights and well-being of girls in the developing world. I am confident that, together, we will rise to the challenge." Justice joined Girl Up on September 30, 2010 for the campaign’s official launch in New York City and will go on to support the “Unite for Girls” tour, which travels to cities across the U.S. to activate and engage teens from coast to coast. She will have the chance to visit Girl Up-supported programs in developing countries to observe first-hand the impact they can have on girls and communities. During an interview with Seventeen magazine, Justice stated