Since guest-starring in her first television project in 2003, Victoria Justice – who turns 20 today – has seen her stock rise in Hollywood. From serving as the roommate to Britney’s sister Jamie Lynn Spears in Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101 to headlining her own series, Victorious, on the network, the half-Puerto Rican multi-hyphenate and Latina’s October 2012 cover girl is leading the way for the next generation of Latina superstars. To commemorate Justice’s cumpleaños, here’s a look at the 20 Things We Love About Her!
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She’s Proud of Her Multicultural Heritage
The United States is commonly described as a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities; and Victoria Justice could easily be considered one of the country’s poster children. After all, she’s the product of an English-German-Irish father and a Puerto Rican mother. And the Nickelodeon star is proud to serve as a role model. “I think it's really cool that I can represent that sort of melting pot,” Justice once told Para Todos magazine. “I think that Latina girls and even guys need to be able to look up to someone who's similar to them on TV, and I think that’s really cool that I could be able to do that and that they can relate to me."
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She’s Been Working Half Her Life
She’s just 20 years old, but Justice has already been working in Hollywood for a decade, since landing a walk-on role on the WB’s Gilmore Girls. Justice made television debut in a guest-starring role on the Alexis Bledel comedy-drama, in an episode entitled "The Hobbit, the Sofa and Digger Stiles.”
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She’s an Ovaltine Girl!
She’s currently the star of Nickelodeon’s Victorious… But as a little girl getting her start in acting, an oh-so-adorable Justice appeared in a soccer-themed commercial for the malted dairy drink Ovaltine. “It’s chocolaty,” professes the pony-tailed Justice in the 15-second ad, adding, “Ovaltine’s amazing!” And just like that we were sold on her bright future!
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She’s a Mama's Girl
Even though she has managed to find great success as an actress and singer in Hollywood, Justice is still a mama’s girl at heart. During the interview for her Latina cover story, the starlet talked about her Friday night dinners with her madrecita, Serene. “We eat together and we laugh together, and it’s honestly my favorite day of the week,” said Justice.
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She Can Hold Her Own Opposite Chelsea Handler
Last October, the Latina superstar shined in her first leading role on the big screen. Justice starred opposite Chelsea Handler, Johnny Knoxville and Jane Levy in the coming-of-age-comedy-with-surprising-heart Fun Size. And she earned raves (and bigger laughs than comedy vets Handler and Knoxville) for her performance as Wren, a teenager forced to look after her little brother on Halloween night.
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She Buys Second-Hand Clothing
The paparazzi may have better luck spotting Justice on Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue than Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. That’s because Justice prefers gently used clothing. "I honestly don't shop that much. But when I do, I love vintage stores,” Justice tells Teen.com. “I love vintage band t-shirts and stuff. And I love second-hand stores."
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She Isn’t Afraid of Hairy Roles with a Positive Message
In 20120, Justice was the leading werelady in Nickelodeon’s The Boy Who Cried Werewolf. Starring as the main protagonist opposite Brooke Shields, she portrayed the nerdy and socially awkward Jordan Sands, a girl who transforms into a werewolf after a freak lab accident. Despite the excessive hair growth, Justice’s character ends up becoming a confident girl, proving that you can be different and still be popular.
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She Had an Entire Show Tailor-Made for Her
During her time portraying Lola Martinez on Zoey 101, Justice worked closely with the show’s creator Dan Schneider for three years, enough time to see her potential to headline her own show. “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 series, which drew to a close earlier this month after four seasons on the network, premiered with 5.7 million views on March 27, 2010, earning it the distinction of being the second-highest rated premiere for a live-action Nickelodeon series.
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She’s a Barbie Girl
There’s no denying Victoria Justice is a doll as a person. But she’s also a doll in the literal sense of the word. In 2011, children's entertainment company Spin Master released the Singing Tori Doll, which resembled Justice’s Victorious character Tori Vega. The doll, dressed in a sparkly outfit and holding a microphone, even sings the Nickelodeon show’s hit theme song “Make It Shine.”
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The Girl Can Sing!
Sure, she’s earned acclaim for popular Victorious-related singles like “Beggin’ On Your Knees,” “Countdown” and “L.A. Boyz.” But it was Justice’s rendition of Vanessa Carlton’s Grammy-nominated single “A Thousand Miles” that first made people take notice of her mad skills as a singer. Justice released as the cover as her debut single back in 2007, while she was filming Zoey 101. “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,” said Justice in a 2010 interview. “It's something that's just been in my blood.”
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She Believes in “Girl Power!”
Back in 2010, Justice proved to be a “champion for girl power” when she joined Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation charitable campaign aimed at uniting girls to change the world. "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,” said Justice about joining the campaign. “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." As a champion, Justice even had the opportunity to trek to developing countries to see firsthand the positive impact the Girl Up-supported programs are having on girls in those communities.
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She’s a Singing Florence Nightingale
She may not be a registered nurse, but Justice does have a get-well prescription for ailing children… Music! Last summer, the Nickelodeon star joined the Children's National Medical Center’s “Music Makes It Better” campaign, which aims to bring music, arts and other programs to sick children receiving hospital care. As part of her involvement, Justice appeared in PSAs to raise awareness and funds for the campaign.
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She’s Hot Down Under
Could Victoria Justice be the “Girl on Fire” Alicia Keys sings about in her latest single? Back in 2011, the starlet proved that she’s an international star when won the Hottest Hottie award at the Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards. It was the first international award for Justice, who was also nominated for Fave TV star and the Super Fresh Award.
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She’s a Good Big Sister
Justice is no diva, even though she’s the star of her own Nickelodeon show. In fact, she’s still a selfless older sister. “I took a theatre make-up course class when I was younger, and I helped my younger sister do her make-up as a Zombie bride for Halloween,” said Justice in an MTV interview. “I carried my makeup kit around to do her touch-ups!”
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She Has a No. Billboard Song
There was no need for a third as the second time proved to be the charm for Justice on the Billboard charts. Following the release of her Victorious theme song “Make It Shine,” the Nickelodeon star released “Freak the Freak Out,” an electro-pop song about getting the attention of a distant boyfriend. The song may have only peaked at No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it made it all the way to No. 1 on the Heatseekers Songs chart, which highlights the sales by new and developing musical recording artists.
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She’s Helping Dress the Less Fortunate
Last year, Justice earned a Do Something Awards nomination for serving as the spokesperson for the Donate My Dress campaign, a crusade aimed at encouraging girls throughout the country to donate their prom and special occasion dresses to underprivileged girls. Justice even made her own contribution to the cause by donating the dress she wore to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.
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She’s already headlined her own television show (Victorious) and appeared in her first leading role on the big screen (Fun Size). But it’s just the start of what Justice hopes will be a long and successful career, one that she hopes includes sharing the screen with the Oscar-winner regarded as “one of the most talented actors of all time.” “One of my goals is to act alongside Meryl Streep,” said Justice in an MTV interview.
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She’s Got Game
Before wrapping production on her award-winning Nickelodeon series, Justice helped launch her show-themed video game, the adventure and exploration game called Victorious: Taking The Lead, last November. “Well, it’s a game where you can play as either my character, Tori, or Jade,” said Justice in an interview with Female First. “And it’s kind of an interactive game where the player can explore Hollywood Arts [High School] and there’s also rhythm and dance aspects based on the music from the show.”
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She Doesn’t Claim to Be Perfect
She may be a talented actress, singer and dancer, but Justice isn’t afraid to admit she’s not perfect. The half-Puerto Rican starlet knows there are things she could definitely work on. “I’m not good at waking up in the morning, I’m definitely not a morning person,” admits Justice to Female First. “Time management too, I tend to run a little bit behind and lose track of time. Running! I’m not good at running either.”
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She Believes in Connecting with Her Fans
She’s a social media darling with nearly 11 million followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It’s really Justice’s way of staying “super involved” with her fans. “It’s not because I want to share everything of my life with the world because I think it’s so interesting, because I really don’t,” admits Justice to Female First about her social media activity. “I just like to keep in contact with my fans and keep them up to date because they’re so supportive and amazing and I feel like honestly, it’s the least I can do. To be able to reply to them, and answer their questions makes them really happy, which makes me happy. So, I’m more than happy to do it.”