Joanna 'JoJo' Levesque Talks RV
The teen pop star continues her foray into the acting world
Teen pop star JoJo continues her foray into the acting world with RV. She co-stars as Robin Williams' rebellious daughter Cassie. JoJo has had a pretty distinctive career so far. She's the youngest artist to reach number one on the Billboard singles chart. That's a major accomplishment and caught me completely by surprise. She was lively and engaging during the inteRView, a pro with the press at fifteen. I'm not sure I could spell my own name at fifteen. You can also see JoJo in the recently released Aquamarine.
How did you get the nickname JoJo?
JoJo: Yeah, something I had forever. People really didn't call me Joanna. They always called me Jo or BooBoo or JoJo, so it was always other than Joanna. I don't know.
What are the challenges acting against Robin Williams? I imagine it's like holding your own against a tornado?
JoJo: Something I accepted early on in the shoot was that you can't try to be on the same level. You can't compete with him. He is Robin Williams. I just try to be the best that I can be. He is basically just the way that he is in the movies. He is just so full of life, he's like manic and all over the place and Robin Williams, that's just who he is.
Did you get him to laugh?
JoJo: I tried, but he's so funny, nothing shocks him. He humored me I guess.
Was it hard to keep up with him?
JoJo: He totally works with me. Especially when we're on camera and stuff. He would go off script, but he would always come back to a safe place where I knew where to jump in with my line. That's what's so great about him. He would never leave me or any of the actors in a place where they were lost and didn't know where to go from there.
Have you gone on long trips like this with your family?
JoJo: Not with my family, but I've been in tour buses so it's kind of like a souped up version of an RV. So I know what its like to be in a confined space with a lot of people and one toilet.
How many times did you have to do that scene where you picked up your brother and threw him on the other chair in the bus?
JoJo: Those were my favorite things to do. I'm not going to lie, I did that six times and I kept asking to do it again. It was fun.
Are you in good shape? Or does he weigh like six pounds?
JoJo: He weighs like 60 pounds.
Can you talk about the audition process?
JoJo: I did like five different auditions. I had to really fight for this role. Another girl was already cast and then they cast me. I was in Australia, shooting Aquamarine and then I sent in a tape for the role and then I sent in another one. Then I had two satellite meetings with Barry [Sonnenfeld]. He had me read like so many different times and I really thought I wasn't going to get it. Then I found out that I got it. I met Robin and Barry at the same time. He really put me at ease because I was really neRVous to meet him. He's such a normal person and just made me feel really comfortable.
Can you relate to your character?
JoJo: I'm like her in some ways. I would hope I'm a little bit nicer than her because she kind of handles her aggression in a mean way. She's pretty mean to her dad, but we both turn to music when we're annoyed or frustrated or feel like our family is crazy, so I turn to my I-Pod as well, just like she did.
What's on your I-Pod?
JoJo: Actually, I left my I-Pod on at the hotel. So what is currently, literally playing is D'Angelo, his album "Voodoo".
Tell us about your music career?
JoJo: My first album came out two years ago. I've only had one and I was the youngest artist to ever have a number one single on billboard. It went over platinum, over a million copies, and I'm working on my second one right now. It was hard for me to do two movies and step away from the music, because it was what I've been doing forever and what I love.
The youngest artist ever to be number one, that's pretty interesting. How does that make you feel?
JoJo: It is really cool. I really didn't believe it when I first read it. It just makes we want to have that number one album. I have the number one single, so for my next album I want the album to go number one. That is something that is driving me. Just knowing that I have much more to accomplish, but I was thirteen when that happened.
Were you really exited when you found out you got to sing in the movie too?
JoJo: No, because I wanted to keep music and acting separate. I knew I had to sing off key to my MP3 player and I thought that would be funny. But then Barry, because he's quirky and he's funny and he likes to do weird things, he added that scene at the end where we all sing Route 66. I didn't know how it would turn out. It ended up being funny so that's fine.
Do you prefer acting or singing?
JoJo: I like both of them, but I learned early on with music video. You look into the camera and you're supposed to make eye contact. Then I realized with acting you shouldn't do that because it will freak everybody out.
Do you feel any outside pressure to reach number one with your next album?
JoJo: No, I'm kind of on the independent label, Blackground Records, distributed by Universal. They're really cool. We're just being artistic and taking time. They know that I'm putting out this second album, I'm only fifteen and it will come out when I'm turning sixteen. I want to wait until I'm eighteen and put out another one. They know that already, so I like to take my time and just put everything into a record.
Where do you see your future going?
JoJo: People have said so you're like a singing actress or an acting singer, but why can't I just be like a person who wants to do more than one thing. Kristin Chenoweth is awesome at it too. She has successfully done both and Broadway, which I think is so cool. I have so much respect for her. She's really, really talented and I think that as long as you can do more than one thing and you keep your head on straight and stuff that that's fine. But as far as choosing one over the other, I don't really want to choose. I like them both.
RV hits theaters this Friday and is rated PG.