Schooling is a huge discussion when you have young performers in show business.
In today’s world, there are many different options: public, private, home school and on set schooling.
Did you know that, for theater, requirements for on set tutors vary by state and Equity agreement?
The SAG-AFTRA Theatrical/Television contract requires the producer to supply a teacher if your child is working three or more consecutive days.
I spoke with teenagers SIXX ORANGE of Amazon’s The Kicks and HALEY TJU of Nickelodeon’s Bella and the Bulldogs to find out about their home schooling, auditions as well as lots of other hot topics regarding young performers!
Twitter and Instagram @SixxOrange
Amazon The Kicks Twitter: @TheKicksTV
Tell us about your name Sixx Orange.
Yes, Sixx Orange is my real name. The name came from, you guessed it, the 90’s TV show Blossom!!! Blossom’s best friend’s name was Six. My father is a 3rd and always had issues with name mix-ups. Blossom was my dad’s favorite TV show so he said from the very first time he watched the show he knew if he was going to have a kid he was going to name him or her Sixx. As you can imagine, there is no name mix-ups for me hahaha.
Did you have to join an actor’s union such as SAG-AFTRA before / during / after The Kicks?
No, it was not required for this project. There is plenty of non-union work out there and The Kicks was one of them.
How did you get the job on Amazon’s The Kicks?
This auditioning process was truly one of the best experiences in my life. I got the script the night before my first audition and when I found out that it was based on Alex Morgan’s books I went insane. My auditioning process started in September 2014. I then got a callback maybe a week later and I just thought to myself how lucky I am. Going in to my callback I met the director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum and we just connected. After the callback I got the call to go to the Amazon building in Santa Monica and do my final audition for the role of Devin. At that point I knew I had to bring all that I had in me to the table. About a week later I got another call right before soccer practice that I had gotten the role. I cried, screamed and called my family right away to share the news. I will forever remember that day. From that point I had several more meetings that involved what they call chemistry reads with other actors like for the roles of my parents and brother. It was such a cool experience.
Did you have an agent, manager and publicist before The Kicks?
I was discovered by my agents who then turned me on to my manager in March 2014 which was before I even made the move to California. It’s a total blessing to have the team I have. We decided to bring on a publicist during The Kicks airing for all of July 2015.
What do you do for fun?
There are a couple things I do for fun. I play soccer on a club team three times a week which has always been a true passion of mine. I am learning to play guitar currently and I am having a blast! I also enjoy hanging out with my friends and going hiking.
If you could learn anything in the world, what would it be?
How to cook! My dad and I know enough about cooking to get by. But we are far from chef status. I am super obsessed with watching cooking shows on the food network and I would love to be able to create fun healthy delicious dishes every day morning to night with no limits.
How has being in The Kicks changed your “big picture” life? How has it changed your every day life?
Being on The Kicks made me love acting 100 times more than I did when I first moved to California if you can believe that. It has opened me up to the art and medium even more than I could have imagined. I’ve grown so much working along side the awesome cast of The Kicks and to be so lucky to be directed by Liz Allen Rosenbaum. Liz took me under her wing and taught me so much along with always protecting me. I don’t feel like there is a role out there that I couldn’t study, conquer and have a great time with.
It hasn’t really changed my every day life. I’m still me and still like doing all the things I did before The Kicks.
How did you get verified on Twitter?
My publicist is the one who got me verified on Twitter. It was my idea to get verified. I’m not sure about the process. I know it takes some time.
What amazed you most about the Taylor Swift concert? Do you think Taylor Swift sets a good or bad example for young performers?
Well let’s start with, Taylor Swift is amazing! I’ve seen her three times and she never let’s me down. What amazed me most about the 1989 concert I went to at the Staples Center was how she manages to sing, dance and play several different instruments for over two hours. How incredible is that? I think Taylor is great example for young performers. She is so inspiring and so positive. She started from the bottom and worked her way up to where she is today while spreading nothing but positive messages.
What’s the most important life lesson you’ve learned EVER and who did you learn it from?
My favorite life lesson I have been taught was by my soccer coach in Maryland, Coach John Sis. He told me “You get out what you put in”. I think about that quote every single day because it reminds me that in order to succeed in my goals I need to work hard and stay focused and then it all falls into place.
What’s next for you in terms of your acting career?
So far my plan is to stay really focused on acting. Of course I will always play soccer. Singing, music, and dancing are big interests but I am truly in love with acting. Acting is something that I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to keep perfecting my craft and become the best actor I can possibly be.
On The Kicks, did you have your own trailer / dressing room?
I did have my own trailer and I am not going to lie … I was kind of in love with it! I turned Christmas music on and decorated it with some of my stuff to make it my own.
Since you’re a young performer, which adults stayed on set with you?
My dad stayed with me on set which was really awesome because my experience was shared with him as well. I don’t think I would have been able to get through it with out him.
Did you ever take acting lessons?
I do and am currently still taking acting lessons/classes with Marnie Cooper. Marnie has taught me so much and everytime I study with her I am always leave with something new. My agents sent me to Marnie just to see if I liked her coaching and I knew from the first lesson that she is who I need to get me to the next level.
Tell us about school.
Once I moved to California I became home schooled. I am going to be doing home schooling again this year for 8th grade. It’s real convenient and flexible with my schedule. When I filmed The Kicks I had an on set teacher which is required.
Exclusive Pic of Sixx Orange for @NYCastings
Who directed you on The Kicks? Tell us a behind the scenes story about the Director giving you instruction.
The director of The Kicks as I mentioned earlier was Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum. I could NOT have asked for a better director for my first job/time on set! She made me feel so comfortable and had me so prepared. There was a scene where I needed to look like I was coming up stairs, except there wasn’t any stairs. So to make it believable I had to be breathing like I just ran up the steps so she had me do 30 jumping jacks and then start the scene. That is just one of many stories of Liz and I. She will always be special to me.
Did your family move out to CA just so you could pursue acting?
Just my dad and I moved out to California so I could pursue my dream of acting. Right after I finished my school year in Maryland we packed up and hit the road. My dad uprooted everything to give me a shot at my dream.
Tell us about your charity, Sixty-Sixx.
I came up with Sixty-Sixx in the 6th grade. I was taking a class called Passport and we learned all about the world and the different cultures. We did a unit on El Salvador and I read that the kids loved soccer there. They would play barefoot and use balled up trash as their soccer ball. That really didn’t sit well with me. I thought to myself, I know I have at least five soccer balls just sitting in my room and like four pairs of soccer cleats in a bag not being used and these kids are playing barefoot and with trash. I feel like these kids have the same amount of passion and love for the sport as I do. Soccer gives hope and opportunity. So they deserve the right equipment. So I decided to collect new and used soccer balls and cleats for kids in need. Basically what I do a few times a year is set up events to collect the equipment once I’ve figured out my next destination.
Do you have any advice for young performers?
I think my main advice to young performers is to just go for your dreams. No matter who tells you that you can’t, just ignore them and believe in yourself because at the end of the day you have to be happy with you.
You play Pepper on Nickelodeon’s Bella and the Bulldogs. Tell us about your audition, any callbacks and where you were when you found out you got the part.
Auditioning for Bella and the Bulldogs was definitely a gratifying experience. I auditioned with Brec Bassinger and Lilimar who play Sophie and Bella. It was immediately clear that we had chemistry. The whole process was long and included many callbacks but it paid off in the end. I think I was at home doing homework when my mom told me I booked the role. I was shocked and so excited. It felt like a dream come to true to be a part of a network that I grew up watching.
You got your start in show business at age four in a Pizza Hut commercial and then just kept on going. When you were younger, did you realize that you were on television? At what point did you realize that you go to auditions and may or may not get the job?
I was aware that I was on television, but at that age I don’t think I truly understood how expansive television was, and still is. I’ve always been pretty aware that the whole point of auditioning is to hopefully book the job but I always try to remember that I do it because I love it and because it’s fun. I think in order to be in this business you have to have a certain level of resilience and passion.
Bella and the Bulldogs blurs the boundaries between gender stereotypes and reinforces that girls can do anything and be anything they want to be. As a girl, what are your thoughts on this?
I think this is an important message for all girls of all ages. Girls sometimes get flack for being vulnerable but vulnerability isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength. I love that this show demonstrates how girls can not only keep up with the guys but also be invaluable in their own way. The boys and girls on this show learn from each other and ultimately respect one another.
You have an older sister, Brianne Tju, who is also in show business, and you’re the youngest out of five children. What do your other siblings think about you being an actor?
Luckily I have some of the best sisters in the world. They’re extremely supportive, inspiring and they keep me grounded.
Do you do your own Twitter and Instagram? How does social media help you as an actor?
I do manage my own Twitter and Instagram. Occasionally my sister Brianne helps me with Twitter, because two brains are better than one. I think social media is important as an actor because you can communicate and be more personable with fans. It’s really incredible when someone tells me they relate to Pepper or are inspired by the show.
Are you more of an indoor person or outdoor person? Elaborate.
I am an indoor and outdoor person. I really enjoy being active outside. I like to hike or go to the beach. Indoors, I love to have movie nights, chill, and cuddle with my dogs.
Is exercise an important part of your daily/weekly routine?
I think exercise is important because it makes you feel good. Don’t get me wrong, some days I slack off, but I try to stay active by going on adventures with my friends or kickboxing. It’s important to keep it fun and mix it up.
You’re a fresh face to Nickelodeon. What’s it like being “the new girl” there?
The Nick family has been so welcoming. I had a few guest star roles on Nickelodeon shows in the past so I feel like I kind of eased my way into the inner circle. Brec and Lilimar were the first people I met from the show. We were all part of a Nickelodeon Groundling’s work shop and quickly became friends. The fact that we all ended up on the same show feels like it was just meant to be.
Do you have a dressing room / trailer on Bella?
I have a dressing room on the show that with a little closet and a bathroom. I decorated it with some chalk board wall paper, a rug, some pictures, candles, and other trinkets. It has a couch but I don’t normally have time to take naps between school and work.
What’s it like being photographed on the red carpet? What is your day like for that?
Getting ready for an event is definitely a process. I usually wake up and go to LA to get my makeup and hair done by professionals. I try to plan my outfits as far in advance as possible but sometimes I end up picking it out the day before hoping it’ll work out. Other times when I’m getting styled by the Nickelodeon team I know I’m in good hands and I tend to feel more at ease. I’m not one for showy entrances so I usually just arrive in my parents car or with one of my friends. Events can be very nerve wracking but you just have to relax, have fun, and be confident. I go home the same way I arrived and I always try to make sure I wash my makeup as soon as possible.
Give us the details on your schooling.
I’m homeschooled. When we are working one the show I do school on set with a teacher. We have a few teachers because there are seven of us in the cast. It’s nice doing school with the rest of the cast, because although it’s not traditional, I feel like we still get to have that real classroom experience.
What is a gallery shoot?
Gallery shoots are when you take photos that can be used for more than one purpose. The photos can be used to promote the project, in magazines, or for holiday specials. That way you have a “gallery” to choose from without having to do a new shoot every time.
You recently co-hosted the fash bash in Baltimore. What is that, who attended (is it for fans?) and who asked you to be there? Was that a paid gig or built into your Nick contract that you have to do appearances? How’d you get to Baltimore? Who paid for flight, hotel and food?
Co-hosting the fashion show in Baltimore was incredible. We were invited by GL to co-host and we were more than happy to oblige. Girl’s Life and Nickelodeon hosted our stay and travel. I’m so lucky to be able to travel with my friends for work. It’s definitely one of my favorite perks of the job. The event was like a mini convention for the fans to talk about fashion, the magazine, and Bella and The Bulldogs.
Tell us about volunteering at your mom’s hospital, participating in walks for St. Jude, and donating your time to charities that provide for underprivileged children around the world.
I love being able to give back and be hands on. I’ve volunteered at the hospital my mom works at for the last few years. I actually learned how to make balloon animals because of it! I tend to gravitate towards charities that help children. I believe that these kids have the power to make the world a better place and it’s important that we do what we can to make sure they have the opportunities and tools to make an impact on the world.
What advice do you have for young performers?
Always stay positive, be determined, be unique, be resilient, be supportive of one another, and most importantly be patient.
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