Jade Pettyjohn is continually proving to be one of the brightest young rising stars in Hollywood today. Her career began early on in her life when she booked a national commercial. She has since gone on guest starring for hit shows like The Mentalist, United States of Tara, The Cape, Grimm and Criminal Minds. Jade also starred in the film Prodigal opposite Academy nominated actor, Kenneth Branagh. With every role that Jade takes on she proves time and again that she was born to be a star.
Jade landed her breakout role in 2011 when she starred as ‘McKenna’ in the feature film An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars. Along with the film, the McKenna doll was released – which continues to be the biggest annual selling doll of the American Girl franchise. Jade currently stars as ‘Summer’ on Nickelodeon’s hit television series School of Rock which recently received an Emmy-nomination in the category of “Outstanding Children’s Program” for its first season. Through her work on School of Rock, Jade continues to gain fans for both her acting and vocal talents. Jade also devotes much of her time to playing, writing and singing music. You can find her on YouTube covering songs by artists including Death Cab for Cutie, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and more. Her rich vocals mixed with a classic style will leave you wanting to hear more.
I recently spoke with Jade Pettyjohn to find out more about her life, music, and what her experience has been like as a part of the School of Rock cast.
Jade Pettyjohn Interview
TAMMY: I’ve listened to several of your covers and you have such a great voice! Who are some of your musical inspirations?
JADE PETTYJOHN: Thank you! As a music fan I have a lot of artists that inspire me. Currently I have been very inspired lyrically from Death Cab for Cutie, Lorde and Beck. But on music composition I am drawn to Etta James, White Stripes and Florence and the Machine. There is so much music out there to explore, but those guys have been floating on my playlists and spinning on my turn table a lot lately.
TAMMY: How long have you played the guitar? Do you play any other instruments as well or are there any you would love to learn to play?
JADE PETTYJOHN: I have been playing guitar for about four years now. I started off by learning piano because it seemed to be the easiest in regards to learning the theory. I then picked up the guitar, bass, tambourine (‘Summer’ who I play on the show is an expert tambourine player) and I just recently started learning drums! I think singing and guitar are my main instruments, but I would love to learn more about drums.
TAMMY: When did you first begin singing and when did you know that being a part of the entertainment industry was something that you wanted to pursue?
JADE PETTYJOHN: I’ve been raised in a very musical family. My dad plays guitar and bass, my mom likes to sing, so it was just a part of what we do. I would spend my time singing around the house, my dad pull out his guitar and we would make up songs. I think when I was about 5, I realized that I could actually pursue this as a career. From that point, I worked hard on my skills and took it seriously.
TAMMY: School of Rock looks like it would be such a fun show to be a part of. It’s a great opportunity for you to combine your acting talent with your music. What has been a highlight for you of getting to be a part of this series?
JADE PETTYJOHN: It really has been a great show to be a part of! I love that I get to come to work every day and work with some of my favorite people and do what I love. There has been so many great aspects to working on this show. I think my favorite has been working with the cast not just as a cast, but as a band. We really enjoy our band practices and recording sessions. It is a different pace than on set, a little more relaxing. On set we have a lot of fun doing what we do, but the time constraints make it a little more work than play. So band practice is nonstop fun filled music joy. On the show I only play tambourine. But in practices I sing, play the guitar or drums. We all rotate out instruments.
TAMMY: What does a typical day of filming look like for you?
JADE PETTYJOHN: A typical day of filming is always super jam packed! I usually come in the morning, get breakfast and then head straight into getting my hair and makeup done. Because I’m a minor I also have this little thing called high school, so after I’m done with hair and makeup I do school on set with rest of the cast. Then we start shooting and whenever there is down-time we go back to school. We then have lunch, where we hang out, have a jam session or explore the Paramount lot. We love walking to New York…the one on the Paramount lot that is. Then we go back to shooting. It all repeats the next day. It’s a lot of work, but the kind of work that I find enjoyable.
TAMMY: What is your favorite funny memory from the School of Rock set?
JADE PETTYJOHN: How do I pick just one? After we wrapped season one we had the stage all set up for the season finale “battle of bands.” The cast ended up having a little improv party on set after we wrapped. The crew joined us and they really know how to play as well! Who knew?!? So that stage was rotating out with all the various people we had been working with all season. Before that, I had no idea they even played, much less how amazing they played. We were probably jamming and dancing and having fun for about 4-hours solid before people started to leave to go home. Nothing like a four hour jam session!
TAMMY: What would your fans be surprised to learn about you?
JADE PETTYJOHN: That I am actually a little shy. I was terribly shy when I was younger, at least off stage. A lot of people think that performers are always “on” or something and couldn’t possibly be shy. So that’s something I have worked on.
TAMMY: You seem to be a girl who dreams big. What are some of your goals for the future as an artist?
JADE PETTYJOHN: I don’t consider it dreaming big. I think of it more like thinking big. Dreaming seems to have this idea of being in the clouds or having your goals being unreal to obtain somehow. I feel that anything is possible when you look at it as possible and work toward it. For me, I aim for a long standing career. I want to work on projects that I love and that I find rewarding or important. I want to continue working on my music sound and get my music out there as well as my acting. My goal is that my work, which means so much to me, might impact and mean something to others out there.
TAMMY: What are you currently working on and excited about?
JADE PETTYJOHN: I am excited about the Emmys. I have never gone before and our show is nominated. I am excited about some music things I have in the mix and I have a film coming out, but can’t talk about it yet.
You can find out more about Jade Pettyjohn and keep up with her latest news by visiting her website at jadepettyjohn.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram.