Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Interview: Jade Pettyjon of the New American Girls Movie: McKenna Shoots for the Stars

posted by Nell Minow

I absolutely loved the new American Girls movie, McKenna: Shoots For The Stars.  Based on the stories about the American Girl of the Year doll for 2012, a young gymnast. So it was a treat to get to interview the girl who plays McKenna, Jade Pettyjohn.  Her co-stars include Nia Vardelos of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” who plays her mother, and real-life gymnastics champion Cathy Rigby, who plays her coach.  In the movie, McKenna’s challenges include an injury and a learning disability but her family and friends provide a lot of support.  I especially appreciated the way that kids with disabilities are portrayed — in addition to McKenna’s learning issues, her tutor is in a wheelchair — it is frank and sympathetic but not at all condescending or marginalizing.

YouTube Preview Image

I have one copy of the DVD to give away!  If you want to enter, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with “McKenna” in the subject line and tell me your favorite doll.  Don’t forget your address!  (US addresses only.)  I will pick a winner on July 28.

What was your audition like? And how did it feel to get the part?

It wasn’t a gymnastics movie when I did the audition.  They didn’t want to give away the idea, so I thought it was a dance movie.  They gave me lines to memorize and had me read them with the casting director.  I was in the car when I found out I got the job and so I couldn’t jump up and down but I was super-excited!  And it shot in Canada and that was really exciting because I had never been out of the country before, so that made it even better.

My favorite thing in the movie is the way it portrayed the friendships between the girls, even those of different ages and those who were competing against each other. Are your friends like that?

My friends don’t have as much drama!  But I liked that the characters in the movie all made up in the end and were better friends.  And the girls on the film had a lot of fun together on set and off set.  We would invite each other to where we were staying and watch movies and have classes with my mom and we celebrated Canada Day and watched the fireworks!

It was great to see disabled characters in the movie.  Do you have disabled friends?

I do.  I was  in a group called Kids on Stage for a Better World and one of the girls was in a wheelchair.

What surprised you about working on the film?

I knew gymnastics was hard but I did not know how much hard work and dedication it takes.  I was amazed by it.  I did a little bit before.  I could do cartwheels and a few things but they flew me out a few weeks before so I could learn the gymnastics.  One thing me and my character have in common is that we both love to make something come out right and work until it is perfect — for me it’s acting and for her it’s gymnastics.

What movies do you like?

It changes but right now I love “We Bought a Zoo.”  And I love “The Help.”  And the “Step Up” movies.  I am so excited for the new one!

You wore some great clothes in this movie!

I loved my characters outfits and stuff.  They were amazing!  I loved the dress at the end.  But it was really hectic on set and I had seven or eight costume changes in one day!

Did Cathy Rigby give you any pointers?

She is so amazing!  She is my role model.  I love her!  She helped with double cartwheels and splits — it was really cool to work with her.

What’s the best advice you ever got about acting?

It is really important to understand every word in the script.  I’ve learned a lot of new vocabulary words that way!

What do you want people to learn from this movie?

I want them to learn that it is important to have balance, a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  You can’t do just one thing because you might stop loving it and getting fun out of it.

(photo credit: Jessica Pettyjohn)



Previous Posts

Trailer: Days and Nights With Katie Holmes and Allison Janney
Inspired by Chekhov's "The Seagull," this is the story of a weekend at a country house that includes a famous actress, her discontented son, and people who love the wrong people and are angry at each other -- sometimes at the same time. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEs6vXztmBM[/youtub

posted 8:00:41am Sep. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in "Serena"
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence re-team in "Serena," which looks very intriguing but does not yet have a US release date. Stay tuned. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/-wFHiZHZVaU?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:35am Sep. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Contest: Win a DVD of Ella the Elephant
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PL7Eup7JXScZz_ZAyJKN2XMIdAVp-n3iCW" frameborder="0"] Join Ella the Elephant and her kindhearted friends in this all-new animated series from Disney Junior featuring 8 charming episodes. Elephant Island is home to many

posted 3:37:58pm Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Kellie Pickler Joins the Veggie Tales in Beauty and the Beet
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h9mcbvBvE0[/youtube] Country star Kellie Pickler joins the cast in "Beauty and the Beet," from the Veggie Tales folks, coming out October 14, 2014. (With a name like that, it was just a question of time!) BEAUTY AND THE BEET, a brand-new VeggieTales mus

posted 3:30:42pm Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: Baby Got Class
A great video for Back to School from the hilarious Holderness family! [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/s56-Ta35JRk?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:33:19am Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.