Jillian, you started your acting career at a very young age, what inspired you to try acting?
When I was little, I used to put on shows for my family. I did some small roles and solos in elementary school concerts, which really gave me the acting bug. I asked my mom for acting lessons, and she found me a private coach, Pamela Sheehan. Once I started lessons with her, I ended up getting cast in an equity theatre Panto, the only child in a cast of 12. That really started the ball rolling!
What actor/actress are you influenced by?
I’m a big Grey’s Anatomy fan, so I’m really inspired by Ellen Pompeo.
You are known for your role on the Disney XD series “Walk the Prank,” which can also be seen on Disney channel. Can you explain the process of how you got this role?
I was signed by my manager after attending a seminar in Hollywood the summer of 2014. She encouraged me to come out for pilot season early the next year, so my mom and I came out for two months. Right at the end of our stay, I auditioned for Walk the Prank. The next day I saw producers and found out that evening that I would be testing for the role of Bailey. A few weeks later, I attended a mix-and-match with three other girls going for the role and some boys going for the male leads. That evening, I was told it was down to one other girl and me. Several weeks later, I got the call from producers saying I got the role.
Can you explain the character you portray?
Bailey is the only girl in a group of four pranksters (who air their real-life pranks online). She is confident and a little bit sassy, She likes to make fun of the boys–but she’s also a really good friend when they need it.
What do you think makes this show standout from other prank shows that have been aired on other networks?
Walk the Prank is half-scripted and half-reality (because the characters pull the pranks on REAL people). The pranks are completely crazy and elaborate!
What’s it like being the only female lead on the show?
Well, I usually take a lot longer in hair and make-up than the boys! It’s fun being the only girl in the cast, because I feel like I have four brothers taking care of me. We’re like a family.
What’s your favorite part about being on “Walk The Prank”?
Everything! Where else can you prank people and not get in trouble for it?
What’s your favorite part about being on set?
Honestly? The food rocks! We have an awesome caterers who feeds us breakfast and lunch everyday, and we also have “Crafty,” a group of guys who keep us stocked with every snack imaginable throughout the day.
How do you and the other cast members get along? Do you guys have any rituals before filming?
I love hanging out with my castmates–we’re great friends. We don’t have any rituals before filming, but we spend a lot of time off set together, too.
What’s an average week like on set?
Some weeks we do pranks, which are at different locations like malls, restaurants or houses. Some weeks we shoot scripted scenes, which are done in the studio. Every day we have to go to the hair and make-up trailer to get ready. For some pranks, I will be in the make-up chair for several hours while our special-effects artist turns me into things like a vampire, alien or a girl with no face! In between shooting, we have to do school with our set teacher. On scripted weeks, I have to go home and learn lines for the next day.
In addition to acting, you are a passionate singer and guitarist breaking into music with an impressive vocal range and unique sound. What inspired you to try singing?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t singing. I grew up in a musical household, so I’ve been singing my whole life. My parents have a band, and I started doing some guest appearances with them around 9 years old. I really love it.
How did you get into guitar?
We had several guitars laying around the house, and one day (about a year and a half ago), I picked one up, then started looking at chords online and trying to play them. After I picked it up, I never put it down!
What other instruments do you play?
I play piano and ukelele, and I played saxophone and clarinet for several years.
What would you say is your favorite instrument? Why?
The guitar is definitely my favorite instrument–it feels like it’s just a part of me!
Did you want to be an actor and singer when you were little, or did that develop later on?
I always wanted to be a singer, but the desire to act built over time as I grew up.
How would you describe your musical style?
I would say I have a singer-songwriter style.
What’s your favorite song to perform live?
“Bring It Back” by Shawn Mendes.
Are there any artists that you look up to right now?
Right now, I like listening to Tori Kelly’s music. I think she is an amazing musician, and I’m learning so much from her guitar and vocal styles. I also like Shawn Mendes, Ed Sheeran, Meghan Trainor and Adele.
Have you ever been starstruck by anyone you’ve met so far?
I met Meghan Trainor when she was signing CDs last year. She was SO nice and had a compliment for every person who came up to her.
Can we expect any new music soon? If so can you spill some details about them?
I’m hoping to put out an EP later this year. A few of my songs are about self-empowerment.
Are there any other projects in the works you can tell us about?
Working on a series, you don’t have much opportunity to do other projects, but I’m hoping to do something over the summer while we’re not filming.
What are your friends and parents thoughts on your career in singing and acting?
My family and friends have all been really supportive. Because I’m from the East Coast, I have a whole group of people rooting me on from the other side of the country!
What goals have you set out for yourself in your career and in your personal life?
Professionally, I want to make music that makes people feel something, and I actually want to be in a horror movie! Personally, I hope to inspire others to be themselves and don’t be afraid to try something new.
What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment so far in your career as a singer and actor?
I feel really fortunate to be a on a Disney show!
Overall, how has this whole acting and singing career experience been for you?
It all happened so quickly that it still feels a little bit like I’m going to wake up from some crazy dream. I’m just having so much fun.
Do you have any advice for anyone trying to make it as a singer or actor?
I have a lot of friends who are super talented but haven’t caught a break yet. You have to keep trying if you really love it.
You also do a lot of cover songs. What’s the process of choosing a cover song for you to sing?
If I really love the song, it doesn’t matter what style it is or if it’s sung by a girl or a guy. I just figure out the chords and learn it.
What was your favorite cover song to record?
I’m a huge Beatles fan, so recording “Come Together” in the studio was pretty awesome.
What social media platform do you use most to stay connected to your fans?
I stay connected through Instagram (@Jilliansheaspaeder) and Musical.ly (@Jillian.Spaeder)
How do you want your relationship to be with your fans?
I consider my fans my friends, so I hope they treat me that way.
Does your fan base have a name?
Not yet, ha ha!
What was the craziest fan encounter you have had?
I was at a birthday party, and an entire Little League baseball team came up to me. They all wanted separate pictures!
Do you have any other talents other than singing and acting?
I am a master slime-maker!
What 5 words would you use to describe yourself?
Creative. Crazy. Friendly. Musical. Energetic.
If your life was a movie, what would be the title?
From Coast to Coast: One Girl’s Story
Who would you want to play you?
Well, since I’m only 14 I have to pick someone younger than me, so I’ll suggest my friend Ariana Greenblatt, from Stuck in the Middle!
Do you have any last things you want to tell your fans?
Thanks for watching the show, and please buy my album when it comes out!
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview!