Sometimes you have to defer to the experts. So when Debby Ryan — the 19-year-old star of Disney Channel’s Jessie (Fridays at 8:30/7:30c) — stopped by TVLine’s Times Square offices, I made sure to have my twin sons on hand to do the heavy lifting. Jared and Jacob wrote their own questions; I only sprinkled some in A) to make sure we covered all the bases, and B) because they don’t teach Follow-Up Questions until fifth grade.
JARED | Can you give us some information from the rest of Season 2 of Jessie?
Yes! Well, you know that Jessie and Tony are dating, right? So you’ll start to see them kind of grow a little bit. Jessie starts to take acting classes and improv classes. Do you remember Officer Petey?
JACOB | Yeah, we already watched “Green Eyed-Monsters” (airing tonight at 8:30 pm) On Demand.
Oh, you saw it? So you saw us take the improv classes, the whole thing. Very cool. We’re total goofballs, right? That was what we did the entire time. We love to just be able to have fun with it.
JARED | Officer Petey (played by Joey Richter) is a little random.
He’s so random! And he’s kind of that way in real life. [Whispers] And so am I. So when they put a camera on us and are like, “Go,” we start doing all sorts of things. You can expect more of that, and bigger adventures, and a crossover episode. Do you watch Austin & Ally? We did one where Austin and Ally come to New York City and they hang out in our penthouse and [MASSIVE SPOILERS REDACTED, EVEN FOR KIDS. Sigh].
JACOB | Are Jessie and Tony going to break up later in the season?
Well, what fun would it be if I told you where it was going? But I will say that it’s not easy to have a relationship, especially when you’re my age. I don’t know what I want; boys my age don’t know what they want. It’s like you’ll have a favorite color, and next year you’ll have a different favorite color. Or a different favorite athlete, or video game. That’s how it is in relationships.
JARED | I hear there’s a Jessie TV-movie coming up – any information on it?
It’s all classified —Dun-dun-dun! — but it’s going to be amazing. You’re going to get to know a lot about Jessie and why she is the way she is. You’re going to see what she was like before New York City…. There’s family, there’s massive adventure, there’s a lot to overcome….
JACOB | Did you have a lot of fun working on The Suite Life on Deck?
It was a lot of fun, but it was really overwhelming. Because while you guys are really nice boys, but I happen to know a set of twins who … well, working with them was really interesting. I have an older brother and we fight, but we get over it. With these boys, you just could not catch a break! They were relentless.
JACOB | How do you feel working with young actors and actresses?
How old are you guys?
JARED | In a month we’re turning 10.
Well, my girl Skai [Jackson], who plays Zuri, is your age — though she plays 7 – and she is one of my most favorite human beings ever. And Luke is cool, huh? Cameron [Boyce] is that cool in real life, except he’s maybe cooler. And Karan [Brar], who plays Ravi, is dorky and fun….
JARED | It’s cool when Luke breakdances on the show.
He’s an amazing dancer. And you know what’s a fun fact that nobody knows? He’s an amaaazing singer. [Whispers] Like better than Justin Bieber. [Jared and Jacob dutifully grimace] It’s cool to watch these kids grow.
JACOB | How do they train the lizard [that plays Mrs. Kipling]?
Frank is a very special little actor lizard who also does kids’ birthday parties and everything…. A lot of treats are involved!
Watch a clip from this week’s Jessie, then read on for more!
MATT | What was it like voicing a character for the first time, in Secret of the Wings (a brand-new Disney Fairies movie now out on DVD/Blu-ray)?
It was a lot of fun – and kind of like learning backwards. When you act, you have the line and you create your body movement, your facial expression, your hair, your hands, based on that. But to go in and be the voice after the face and body has already [been drawn], you kind of have to match that, like a puzzle. But you still get to add personality to it.
JACOB | Which character do you play in Secret of the Wings?
I play a girl named Spike, who is friends with Tinkerbell’s long-lost sister Periwinkle, played by Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars). [Spike is the brunette in the clip below.]
MATT | But regardless of who have a scene with, you record your lines alone, right? You’re never with Lucy, or Raven-Symone, or Mae Whitman….
Yeah. I hadn’t even met Mae, who is magical and plays Tinkerbell in all of these movies, until the premiere a few days ago. It’s so funny to be in a movie with someone and interacting with them and really not ever meet or talk to them until later!
JACOB | We like music by, like, The Wanted and Tao Cruz. What music do you like?
I like alternative music, and rock ‘n’ roll…. I like everything from The Beatles to The Eagles to Strokes, White Stripes…. I personally like The Hush Sound, a band called Fun, who you might know…. I like really good lyrics, so there’s a band called 21 Pilots that I love.
MATT | The covers you’ve performed (including “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”) tend to be on the moody side. Is that your style versus more of a pop sound?
What’s great about the Disney realm is it’s all very aspirational and relatable and upbeat and positive. And while those are the stories I like to tell acting, musically I like to talk about the real world. [To Jared and Jacob] You know those days when you wake up and you’re like, “Ugh, I just hit my knee on this and I dropped something on the floor,” those days when you feel like you can’t win? Sometimes there’s nothing like being able to sing about that. The cover songs I have done are about retelling somebody else’s story my way.
MATT | I know Shonda Rhimes sought you ought for a Private Practice guest spot, and you were on The Glades this summer. What other primetime show would you like to appear on?
The Big Bang Theory has been the dream for several years, mostly because it is the classic sitcom. New Girl is also amazing, and I think doing a single-camera comedy would be really fun. I’ve been obsessed with Zooey Deschanel since Almost Famous.
JACOB | What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to not have free time. I have a home studio with three pianos, so we’re constantly writing and playing music. I also co-produce [Jessie], so that keeps me pretty busy.
MATT | OK, I was wondering if you had a producing credit.
I had kind of done the job of a co-producer on projects beforehand, including Radio Rebel, but I didn’t want my name out there as a co-producer until I felt had adequately earned it, that I was past the learning level and onto a practical business level. That’s where I feel we’re at with the second season, and I’m very humbled to have the credit.
JARED | When did you decide that you wanted to be an actress?
I was 8 when I decide d I wanted to do theater, and I was 12 when I decided that I wanted to be on TV and in movies.
JACOB | Do you have any advice for wannabe Disney Channel stars?
Dream as big as you can. It’s about storytelling, and figuring out what you want to do, what you like. For me, I love watching a good episode of TV, or a good movie, or listening to a good song, and being so stuck with it that you have to act it out or watch it again. Have you ever watched the same TV episode several times because you couldn’t get enough?
JARED | Yeah — especially with Jessie and Good Luck, Charlie.
You are saying all the right things, buddy! [She high fives ’em both.]