At 20, Victoria Justice has money, fame and fans, thanks to a starring role on the Nickelodeon sitcom "Victorious." But the Florida native still doesn't have her driver's license, a result of spending her teen years focused on work.
"I've been on Nickelodeon since I was 12," Justice, who also acted on "Zoey 101," said. "Pretty much all of my teenage years have been spent on that network. I'm really curious to see what's next for me."
Recently, Justice's focus has turned from TV ("Victorious" aired its series finale in February) to music. While Justice, who performs at Pier Six Pavilion on Friday, recorded songs for three "Victorious" soundtracks, she released her first song separate from the kid-brand last month.
"Gold," the first single from Justice's forthcoming debut album, is a song about a friendship that should be more romantic. Although she didn't write the song, Justice says the lyrics reflect her attitudes on dating.
"You have to establish a good friendship and let it blossom into something more," she said.
The song is forward ("If you want me like I want you then man up and make your move," goes the chorus) but far from racy. As is often the case with stars who grew up in front of the camera, Justice says the material on her new album (which does not have a release date) is more mature than "Victorious" songs but "not anything risque or scandalous."
"I take pride in the fact that people consider me to be a good role model. I'm happy to do that," Justice said. "I'm not looking to shock anyone or go crazy with my solo music. That's not who I am anyway. At the end of the day, I'm making music for me and I hope people like it."
Justice answers questions like someone who has had plenty of media training. Throughout our talk, she replied in broad terms that revealed little insight into the personality behind the popular Victoria Justice brand. When asked why "Gold" was the right first single, Justice didn't have a passionate backstory for the song.
"Honestly, I was kind of torn between 'Gold' and this other song I wrote called 'Shake,'" she said. "I was going back and forth with my label about that. I guess we all got on the same page about 'Gold.' I don't know. It's a fun, pop summer jam and my label really believed in the song."
Justice, who has writing credits on "Victorious" soundtracks, says "Gold" is the only song on the album that she didn't have a hand in writing. She views this album as a way of expressing herself through different sounds. It will fall under the category of pop, Justice says, but the album will have elements of other genres she enjoys. One song has a singer-songwriter vibe, she says, while "Gold" has a hip-hop influence.
"I do enjoy the bridge [of 'Gold'] because I get a little gangsta with it," Justice said with a laugh.
With a tour ending next month and no acting job to return to, Justice plans to focus on being "a normal person for a little bit, not so crazy and hectic" this fall. Afterward, she'll return to the studio to continue work on her album. (Justice says she's already worked with Toronto pop hitmakers The Messengers.) She also plans on reading scripts to find her next acting project. As an actress and singer, many possibilities remain open to Justice, which could be the most thrilling aspect of all to her.
"It's kind of an open book right now, which is exciting," she said.
If you go
Victoria Justice performs July 26 at Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. in the Inner Harbor. Big Time Rush will also perform. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $49-$69. Call 410-783-4189 or go to piersixpavilion.com.