Ashley Argota: Singer, Actress . . . Smarty Pants?
Last month, we got the exclusive from Keke Palmer (who plays the title character in the Nickelodeon show True Jackson, VP), when she visited the Scholastic Store to read to her fans. And now, we've got more from behind-the-scenes at True Jackson, VP. This time we're bringing you an interview with Ashley Argota, the actress who plays True's best friend (and assistant at Mad Style), Lulu.
Q: Where were you when you learned that you got the role in True Jackson, VP?
Ashley: I was home taking a science test — I'm home schooled. So I was working on a science test and I heard the phone ring, and I knew it was my agent because I'd been waiting all weekend for the call. Because my last callback was that Friday, and my agent was like, “Okay, you'll probably get the call sometime next week.” And I was like, “Okay.” So when the phone rang, I knew it was them and I was really, really scared to pick up the phone, and I was like, “I don't know if this is good news or bad news.” So I picked up and I heard her say, “Is everyone there?” And I was like, “What do you mean everyone?” And apparently my manager was on the phone too. So I put the phone on speaker and my mom came in the room. And my manager and my agent at the same time went, “You got it!” And there was a lot of screaming that happened after that. My manager on the phone was crying, and I was screaming my lungs out. And I had a full battery on my phone at the beginning of the day, but because I called so many people and told them, I had absolutely no more battery. It was terrible.
Q: No bars!
Ashley: [laughs] No bars.
Q: That must have been a really exciting moment.
Ashley: It was. I remember what time it was because I happened to look at the clock — it was 12:21 when I found out.
[Carly] I love when you look at a digital clock and there's some fun combination of numbers. My favorite is 12:34. And, if you look at the clock at exactly 11:11, you're supposed to make a wish.
Q: Now, did you know Keke before, or did you just meet her on the audition?
Ashley: I didn't know Keke beforehand. I'd seen her . . . I went to some award show and she was there and I'd seen her, but I hadn't officially met her until testing, which was a couple of days before I found out I got the job. And she was really nice and so fun!
Q: If you could describe her in one sentence, what would that sentence be?
Ashley: Keke Palmer is the most wonderful, funniest, incredible person you will ever meet.
Q: That's good! What about Matt Shively, who plays Ryan? How would you describe him?
Ashley: Oh, gosh. Matt is the goofiest, funniest, nicest person you'll ever meet. Both of them are awesome. And he's really loud too. Both of them can be really loud.
Q: Now, I read in an interview with you that you said you guys like to do pranks. What kind of pranks do you guys like to pull on the set?
Ashley: I haven't really pulled any, but —
Q: Have you had any pulled on you?
Ashley: Yeah, Keke has this shock thingie — I think she got one of them from the prop room, and then one of them she just has because she's a goofball. It shocks you. It looks like gum. It looks exactly like a gum wrapper. And she goes around telling people, “Would you like some gum?” You know, people fall for it. “Oh, yeah, sure!” And when you put your thumb on it, it will shock your whole body! And so, so many people fell for it; it was so funny. My mom fell for it. And there was one — she was like, “Oh, it's a flashlight, you have to push this button right here.” She did it on my mom and I knew what was going to happen and I didn't tell her. My mom, like, spanked me on the way to the room. She was like, “That is so mean!”
Q: Neat! Now tell me about your music. You've done a CD, right?
Ashley: Yes, I did. My CD came out last year, right around the time we did the pilot, a little before we did the pilot. And I'm not signed to a record label or anything. It was from my production company, Moho Productions, and we just put the CD out there. So right now we're looking for some major record labels, so hopefully something will happen with that. But yeah, I've been working on my CD since I was 13.
Q: How would you describe your music?
Ashley: It's pop-ish, ballady-ish, R&B-ish. It's a mix.
Q: Do you write any of your songs?
Ashley: On the majority of them, I didn't write. But one of the recent songs, “Gonna Get Ya,” which is on the CD, I did co-write that one. And I'm going to start writing with my music producer hopefully sometime soon — when I have the time, which is rare.
Q: Now, I read that you have a poodle named Annie.
Ashley: I do.
Q: Have you ever introduced Annie to Keke's dog, Rusty?
Ashley: I haven't. We're not allowed to bring dogs to the set. There's no dogs allowed at Paramount, so I haven't done that.
[Carly] I'm liking the cast of True Jackson, VP more and more. First, they're on an awesome show, and now they're dog people! Dogs rule! ( :P to all you cat people.)
Q: Oh! That's not fair.
Ashley: I know! It's terrible. But I did meet Rusty, and he's very, very, very cute.
Q: Well, you should set up a play date for the two of them.
Ashley: I should. My dog's really shy, though, so I don't know if she's going to do anything except hide behind me.
Q: You mentioned that you really like the Twilight saga series (for ages 12 and up).
Q: What appeals to you? When you got into the first book, what made you want to finish it and then go on to the next one and next one and next one? What did you really like about it?
Ashley: Oh, that's a good question. I think a lot of girls will agree with me on this — I think it was Edward Cullen that I was most attracted to in those books . . . Robert Pattinson. I think it's because he's the perfect guy. Everyone wants a guy like Robert Pattinson — Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen. He's so polite and such a gentleman. I mean, come on! Especially for a vampire. I think also I really enjoyed the struggle, because he wanted to be with Bella, but then he couldn't because he wanted to keep her safe; he wanted to make sure he wasn't going to kill her. The first book was so good! And it took me forever to get into this, because my friends had been telling me forever to go and grab the book, but I was like, “Oh, I don't like vampire stories like that or anything.” But I picked it up and I loved it. And I couldn't stop reading it. Every book I read in just about one day.
[Carly] Edward's so dreamy!
Q: You obviously like to read. What books would you recommend to a friend?
Ashley: One of my favorite books is the YA book, Perfect by Natasha Friend. That's a really great book. Of course, the Twilight series (for ages 12 and up), I would of course recommend. I read The Golden Compass. That was a really good book as well; they made that into a movie. Harry Potter. Everyone's got to love Harry Potter, come on. And Pride and Prejudice. It's really, really good, so I think I'd recommend that one too.
Q: I like your eclectic range.
Ashley: I have sci-fi books, the classics.
Q: What book do you think Lulu would recommend?
Ashley: That's a really good question. What book would Lulu recommend? I think I Spy would keep her pretty occupied. [laughs]
[Carly] Oh! I bet Lulu would love Where's Waldo. Those where always my favorite.
Q: I love that! That is a great answer. Before our interview, you mentioned that an embarrassing moment at school was when you were younger and you got awards and kids made fun of that. Why did they do that?
Ashley: Well, I've always been a straight-A student, so when I was in school, at the end of the year our teacher used to give out awards. Social studies awards and art awards and blah blah blah. And they would do a little description: “Okay, the person who won this award, she always gets good grades . . ." Or if it's a spelling award: “She always spells her words right; she gets a hundred percent on all her spelling tests . . . " And the teacher would ask, “Who do you think it is?” And the whole class, no matter what, would always go, “Ashley.” Like monotonously, “Ashley.” I was like, “Oh, thanks, guys.” And then I would go up and get the award and then he'd take a picture and I'd sit down. And then he'd go, “Okay, social studies award. This person gets straight As, always gets an A on their history test. Who do you think it is?” Everybody's like, “Ashley.” I was like, “Oh my gosh!” . . . They kind of teased me about it, but they weren't mean about it that much. But it was really embarrassing that every time I'd sit down, I'd have to get back up again and be like, “Okay, it was me!”
Q: Everybody should have that kind of a problem.
Ashley: I guess it's kind of a good problem to have in the end.
Q: Do you remember a really good first day of school or one that maybe wasn't so good? One that sticks out in your memory.
Ashley: My first day of home schooling. That was awesome. I just entered 7th grade and I had to be home schooled because I was touring with Lion King. And I kind of — you don't really know what to expect and I was kind of like, “Hm.” You don't know if it's going to be easy or hard. I started all the work, and I ended up getting ahead on my first day. It was really cool.
Q: Do you miss regular school, or do you kind of feel like you do better because of home schooling or being tutored on the set?
Ashley: The only people in the school room are our teacher and Keke, so we have a lot of fun; we end up talking a lot, but it's all good — we still do schoolwork, I promise! But I do miss regular school because I don't get to see my friends as much — well, the friends that I did have in school. I don't ever get to see them any more, and sometimes my friends will tell me, “Oh, I was switching classes and I went to my locker," and I'm like, “I don't have a locker and I don't switch classes; I don't get to do that.” I literally pull a book out of the bag and there's my next class. But I do like home schooling. It's kind of hard to get motivated sometimes because you do have the option of just sleeping all day and not doing any schoolwork. But my mom of course is a stickler for making sure that I do my schoolwork. She always makes sure I do my schoolwork. School's really important because if acting and show business doesn't work out, then I do need something to fall back on. So school's really important.
Q: If you weren't pursuing acting or performing, what do you think you'd like to do?
Ashley: Well, the back-up plan is to be a doctor. My mom is a nurse, so I guess it kind of runs in the family. But I've always been interested in medical things; I love watching medical shows, and I don't get queasy when I see people being cut open or when I see blood. I gravitate towards it. I'm like, “Oh, that's so cool! Turn it up, turn it up!” I'm also really interested in forensics too. I love CSI and Without a Trace and all that kind of stuff.
Q: What area of medicine would you like to go into?
Ashley: I haven't really thought about it yet. Everything kind of just intrigues me. I love kids so maybe I'll be —
Q: Like a pediatrician?
[Carly] Paging Dr. Ashley!
So there you have it, folks! Ashley is just your average Twilight-loving, medical-aspiring, straight-A, singing, acting superstar!
— Carly H., STACKS Staffer
True Jackson, VP cast photos courtesy of Nickelodeon, Twilight photo courtesy of Summit Entertainments, Puppy photos from Utekhina Anna/Shutterstock and Eric Isselée/Shutterstock