The Girls!

Jillian Shea Spaeder

Walk the PrankLos Angeles, CAStory and Photos by Lauri Levenfeld
For Jillian Shea Spaeder life is all about a good laugh. With a background in music and improv and a lifetime of performing, Spaeder has proven to be the perfect pick for Disney XD’s show Walk the Prank. Her easy going and “go with the flow” abilities and attitude have not only channeled the opportunity of a lifetime, but have also helped Jillian to manage the stresses and challenges ..that come up being a teen in the media light. We talk to Jillian today about the amazing ride she has been on since she hit LA ground running. It’s no wonder the girl has fallen in love with LA’s palm trees, rollercoasters, and so much more. 
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1. Who are you? And what were you like as a little girl?

I’m a 14-year-old actor, singer, and musician from Malvern, Pennsylvania, a small town in the Philadelphia suburbs. When I’m not in California filming or auditioning, my parents and I go back to the East Coast to see my brother and sister. They are eight and six years older than me. Being much younger I had to work hard to get attention when I was little–and I did! I come from a very musical family. My favorite things to do were sing, play outside, and eat goldfish crackers. I still love to do all those things, but now I’ve added some instruments and binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy to that list!

 

 2. Why is making people laugh so important to you?

Laughing is my favorite thing to do! It’s contagious and a great gift. Giving that joy to other people through acting or entertaining makes my heart warm.

 

3. When did you know you wanted to be an entertainer?

I pretty much knew for as long as I can remember that I wanted to be an entertainer. When I was really little, I would set up chairs, draw tickets, and make my family watch the shows I made up. I collected their tickets, ushered them to their seats before taking the stage. I would usually just make the show up as I went along. Now I go to improv classes to do that! Later I wrote scripts and made short videos and movies with my friends. I performed in some elementary school shows, but I wanted to do more, so I asked my parents if I could work with a private acting coach. My first professional acting job was in the Christmas Panto at People’s Light and Theater Company, a regional equity theatre near our house. We did about seventy performances over two months. I was the only kid in a cast of 12 actors., so that was special. I loved doing the show and it was a fantastic learning experience.

 

4. You have the Hollywood dream story, tell us about your entry into the Disney family?

During the summer of 2014, I was in Los Angeles singing in a performing arts competition.

Before the competition officially began, the program offered a day of seminars with industry professionals. One seminar was led by the woman who would become my manager. She offered to represent me and encouraged us to consider a move to L.A.. My parents and I decided to give that idea a two-month trial during pilot season. My mom and I went the following February, and I went on numerous pilot and movie auditions. I also attended acting classes and had private coaching for every audition. I landed a small role shooting some skits for DreamWorksTV, but I was still hoping to get something bigger. At the end of the two months, my dad and sister had flown in so we could spend Easter weekend in San Diego before all flying back to Philadelphia together that Monday. The Thursday before, we checked out of our apartment, shipped everything home except for one suitcase each, and had lunch with my manager before taking the journey to San Diego. It was here that she asked whether or not we could delay the flight Monday, because she wanted to send me on an audition for a new prank show that Disney was creating…this show was Disney XD’s Walk the Prank.

Monday morning, we left San Diego around 6 a.m. to make it on time to the 11 a.m. audition in Hollywood. Truthfully, I hadn’t spent too much time working on lines over the holiday weekend, so I felt a little unprepared! So I was a little surprised when the casting director asked me to come back that evening for coaching, because she was sending me to producers the following day. I met with producers Tuesday and found out that evening that I would be testing for the role of Bailey. It would be three weeks before anything else would happen, so we ended up checking back IN to the apartment complex. While waiting for the testing, I filmed a guest star role on a Nickelodeon show and several more segments for DreamWorks TV.

Near the end of April, I had the mix and match with some of the boys, as well as three other girls testing for Bailey. I found out the same week that it was down to me and one other girl. About a month later, the producers called to tell me I got the role. We filmed the pilot just 10 days later, in early June, and waited about four months before hearing the pilot was picked up, and that we would begin production in January. It was then that I was officially a member of “The Mouse House!”

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 5. What have been your biggest adjustments moving to L.A.?

The weather is definitely different–right now it’s freezing in Philadelphia! I fell in love with palm trees when I first arrived in CA, though, so I still love seeing them every day. At home, most of my relatives live nearby, so I don’t get to see them as much, but the WTP cast and their families have become our family here. I’ve made a lot of new friends in L.A., some who are actors and some who aren’t. I keep in touch with my East Coast friends over social media and always look forward to seeing them when I’m home.

 

6. What are some of your favorite L.A. finds.

1) The Grove – I love hanging out there and getting dinner.

2) The Counter – awesome build-your-own burgers.  

3) Six Flags Magic Mountain – I have a season pass and go there with my friends as often as I can. I LOVE rollercoasters!  

4) Blue C Sushi in Hollywood – The sushi comes around on a conveyer belt, and the staff is really friendly.

5) Rita’s Water Ice – This is actually a Philadelphia favorite. I was shocked to see a Rita’s in North Hollywood and love going there for a taste of home.

7. Who are your role models or mentors?

My sister Emma is my biggest role model, because she is always positive and sets an example by working hard to achieve her goals. She’s studying to be a nurse. My brother Evan is also a role model. He’s a volunteer fire- fighter and emergency medical technician, so he’s inspired me to help people.

 

8. What do you see as the biggest challenges for teenage girls today?  How do you support your friends through these challenges?

Bullying both in person and online is a big challenge for teens. Everyone needs to remember that people who hate are probably feeling bad about themselves and taking it out on others. Being kind, even to bullies, might help them feel better about themselves and act nicer. I get a lot of social media messages from girls who are getting picked on and called ugly. I try to respond and tell them to be strong and proud–and not let others bring them down.

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9. How has your love of music prepared you for your current role? Should we expect an album in the near future?

I haven’t really sung on Walk the Prank, but I’ve been singing in public with my parents’ band since I was nine years old. Performing in front of audiences for five years has made me more self-confident, and playing with different musicians has taught me to go with the flow, which comes in handy on a prank show! I wrote and recorded my first original song recently, and I’m continuing to work on new songs, so yes, I do hope to have an album out before long. My mom, dad and I plan to do some local gigs in the area this spring.

10. What’s next for Jillian Shea Spaeder?

I’ll be filming Walk the Prank until March. I’ve been auditioning for different projects, including some movies, and I continue to work on guitar, ukulele and singing. I’m hoping there will be a third (and even fourth!) season of Walk the Prank. The cast are some of my closest friends, and I want to keep working together. I also want to keep writing music and get that album out!

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5 thoughts on “Jillian Shea Spaeder

    1. jillian you are my favorite person in the world, plz follow my on instagram ,snap and music.ly plz plz plz

      Love,
      Trudy

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