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Guest Post: Debby Ryan
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Radio Rebel DVD box art sm.pngIn the recent Disney Channel Original Movie "Radio Rebel," which is now available on DVD, Debby Ryan plays Shelby, a shy high school student who only finds the courage to speak as her "secret" alter-ego, an underground DJ who inspires her peers to be themselves and break free of pressure and expectations from others. If you haven't seen this flick, we highly recommend it. (The music's great, too!)

We invited Debby to be our guest IML Blogger for the day. She has some amazing insights about celebrating our differences and what makes each of us unique. Read this and you'll totally want to hang out with her for a day.

"Be Yourself, Because You Are Beautiful"
I think that the most beautiful thing in life is diversity. When you see a light in a dark room, the reason it looks so bright is because everything around it is cloaked in the same dark shadow. On the other hand, a prism or a sunset is often experienced as strikingly beautiful, because each is made up of so MANY colors. If everything everywhere was one color, you wouldn't be able to see just how beautiful things are, and I think that this applies to people, too.
debbyryan_radiorebel.jpgIf everyone had the same sense of humor, things just wouldn't be as funny or intriguing. I think that the most beautiful thing about being able to live life is meeting different people in passing, experiencing various personalities, and hearing the stories explaining each individual's preferences and memories. For example, you may agree with someone on your favorite flavor of ice cream, but they might have a completely different reason for making it their number one choice. Maybe someone's favorite flavor is based on a memory of getting ice cream with their family as a kid. Maybe someone else hates mint because it reminds them of toothpaste. I like digging into people's thoughts and ideas; it really gives you an idea of why people are the way that they are!
The biggest mistake that we can make is to go through life without ever asking "Why?" I believe that in order to really get the most out of life, we should see and do as many different things as possible. I've always wanted to help support a village in developing countries, and I've been obsessed with India recently. So I went, helped bring big changes and bigger hugs, and before I left, I decided to ride a camel and get henna tattoos all down my arm. From there, I went to Australia on a business trip and took a surf lesson. I'm terrified of the ocean, but I did it! I had these opportunities, and I let myself take them. Different experiences make us into the people we are. I believe we are collages or mosaics, made up of different pieces, textures, and colors. Some qualities and experiences may break us and leave us with rough edges, while others build us up solid and refine us smooth and shiny. All of them come together to create the mosaic of you, and all of them are beautiful.
There is no one standard of beauty. I think that each person can have something incredibly unique and beautiful about them that makes them stand apart from all others in the world. Knowing that millions of people that have lived before, and millions of people are currently alive, but there never has been, nor will there ever be, anyone exactly like you, is the most beautiful thing in the world! The more that you are able to embrace that, the more you'll see that the things that you find weird or awkward about yourself, the things that make you stick out or feel like you're strange, are the things that make you different and unique and beautiful. As long as you are working to become the best version of yourself that you can be, always being gracious, and open to learning new things and asking why, you remain beautiful leaving behind a unique footprint on the world. And you have a ton of fun while doing it. Stay beautiful!
Radio Rebel believes in the beauty of diversity, so I put together a playlist that showcases a range of genres, lyrics, and artists: classically timeless & ahead of their time, gently reflective & empowered anthemic, chart-toppers & basement-dwellers. These tracks are about youth, individuality, the power of music, and fighting for what you believe in.
"Start A Riot" - The Rescues
"Beat The System" - Alyson Stoner
"Bullet Soul" - Switchfoot
"Generation" - States
"Synthesizers" - Butch Walker & The Black Widows
"Coachella" - Brooke Fraser
"Revolution" - The Beatles
"Forest" - Twenty | One | Pilots
"It's Time" - Imagine Dragons
"Free My Mind" - Katie Herzig
"I Can't Hear You" - The Dead Weather
"Youth" - Foxes
Change the world... out loud.

Wow. Great playlist. Thanks, Debby!

Celeb Scoop: James Maslow
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image003.pngBack in November 2009, IML interviewed some guy starring in some show that was about to premiere on Nickelodeon, about him and some other guys who sang together and had some funny adventures. It sounded cool, but we hadn't seen the show yet to know if it would be any good.

What we DID know was that the guy, James Maslow, was really smart, sweet, and insightful, sharing his experiences as a tween who was involved with both performing arts and sports. It was one of our favorite interviews ever, actually. Then, of course, "Big Time Rush" premiered and it was all kinds of awesome. It's been fun for us here at IML to watch BTR and James's career take off, and we were really excited to have the chance recently to catch up with him as he heads out on the Big Time Rush summer tour.

IML: Hey, James! It's been a while since we spoke to you, right before BTR hit the airwaves. If you had to describe the last 2 1/2 years in a single word, which word would you choose?

James: Fast-paced. There are so many other ways to describe it, from the experiences I've had to the work I've put in. Looking back on it now makes me feel old actually, because that time went by kind of quickly! Every new month and every new year almost feels like a beginning again. Looking back on the four years since I first got involved with BTR, I think, "How did we fit in so much?" and "Where did the time go?" It's been kind of crazy, however I don't regret anything. All these experiences are leading to bigger and better ones. It's pretty amazing.

IML: What's been the best part so far?

James: One of the best parts is getting to experience the world. Not the whole world of course, but we've been to quite a few places, to Canada and Europe and now at the end of this tour we're going to South America. By the end of this summer we will have been to every state in the U.S.! A lot of it is quick, it's in a tour bus or a car so you can't see everything. But it's more than most people get to experience, and not only do I get to go to these places but I get to make connections and meet the fans who live there and experience different cultures. I'm realizing how lucky I am to get to see so much.

IML: What's been one of the toughest things?

James: Transitioning from essentially being a kid and spending lots of time with my friends and family whenever I wanted, to working 6 or 7 days a week, usually nonstop. Even though it's absolutely amazing and it's what I love, it's still hard, not being home for months at a time. It's different and it takes a toll on you in certain ways, and you have to just focus on the trade-off. There are so many ups and you forget about the downs!

btrimage004.jpgIML: In that time, you guys have created a really good body of work out there, not just with the TV episodes but with the music. Do you have a favorite BTR song or one that's just had a special meaning for you?

James: Definitely the songs that I've written, and the songs that have done well, like "Elevate," because I created it. It's amazing to see the fans sing that. One of my favorites that I wrote is "Epic" that's only out in Europe. "No Idea" is my favorite song on the second album, because it's so passionate and lyrically it's so beautiful. On stage we're usually doing flips and dancing around but for this we just sit down and sing this song. The fans take a break and just listen to the lyrics, and it's beautiful. It's also closer to the things I love to do most and where I started from, playing piano and singing.

IML: Do you have a favorite recent episode or shooting experience?

James: Recently we filmed an episode with Rachel Crow and the guy who played Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Alfonso Ribeiro. We actually did a goof on that show, which was one of my favorite shows growing up. That was just one of those moments where I could look back on where I was four years ago and what I'm doing now and what I used to watch on TV...and now I'm creating that for a younger generation. It's pretty cool.

IML: Ten years ago, you were really involved in musical theatre at school and in your community, dreaming some pretty big dreams. Are you meeting kids who are in that place now? What advice do you give them?

James: I meet a lot of fans who are interested in being singers or actors or even producers. It's kind of fun now that I live in all those worlds. What it comes down to, in any kind of business, is this: if you love it, keep doing it. It sounds simple but I think a lot of people are discouraged, especially in this industry. As an actor, you're going to be told NO so many times and there are so many things you can't control, but if you continue to do it and continue to love it, that shows through. Eventually somebody's going to give you an opportunity. And if you do it for a long time, you're going to get better.

IML: It's been interesting to watch James Diamond evolve as a character. What would you like to see happen with him in the future?

James: I think this is already happening a little bit in the third season...he's not SO self-centered anymore. One nice thing about Big Time Rush is that everybody has their distinct personality on the show, but ultimately they still care about each other, they're still brothers who love one another and help each other out.

IML: You and the other guys are really like brothers at this point. Do you have nicknames for one another?

James: I started calling Kendall "K-Dog" for whatever reason, and now everyone calls him that. Carlos has always just been "Carlitos," which is a fun name that kind of sticks. We call Logan "Logane" or "Logi-Bear" if we're feeling especially affectionate. My nickname is...hmmm...James? I guess I'm not nicknameable yet.

IML: Have you been able to get involved with a cause you care about?

James: One thing I love is to do children's hospital visits. Recently, I noticed my dog Fox really brings the best out of people, so I'd like to train him to be a therapy dog when he's old enough and bring him around when I go. Then of course I'm really into educating kids about physical fitness. When there's some down time, I'll seek out the right organization to get involved with.

IML: Physical fitness has always been really important to you. How do you fit it in with such a crazy schedule?

James: I usually go on a run. I bring boxing gloves on the road so I can spar. You have to figure out what you enjoy. I enjoy running, especially in a new city, so when I'm on tour that's always a good option. I enjoy going to a gym when it's a new gym, new people and a new environment. When we were on Maui, we went hiking. Even if you have just half an hour, you can get a good workout. So I try to make it count no matter where I am.

IML: Thanks, James! It was so great to check in with you; you continue to be a great role model for young people and we wish you nothing but the best in the future!

James: Thank you!

We may have watched this video for "Elevate" more than once. You might too.

Celeb Scoop: Ainsley Bailey
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ainsley1.jpgOver the course of two seasons, fans of the Disney Channel's hit series "Shake It Up" have met quite the variety of characters. One of our favorites is Dina Garcia, the feisty, New Jersey-accented girl who ended up being a perfect match for boyfriend Deuce Martinez. We recently got a chance to learn a bit more about Ainsley Bailey, the talented young actress who brings Dina to life!

IML: Tell us a little about Dina in your own words. How are the two of you alike, and how are you different?

Ainsley: Dina's more of a tomboy than I am. She's very confident and outspoken. She and Deuce are really fun together, they're like an old married couple. They do care for each other and take care of each other, even though they also bicker. Dina and I are both very loyal, good friends and really care about the people who we're close to. I think Dina's more of a daredevil than I am; I'm a little more on the shy side. Dina's not shy at all! It's really fun to play someone so different. It gives you that freedom and permission to step outside of yourself and do things you wouldn't normally do.

IML: Dina wasn't originally supposed to be a regular character. Why do you think Dina's become so popular with viewers?

Ainsley: I think it's good for girls to see someone who isn't the typical girly-girl. Dina's kind of different and I think girls have really responded to that. Her accent is really fun and kids get a kick out of that. People also enjoy seeing the relationship between her and Deuce.

IML: You don't see a lot of really successful relationships in TV shows for tweens. Usually people are breaking up or there's some kind of problem, or whatever. It is nice to have that role model out there.

Ainsley: I think so too. Even though they have arguments and competitions, deep down they really care for each other and it always comes back to that. It's a very sweet relationship to have on the show!

IML: What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you on set?

Ainsley: In one episode, the girls had to eat big tubs of ice cream. Me and Bella and Caroline and Zendaya. We were all really enjoying the ice cream and we had to make sure we had enough for all the takes!

ainsley2.jpgIML: Does the cast get along in real life?

Ainsley: Oh, yes. Everyone's so sweet. I was kind of nervous on my first day there because they already knew each other, and I felt like the new kid. But everyone was so welcoming, and the crew too. Everyone just took me into the family with open arms!

IML: You first started performing when you were around age 10. What made you decide to give it a try?

Ainsley: In elementary school, I tried lots of different things. I tried sports and wasn't very athletic. I sort of fell into acting through a play our community theatre was doing. My friends and I decided to try that and I fell in love with it immediately, it just clicked and I was like, this is where I'm supposed to be. I finally found my niche!

IML: Were you actively looking for something to be your "thing"?

Ainsley: I wanted to try lots of different things. I had an older brother and he was good at sports and stuff, so I wanted to be like him, but I was never quite as good as he was. When I found acting, it was a relief. It was like, okay this makes sense. I'm good at this!

IML: We're sure that's what happens for a lot of kids. So you continued to stay involved with theatre all through school?

Ainsley: Yeah, I did probably seven plays with that community theatre. Then I got to where I wanted to try TV and film. I enrolled in some classes and found a great studio that helped me get on the right track.

IML: So when you were doing all those shows with the community theatre, what do you feel that added to your life?

Ainsley: I really just gave me a sense of belonging and community, of being around other kids who liked to do the same things. I made a lot of my friends in acting. To this day, pretty much all of my friends are people I've met through acting. Once you have that common bond with someone. that is a great building block for a friendship.

IML: We've heard that you have a cause that you really care about. Can you tell us more?

Ainsley: Anything having to do with animal abuse just breaks my heart, so I feel really passionate about humane issues. I've just gotten involved with the SPCA here in Los Angeles. I'm really excited to get started with that and help get the word out about animal adoption as opposed to buying from pet stores or other places. There are so many animals out there that need homes. I want every animal to have a home! I'd really love to volunteer at shelters.

IML: On the surface, "Shake It Up" is a fun show about dancing and friendship. But it seems like there's more to it than that. What would you like viewers to take away from the show?

Ainsley: It's amazing how inspired kids seem to be by the show, especially CeCe and Rocky's story. It inspires them to follow their dreams which is so important, even when it seems like the odds are against you. When I was younger, I was thinking, I want to be an actor but how do I do that? Having that drive and's so important. I really believe that if it's truly your passion and you're wiling to work hard for it and make sacrifices, it's going to happen. No matter where you come from or what happens, you can always make your dreams come true. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's so true!

IML: Thanks, Ainsley! We loved chatting with you, and good luck!

Thank you!

DVD Review and Celeb Interview: "The Muppets"
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In the world of entertainment, stars don't come much bigger than the Muppets. Movies, TV, records, web videos... you name it, they've conquered it over the course of many decades. The latest project from our fabulous furry, feathery and felty friends is a smash hit motion picture called, simply, "The Muppets."

Muppets Wocka Wocka sm.pngIn this musical comedy we're introduced to a brand new character called Walter, who doesn't seem to fit in with the "normal" humans in his town. Walter is smaller, more colorful and, well, just plain more Muppety than even his brother Gary (played by Jason Segel). These siblings may look very different, but they support each other through good times and bad, and they share a fanatical devotion to their favorite TV stars who guessed it...the Muppets. When Walter and Gary visit the Muppet Studios in Hollywood, they find that it's fallen upon hard times, and uncover a bad guy's dastardly scheme to take over the property. Determined to set things right, they resolve to find Kermit, Fozzie, Miss Piggy and the rest of the Muppets, and get the whole gang back together.

We won't spoil the rest in case you haven't seen it, but suffice to say that the international adventure that follows is filled with jokes, slapstick, songs, dancing, guest stars, and everything we've come to expect from The Muppets.

We're really psyched that the movie is now out of DVD and Blu-ray Disc, too. We watched the 3-disc "Wocka-Wocka" version, which includes a bunch of hilarious extras, including deleted scenes, bloopers, a making-of feature, and even a copy of the movie's awesome soundtrack, which features the Oscar-winning original song "Man or Muppet."

We also noticed that, although they mostly play it for laughs, "The Muppets" has a lot of great themes and ideas that fit right in with what we talk about every day here at It's My Life. Themes like trying to fit it, finding your place in the world, getting along with siblings and friends, and standing up to bullies.

We had a chance to talk about all these ideas, and a bunch of others, with Muppet stars Kermit the Frog and Walter. Kermit is, as always, so wise and inspiring! Check it out:

Celeb Scoop: Titus Makin Jr.
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titus.jpgAs you may know, being part of a performing group can really change your life. Being part of a performing group on a gigantic hit TV series can change your life to the 12th degree of awesomeness. Just ask Titus Makin, Jr., a member of the fictional, but no less amazing, Warblers glee club on "Glee."

Titus plays David, and although you probably don't know this character's name, you've probably seen and heard him in every Warblers song to date. Titus has a bright future ahead of him and we think he's a performer to watch, with other roles such as NBC's "Game of Your Life" and ABC Family's "A Cinderella Story." We loved getting to know more about him!

IML: Your first starring project, "Game of Your Life," just aired recently. Tell us about that. What was the best part of it, for you?

Titus: It was awesome, because not only was it great to do something on NBC, but it was my first "ultra-leading" role, where I'm on camera ALL the time. It was a new thing for me, and I have a hard time watching myself, so that was interesting...but it was an amazing life opportunity, and I just hope that there a lot more leading roles in the future.

IML: What was it like to be able to get into a character and explore it with that much screen time?

Titus: It was great, actually. It was my first time doing so much research on a character. They flew us into Atlanta, and we had to take video game design classes. My character is extremely intelligent when it comes to video games, so I had to take classes to really learn all the terms and understand how games are made. It was cool and it really put me in the character's shoes. I completely understand where he's coming from, as far as the work, and the effort it takes.

IML: That sounds like an incredible learning experience just as an actor, to be able to get into it like that. This leads us to David, your character on "Glee." He's a bit of a mystery, and the audience doesn't really learn anything about him. Do you have a "backstory" for him that you can use yourself, as an actor? Did you have any ideas of who he os and where he's coming from?

Titus: Yeah, I actually did create a backstory! Just because sometimes Ryan (the show's producer) may ask about that, and he creates a lot from the other kids' personal lives and what they've created for themselves. So I've always assumed, and made it true, that David comes from a household where they don't know that he is going to the school and acting like this. Like he's from a different neighborhood that's not as wealthy, and he persuaded them to let him move in with his grandparents, and they sent him to the school in their division, and his parents don't know. So I just created this special twist for myself, just to have something to go off of.

IML: While we're talking about "Glee," we have to confess, we're huge fans of The Warblers. What's been your favorite Warblers song so far?

Titus: My favorite one to hear is "Hey Soul Sister." I just like that song a lot. And my favorite one to perform was probably the Gap scene, because we could run around, and flip off the tables, and really just go outside of the school for the first time, so that was awesome. We did that at the Gap at The Grove, an outdoor shopping mall outside of Los Angeles.

IML: We know you're a dancer as well as an actor. What's your favorite dance style?

Titus: Well, of course I'm gonna have to give it to hip-hop! But actually, I went to a performing arts school in New York, and they were teaching us ballroom, and I've found this love for ballroom...foxtrot and waltz and all those things. So that's sort of second place, there. Also, there's a pretty awesome "Bollywood" number in "Cinderella Story," so that's pretty cool.

IML: Growing up, you were a military kid, so you moved around a lot. We have a lot of kids who write into IML who are in the same situation, or who have parents deployed overseas. Now that you're older and can look back, how did being in a military family effect you?

Titus: I think it was beneficial. Now, when I have to leave and go someplace for my career, I'm kinda used it. I've adapted to moving fairly often, and I don't grow attached to a lot of things that would hold me back. If you were in a place for a long time, you'd be afraid to move to, Los Angeles, let's say. I just really embraced it, and I'm happy I did, because now I hear people say "Oh, I want to travel and see these places," and I'm like "Well, I already did it, and it was awesome!" So I really think it's something you can embrace, and know that wherever you go you can make friends, and just because you're leaving certain places doesn't mean you can't stay in touch with your old friends.

IML: You've probably picked up quite an amazing collection of people from your various travels.

Titus: I love that type of thing...meeting new people, and seeing new places. So that type of childhood really worked for me.

IML: What's next for you in 2012?

Titus: Well, hopefully there will be some more episodes of "Glee." But other than that, I just finished shooting a new film called "So This is Christmas," that's slated to come out in December of 2012. And that's another awesome movie with a great storyline, and a great message. I was able to play the son of Vivica Fox and the stepson of Eric Roberts.

IML: Do you have a "dream role"?

Titus: Yes. My dream role has always been to play something -- anything -- alongside Will Smith. His nephew, his son...I could be a clerk at a store that serves him coffee... I don't know! That is my dream role.

IML: Has he been a role model for you?

Titus: Yes, definitely. I love both comedy and drama, and seeing somebody like him who does it wonderfully, going back and forth between the two, is a career I aim to go back and forth smoothly, and be respected for both.

IML: Well, we think you're on the right track, and we hope that something like that is in store for you! Thanks for talking to us, and good luck with everything!

Titus: Thank you so much!

Lucas Cruikshank and "Fred: The Show"
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First, there were short YouTube videos. Then there was a movie. Then there was another movie. Where does a talented teen and his strange, hyper, lovable alter ego go next? To a TV show, of course! "Fred: The Show" premieres on Nickelodeon starting Monday, February 20 at 8pm ET/PT. Each episode of this new series is 11 minutes long and builds on Fred's adventures from the films.

fred_series_17HR.jpgAs you can tell from our previous interviews with Lucas Cruikshank, we're fans of Fred. Not just because Fred is funny, but because there's more to him than meets the eye. He's one of those characters that reminds us, it's okay to be different, and that we should never give up on something we want. We can't help but root for Fred because he's the underdog. Plus, we love the fact that Lucas has had such success from something that he originally did just for fun, and that he's managed to stay totally down-to-earth and focused.

We checked in with Lucas about this next stage of Fred-dom!

IML: Where in the timeline of Fred's previous adventures does "Fred: The Show" fall?  

Lucas: Fred is now in high school.  I would say about a year has passed since when we last saw Fred in the second movie.

IML: Each episode is 11 minutes long. Is it challenging to come up with stories that can be told in that length of time?

Lucas: Coming up with ideas isn't really challenging.  In fact, it's been going really smoothly and the episodes are turning out great!

IML: Where do you get your ideas for each Fred "adventure"?

Lucas: Random things inspire me!  Sometimes, as I'm falling asleep, ideas for stories will just starting popping into my mind.

IML: How is the process of shooting and editing this series different from the previous videos you've done?

Lucas: The biggest difference between the online Fred videos and the series is that the show is a much longer process.  While making the Internet videos was a two hour process, shooting a TV episode is much more involved than that.

fred_series_18HR.JPGIML: Any hints on what we can expect from Fred -- is he going to try something different, meet someone new, or go somewhere exciting and strange?

Lucas: In the show, Fred is just experiencing high school and running into crazy situations.  There's never a dull day with Mr. Figglehorn.

IML: What's been your biggest "Fred highlight" of the last year?

Lucas: The premiere of "Fred 2"! I was so happy it did well and so thankful for everyone who watched it.

IML: What can you tell us about your next project with Nickelodeon, "Marvin, Marvin"? It sounds great!

Lucas: "Marvin, Marvin" is a TV show about an alien who comes to live with a human family.  Marvin is an odd guy trying to learn the ins and outs of our world...and he spontaneously bursts into dance every once in a while, too.

IML: Thanks, Lucas, and good luck!


You can check out our interviews with Lucas about "Fred: The Movie" and "Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred."

Celeb Scoop: Reed Alexander
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reedalexander.jpgIf you watch "iCarly," then you know 17-year-old Reed Alexander as Carly's nemesis, Nevel Papperman. But did you know you can find Reed 24/7 in a virtual online kitchen he designed especially for kids and teens?

Reed's website is his labor of love, filled with recipes, exercise tips, videos, and other information aimed at helping young people discover that a healthy lifestyle is actually doable...and fun. We think it's a pretty cool thing, so we wanted to find out more from Reed himself.

IML: Where did the idea for KewlBites come from?

Reed: A few years ago, I was overweight and always really tired. I didn't have much confidence or energy. I wanted to make a change. I'm a huge foodie and I love cooking shows, and cooking for others has always been a big part of my life. I couldn't really find anything out there from the kids' POV that would have been right for me. I didn't want to join a diet program or something targeted at adults, I wanted a lifestyle thing. So I set out to make my own way. I got outside and made exercise a priority, and I took those traditional kid food classics I loved but lightened them up, morphed them into something I could feel great about. I also have a family history of heart disease and diabetes so I really needed to open my eyes. I ended up losing 15 pounds and people would say, "You really made a change! What's going on?" So that continued to motivate me, and I came up with the idea for KewlBites. I wanted to spackle up the hole I'd found when I was in this position, and provide a resource and a platform for kids and families who are like me. It's been great to hear reactions from different kinds of people!

IML: It does appeal to everyone! We found stuff on there we could use! You mentioned that you've always been a foodie. How did you first get interested in cooking?

Reed: After many years of great get-togethers with my family, as I got older I wanted to have more of a role in the kitchen. Then I'd watch a food show on TV and pick up these really interesting tips. Now, when I'm on the set of "iCarly," we have a great team with a lot of great taste buds. I bring things to the set that I make and I get a lot of feedback from the cast and crew. It's a great way to connect with people. This past Thanksgiving it was so fun to have people over and make a great spread for them, and see their reactions as they grabbed their forks and dived in.

IML: What do you think are the biggest misconceptions young people have about nutrition and eating well and cooking? Why aren't more tweens excited about that?

Reed: I think there's that old idea of, "Oh, we're eating nutritiously tonight, does that means steamed chicken and broccoli?" Healthy doesn't have to be boring in any way. Sometimes it's difficult because we're all so busy that it's sometimes it seems impossible to get a hold of the information and simple knowledge. Cooking is not at all a chore, and I don't think it's something you have to have a natural knack for in order to make something delicious. It's something a lot of us can tune into and enjoy on different levels. There's this notion that in order to feel great about yourself you have to go on a "diet." But that's not true.

IML: When young people want to start making their lifestyle more healthy, it can seem overwhelming, like they have to change everything at once. What would you say is a great first step for someone?

Reed: The name of KewlBites is about that -- you go one bite at a time with this stuff, integrating easy-to-do activities. Maybe it's 20 minutes where you're outside jogging or walking the dog. Then maybe it's a trip to the supermarket; see what's in the fridge and then say, "Hey Mom, take a look at this, I really want to try this."

IML: You mentioned the importance of exercise. What kind of exercise do you enjoy?

Reed: I'm a huge tennis fan, I've been playing for a couple of years. But you know what I can always turn to if I wake up early and I look at my day and see that it's going to be pretty crammed? I can always get in a walk. Walking is just one of my favorite things to do. It's really cathartic. You only need sneakers! I also love to go for bike rides with my dad, and I love swimming too, especially when it's hot.

IML: What's next for you, acting-wise?

Reed: I'm happy to say that "iCarly" is coming back for a fifth season, and I can't wait to get back on the set. We'll be doing a brand new set of special episodes. I'm working on a brand new show that I'm writing as well, and I can't wait to share that.

IML: On "iCarly," your character Nevel is a little villainy. That seems so out of character since you're clearly a very a sweet guy. What would be your dream role?

Reed: Yeah, I would definitely like to branch out. I have so much fun with the comedy, I'd love to try drama or something with a totally different feel. What's been interesting in Neville's case is that at first glance he is a little bit of a looney, but some interesting sides of him have unfolded over the past few seasons. There are so many different aspects of him and I love to play that.

IML: Thanks for chatting with us, Reed! Good luck with KewlBites and "iCarly" and everything else!

Reed: Thank you!

Here at IML we have our own section on Food Smarts that's also a must-read for anyone wanting to make a change!

Celeb Scoop: Bera
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As you probably guessed, here on the IML blog we're always on the lookout for new and interesting music artists that appeal to tweens. You know, performers who might be a little different from what "everyone else" is listening to, or have unusual stories behind their music, or just people who we think might be future stars (so we can say, "Hey, we interviewed them way back when!").

bera.jpgSo here's an extra-special one for you: 16-year--old Bera, who's combined his training as a classical musician with his love of jazz and soul, along with his multicultural roots, to create some beautiful tunes from the heart. And if you're wondering what's up with the white hair, that's his natural color (more on that later). His upcoming EP is called "Late Night Cruise Music."

IML: When did you first start playing music? Do you remember what really grabbed you about it, and how it made you feel?
Bera: I was born into music and started playing when I was just 1 year old. I couldn't walk or talk, but I turned on the radio and started listening. When I was four years old I started playing violin, and two years later I started on piano and drums, so I was always playing music.  Music has always been a big part of me, like my best friend. I never really decided to pursue music as a career; everything happened naturally.  It's the same today; I just do what I love. I never thought about making a song because it would be good for my career, I just followed my passion and thought that if one day it became a job or something I felt I had to do, then I would stop.
IML: You're a Paris native but you also spend time in the Republic of Georgia. How have the different places you've lived influenced your music?
Bera: The places I have lived have definitely influenced my music. First of all, Paris is like the capital of Europe -- with fashion and everything -- and Georgia is much closer to Asia, a very traditional and religious country. So culturally Paris and Georgia are very, very different, and so is their music. Georgian people are very melodic, using a lot of sounds and harmony, so that was my main influence when I first started playing. Then in Paris I had more classical training -- mostly piano and singing -- so that influenced my music and me personally, as well.
IML: Last summer you took part in the Camplified tour. What was that like?
Bera: It was beautiful, my first tour in the States!  I learned a lot about myself and my music, and I think the kids really liked the songs. It could sometimes be a tough crowd, but the kids had good hearts and didn't seem to look at me as a stranger -- it was almost like I became a member of their family for the day.  It was never a huge crowd, so I could always connect with the audience -- they were very receptive and we had a great time!
IML: What are some of the challenges you've had to face in life because as an albino (a person born with no pigmentation, or coloring, in their skin, hair, or eyes), you have different physical traits than most people?
Bera: Personally, I always liked the fact that I was different.  It's good marketing! Of course sometimes people say things like, "Oh, man -- you are so white," but then the girls come over and say, "Can I touch your hair?" Really, the girls always liked it, so it never bothered me!

To learn more about Bera, check out his website at

Celeb Scoop: The PreZcotts
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prezcotts_album.jpgIf you have siblings, then you know how fun it can be when you find something you can all do together (instead of, you know, wanting to kill each other). Maybe that's a sport or playing instruments, or putting on plays, or making videos. In the case of 17-year-old AnaLeyna and three of her sisters -- 15-year-old ChaLyn, 14-year-old RaNelle, and 12-year-old MaRiah --that's writing and singing songs about where they've been, what they believe in, and what message they want to share with others.

As The PreZcotts, these four young women have just released their first album, filled with catchy melodies, heartfelt lyrics, and gorgeous harmonies. When we heard it, we were struck by how real the sisters sound. No auto-tune or professionally-written-by-some-adult songs for these ladies! We talked to AnaLeyna about sisters, songwriting, and how music can help others connect through topics like grief and bullying.

IML: Tell us a little about the original songs that are on the album. It seems like each one has a story to it.

AnaLeyna: Oh, yeah...definitely! I think the ones with the biggest story would have to be "Strength" and "Free." "Strength" was one of the first songs I wrote after my father passed. It was for the funeral of a friend of mine, about three months after losing my dad. She was only nineteen, and her parents wanted us to sing a song that would help the people there to heal a little bit. And I didn't have a song like that yet, so I took all the emotions from when I lost my dad and I just poured them into this song. It brought people to tears, but it was like...people were feeling better after they heard it.

IML: Wow. It must have been very therapeutic for you to get all those feelings out into a song.

analeyna.jpgAnaLeyna: Oh, definitely. And it was even helpful for my sisters. We got together to celebrate his birthday a year after he passed, and we sang "Strength." And it was hard seeing his family there, and we all broke down. Because, when you listen to the words, it's exactly how you would feel if you got put in a situation of loss. We recently sang it at another funeral, and they just absolutely loved it and thanked us. And we said, "We see it as an honor to be able to support you guys, because we know what it feels like to lose somebody you love." So, it's been a really healing and emotionally supporting song.

IML: You mentioned another song called "Free." Tell us about that!

AnaLeyna: It's special to me that "Free" is on the album, because that's the only song that my dad actually heard. That was actually one of the first songs I wrote, when I was ten years old. It was his favorite song, and it was one of the last songs we sang to him before he passed, so it kinda has this little special tie-in. And then of course, you open up the CD and open up the poster, and you see the dedication to him. So even though he couldn't be involved here with us, he's involved. You see him there. I thought that was really special.

IML: You also have an anti-bullying anthem called "Stay True," which is a really awesome song.

AnaLeyna: I actually wrote that with RaNelle and MaRiah. They actually have experiences that are a lot more fresh. Just last year, RaNelle had to deal with a lot of girls bullying her, right before the summer. And our manager was like, "You guys need to write a song."  So they gave me all the words, like "He got a new hairdo, he got a new pair of shoes," stuff like that. I said, "This is great, let's try it." And it turns out to be this really cute song that speaks to kids about being yourself no matter what other people are saying. Because society really does have a huge influence on kids. "Everybody's wearing the new shoes. Oh, no! I have to go get them." It's you don't. You are perfect just the way you are! Don't let people tell you that you have to look different to fit in. Because you don't. It's really cool to see kids singing along with that song, and they realize what they're saying...and they love it. They're like, "Oh, yeah! You're just like me and I'm just like you. I like this."

IML: What is your songwriting process like?

AnaLeyna: They all come differently for me, because it's really natural. I'll just be singing in the car, and I'll realize, "Hey, I like that!" I'll write it down, and then I'll go back to it later. But usually I start with music first. I'll play music on the piano, and if I like the tune I'll start to put words to it. Sometimes the words just come, because I hear them while I'm playing the music. I like writing the chorus first, like the hook, and then I go back to the verse and I think about what the verses should be about to fit the chorus. That's how every song has gone, except "Strength." With that I actually wrote the verses before the chorus.

IML: You wrote "Free" when you were 10, so you've been doing this a long time. Have your songs changed as you've gotten older?

AnaLeyna: Oh, definitely. I wrote "Free" when I was upset at my parents. Just really simple stuff, emotional stuff...I was very dramatic. Now I'm really good at taking any topic or emotion and writing a song about it. But when I was younger, I wasn't really good at that. It was only stuff that I actually had an emotion for that I could write about, and the writing would be very simple, and not very deep.

IML: So from there, how do you collaborate with your sisters?

prezcotts.jpgAnaLeyna: I usually write songs when everybody's gone, because that's when I'm most comfortable with changing things, and then I'll introduce my sisters to it. After I write a song, we all come together and we sing it, first the melody, and then we break off into harmony. If it doesn't work for them, like, "Oh, I can't hit that note," then I have to go back to the song and change stuff. So in every song, they play some part.

IML: One of the things we talk about a lot on It's My Life is sibling rivalry, and fighting with brothers and sisters. What kind of things do you guys fight about, and how do you resolve those fights?

AnaLeyna: The most common stuff that goes on is like, "That's my shirt! You didn't ask to wear my shirt!" Stuff like that. But I'm the oldest, and MaRiah's the youngest...she and I have completely different perspectives on life, so we're gonna react differently, we're gonna argue about stuff. But we know each other too well to not be able to put ourselves in the other person's shoes. And after you do that, you kinda get a better perspective. Even my younger sisters who are eight and six...I'll try to figure out what they're thinking, and then I realize they're feeling left out, so we've been able to fix that and make them feel like part of the crew!

IML: What would you like to see happen in the next year for the PreZcotts?    

AnaLeyna: Mostly for it to just get around! It would be so amazing to hear kids in Paris or London like, love our music, and knowing that people around the world are hearing what our messages are, that would just be a crazy big deal for us. I think the biggest deal is the fact that we have music in us and we want to share it with everybody. We're not trying to be selfish with it. I want to be able to have kids just begging for us to come sing for them...wanting to tell us all their stories so we can write songs about them. I like connecting with people and so do my sisters!

IML: Thanks for chatting with us, and good luck with everything!

AnaLeyna: Thank you!

You can learn more about the PreZcotts and check out their music on their website at We leave you with their very fun video of the song "Gossip"!

Celeb Scoop: Jake Short
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jakeshort.jpgDisney Channel's new hit show "A.N.T. Farm" centers around three friends who attend their high school's gifted ("Advanced Natural Talents") program. Sometimes these talents make life easier for them...and sometimes they don't. We're sure many of you can relate!

Fourteen-year-old Jake Short stars as Fletcher Quimby on the show and is enjoying the ride so far. We had a fun chat with him recently:

IML: Hi Jake! "A.N.T. Farm" is super-popular and that must be exciting! Why don't you tell us, in your own words, about your character Fletcher, and how you two are similar and different?

Jake: Fletcher goes to Webster High School, but he's only 11 years old. He's a quirky kid who's really good at art. His main flaw is that he has a huge crush on his classmate Chyna. He gets really nervous around Chyna sometimes when he flirts with her, and makes weird comments. Fletcher and I are similar because we sometimes flirt with girls in a way that's very obvious, and makes us look like a dork! We're different in that he's way good at art, and I am the worst artist on the face of the earth.

IML: What are you really good at that he's not so good at?

Jake: Well, I do tumbling, which is flips and tricks and stuff. I've been doing that for 2 years. I love that. I don't think Fletcher would be so good at that.

IML: The crush that Fletcher has on Chyna is pretty funny. Have you ever had a crush like that?

Jake: I feel like Fletcher's pretty deep into Chyna and I've never felt quite that way about someone. When you're a tween and a teen, you just think every crush is love...Actually, I don't think anyone really knows the definition of love no matter how old you are. I think it takes time to understand.

IML: What would you like to see happen for Fletcher in the future?

Jake: Truthfully, I would like to see Fletcher interact with his art teacher. Are they friends? Does the art teacher not like Fletcher because he corrects him sometimes? I'd like to see how that would play out.

IML: How do you get along with the other cast members? Is it like you really all are going to school together?

Jake: We get along great! Even though we're all doing different school programs, when we're on set we all work in the classroom together and it's like a school environment. For fun, we do a lot of Nerf gun games, going around shooting each other with Nerf guns. Sometimes we play basketball, and other times we go to other show sets and do Nerf gun wars with them!

IML: What's been the most fun scene on the show for you to shoot?

Jake: There's one scene in one of the episodes, I don't want to say which one, but Fletcher gets splattered with a pie in the face. That was so much fun! It wasn't actually a pie, it was shaving cream and graham cracker crust. So it didn't taste so good but it looked great on camera, and it was super fun to do!

IML: Who's the coolest person you've met in your career so far, and what did you learn?

Jake: I would say Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow when I worked on "Dexter." That was fun because they're both Method actors, and Method actors really get into the character before a scene, they become the character and they're not themselves anymore. I saw that with them, and it was phenomenal. They did an awesome job and I was genuinely stunned by how well they jumped into character, how their facial expressions changed.

IML: Do you do other sports besides tumbling?

Jake: I play on a soccer team. I played all last year, I did regular soccer and then I did all-star teams. I do tumbling and flips, there's a gym I go to for that. Since I'm homeschooled, I don't get much kid interaction, so I started at this gym and I got to meet other kids. I actually met one of my best friends there, we hang out all the time. It's sort of like a fun thing, but I also go there to learn, because I'd like to do my own stunts in the future. When I do go, I get there feeling stressed and when I leave, I feel happy.

IML: Thanks for chatting with us! It's been great getting to know you better. Good luck with everything!

Jake: Thanks!