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Nickelodeon has been paving the way for bonafide actors for decades, and Cree Cicchino is the network's latest rising star. The 14-year-old landed her first role as Babe Carano in Dan Schneider's Game Shakers sitcom, which premiered on Sept. 15, 2015. The show focuses on two 7th grade friends, Babe and Kenzie Bell (Madisyn Shipman), whose science project quickly turns into a popular gaming app that catches the eye of rap billionaire Double G (Nickelodeon veteran Kel Mitchell).
As part of Fuse's Teen Takeover Week, we chatted with Cicchino about her role on Game Shakers, why she already considers herself a grandma, a love for competitive dancing (and Beyoncé) and much more.
FUSE: What was the defining moment that made you want to pursue acting?
Cree Cicchino: I don’t know if I really had one. I grew up as a competition dancer and I’ve been dancing since I was 4, so I’ve always loved performing in front of people. Every now and then I would have to go to a studio a little bit farther from home where my sister danced. So when I had nothing to do, my mom and I said “Hey, why don’t we try acting? Let’s give it a shot.” We weren’t really expecting anything. So I took a little monologue class and after three months we had a showcase. We didn’t know what was happening; we thought it was just for the parents and teachers. And they said, “No, people from the industry are coming.” I did my monologue, I think it was about Little Bo Peep [laughs], and the next day like five people called us. Then I ended up with a manager and an agent, and found myself in California doing a tv show!
I know you're a Queens girl. Was it hard transitioning to Los Angeles?
Just the energy out here is different. The fact that it never snows is weird! Every time it rains people don’t go outside for three days. Like what are you doing, it’s just rain [laughs]. So it was definitely an adjustment, but I really do love it out here.
How did you score your role on Game Shakers?
I landed it just like how anyone else would land the role. It was basically my first job; I really hadn’t acted before. I was very new, but I auditioned and then I got a call back. Then it was a lot of flying back to L.A. and then back to home to New York. After a few meetings I landed the pilot.
Have you had embarrassing moments on set of the show?
Oh all the time! There was actually this one scene where I was trying on dresses because we had to go to this party. I was running in a room back and forth wearing heels. So I took a dress off the rack and as I’m running towards the back of the Game Shakers [set] I completely slipped under myself and fell so hard! But me trying to keep it going, I stood up, looked back and the entire cast was on the verge of hysterical laughter. I improvised a quick line that went with the scene, finished my mark and Dan [Schneider, the show creator] liked it so much that he kept it in. And it actually aired in the episode.
So what has been your favorite episode to shoot so far?
It hasn’t aired yet! I’ll tell you that it’s very iconic and when you see it on TV you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Kel Mitchel also stars on the show and he's a Nickelodeon veteran. Do you get any advice from
Kel is just in incredible. Not even just as an actor, but as a person. When we have 7 o’clock call times and everyone on set is asleep, he comes on set and literally sings us a song every single morning. “Good morning beautiful PEOPLEEEE!” Everybody wakes up and starts laughing! He is just great. I’ve personally learned a lot by just watching how he delivers his lines, or how he messes up but manages to keep going and make it funnier. And all of his improve too. In the middle of a line maybe he’ll decide to run up to a trampoline and start jumping on it just because he can. I’m so honored to be working with someone who I can learn so much from.
Nickelodeon and Disney are known for shaping some of the biggest
teen stars like Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande. Do you feel confident that you’re one of
the next teens to take over TV?
I know I will definitely try! I’ve developed such a love for acting and all I can hope for is longevity and to do more respected work.
“Beyoncé is the CEO of Beyoncé!”
Is it hard to balance normal teen life going to movies or mall with work?
In some ways not at all. I don’t really met fans a lot on the street. It’ll happen once or twice if I’m with other Nick stars. It can get a little difficult balancing school and work. Right now I’m on hiatus so it’s a bit easier now that I don’t have too much to do and I’m not on set for 9 hours a day every single day. When you work a long day you just want to go home and sleep, but you do have homework. Or when it’s the weekend and you’re dead from the week and don’t even want to move from your bed, but you want to go out to Universal with friends. So it can be a little harder sometimes. But it doesn’t affect me too much.
What are some things you like to do when you have time off?
Honestly I find so much relaxation just laying down with the dogs and binge-watching shows. It’s important to have your down time. All of my friends know that if I’m tired and I just want to go somewhere, then we’ll have a froyo date and eat way too much!
I know Beyoncé is one of your biggest inspirations, what is it about her that you connect with?
First of all, dancing-wise…like I said I was in competitions and did all sorts of styles from ballet to tap. When I moved out here, I focused more on hip-hop and jazz, and that’s what Beyoncé does. I just love her voice, where she could pull off R&B songs and then a pop song and then she’ll go really slow. I think I’ve always been inspired by the fact that she works so hard for herself 24/7. Beyoncé is the CEO of Beyoncé! I also really admire that she took time to take breaks in between tours because she needs to be a real person now and then.
Being of Ecuadorian background, do you think Latin representation on TV can improve?
Of course. We’ve got so much work to do, but it is starting to flourish. One of my favorite shows is Jane the Virgin. Me and my mom found it and we binge-watched an entire season in one day. It’s such a great representation of Latino families and Gina Rodriguez is so ridiculously talented. So there’s definitely a lot more to be done, but we’re at a good start right now.
Do you feel pressure to prove yourself in the industry because of
No actually, not really. All the castmates who are also 14, I think we try to stay very professional. And the adult crew members are open to hearing our ideas and the writers room likes to hear our opinions on things. Same with Dan and the director. They all do a great job of taking us seriously.
Who are some of your favorite teen actors and singers at the moment?
There are so many great ones. I think Sabrina Carpenter is such a talented singer. And even my friends on Nickelodeon, I respect all of them so much. Rowan Blanchard is amazing. She says some really great things and shares her opinion quite outwardly, which I really respect.
You use social media a lot! Any favorite memes recently?
I don’t think I actually ever posted a meme. But just from looking at them…you know the one with that guy on the phone looking really mad? That one’s a classic! I’m hysterical every time I see that guy.
Is there anything you think adults don’t understand about teens?
I’m more of an old lady than a teenager! I’m always at home with the dogs, drinking tea and watching TV. But for everyone it’s different. I think kids have a lot of thoughts and creativity that doesn’t get taken as seriously by adults. I think they have so much potential that’s not being looked at.
Keep the Teen Takeover fun going with this throwback Fuse interview with Paramore's Hayley Williams: