Victoria Justice: Why Hollywood won't cast her anymore

After starring on Zoey 101, Victoria Justice cemented herself as a tween icon when she took on the lead role in Nickelodeon's Victorious. Set at a performing arts high school (so Fame, but with a laugh track), the show introduced Justice as a talented singer named Tori Vega. The series also gave pop star Ariana Grande and Dynasty actress Elizabeth Gillies their first tastes of fame.

And it was a good time to be on Nickelodeon, as the 2000s were truly the golden age of the popular kids' network with its wacky sitcoms about young people.

But starring on a major TV series by the age of 15, as Justice did, is no small feat and it certainly isn't easy. Thankfully Justice was rewarded for her efforts with a slew of kudos, like three Kids' Choice Awards nominations. While appearing on Victorious, Justice also stayed busy with a pop music career before going on to score some voice work and guest-star gigs. However, she's definitely not as visible as she once was during the early 2010s … and here's why.

She got Nick-ed

Hollywood has always been a stratified world of niches. Once stars get entrenched in a certain genre, style, or medium, it's hard for them to get casting agents and audiences to accept them beyond the areas where they've been pigeonholed. That's why we have terms like "Scream Queen" to describe actresses who made a name for themselves in cheesy horror movies and "Former Child Star" to label performers who struck it big when they were kids.

Justice has two such typecasting roadblocks in her way. First, she's a teen star, and second, she'll forever be linked with Victorious, the show that made her a household name. So, she may have difficulty getting taken seriously as an adult actress because she's primarily associated with kid stuff that aired on basic cable years ago. 

Some young actors from cornball cable sitcoms have left that kind of work in the past and moved on to more relevant material. Take Cole Sprouse, for instance, who went from The Suite Life of Zack & Cody to starring on the CW's dark and twisted Riverdale. However, dozens of other actors have faded into relative obscurity (like Sprouse's twin brother Dylan). So, this is a battle Justice must keep on fighting.

Fun Size was a king-sized flop

By 2012, Victorious was a huge hit with kids, and Victoria Justice was, too. So much so that Nickelodeon made the no-brainer decision to cast the actress in the lead role of a theatrical film — Fun Size. There aren't all that many Halloween movies that aren't horror movies, and Fun Size looked to fill that niche. Justice plays Wren, a high school senior who wants to go out and party with her friend April (Jane Levy of Suburgatory) on Halloween, but she's stuck watching her little brother … who disappears into the craziness of the night. Don't worry — it's a comedy that's sort of a The Hangover for tweens. 

But critics didn't find Fun Size all that fun, giving it a score of just 25 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Curiously, Justice's fanbase didn't go flock to see the movie either, as it raked in a paltry $9.4 million at the box office. At the peak of her fame and popularity, Justice was given a chance to break out …and it didn't pan out. That might have made studios less likely to cast her as the lead in movies.

Not enough people focused their eyes on Eye Candy

Where do Nickelodeon viewers go when they grow too old to watch Nickelodeon? MTV, of course, which has long offered up teen shows for teens instead of tween shows for tweens. In 2015, MTV hoped to move eyeballs over from its sister network by placing Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice at the center of a more mature drama called Eye Candy. A creepy thriller in the vein of hit scripted shows like Teen Wolf and Scream, Eye Candy was based on a book of the same name by horror master and millennial icon R.L. Stine. The plot, according to Deadline: A tech wizard named Lindy, played by Justice, gets into the online dating scene only to discover that a potential mate is a murderous cyber stalker. So, you know, the usual Tinder stuff. 

The show's ten episodes explored Lindy tracking down the deadly pursuer on the mean streets of New York with the help of a crack team of hackers. And it was a major stylistic shift for Justice, a grab at something totally out of her wheelhouse. Fans didn't respond, however, and MTV shut down Eye Candy after a single season where it averaged less than 600,000 viewers.

She dared cross Ariana Grande

Over its 2010 to 2013 run on Nickelodeon, Victorious produced two stars: Victoria Justice, of course, and scene-stealer Ariana Grande. Justice and Grande made 57 episodes of television together, but, unfortunately, there were rumors that they maybe kind of hated each other. That's right — Justice and Grande engaged in a good old-fashioned Tinseltown feud. 

For years, rumblings of a rivalry between the stars spread around young Hollywood circles and the internet. The main reason, it would seem, was that Justice made life a nightmare for Grande on the set of Victorious. Justice attempted to "set the record straight" on a January 2015 episode of The Meredith Vieira Show. "So basically, there was an article in Seventeen magazine where [Ariana] had said that she was bullied on set, and the magazine basically alluded to it being me," Justice explained. She noted that Grande had even given her a heads-up before the article came out to let her know that she was actually referring to somebody from her Broadway days — not Justice. 

"But once it got out there everyone thought I was this bully and mean to her," Justice said, "which couldn't be further from the truth."

Be that as it may, even a fictional notion that Justice is mean and difficult to work with could have hurt her reputation.

Her music career hit the wrong note

As the breakout stars of Victorious, Victoria Justice and Ariana Grande used the show to help launch singing careers … because, well, that's the kind of cross-media branding that Nickelodeon (and the Disney Channel, for that matter) loves to do. Justice's time as a singer came first, and her songs were all over the soundtrack for Spectacular!, a made-for-TV musical that was Nickelodeon's answer to High School Musical, and three Victorious compilations. Justice scored a couple of minor hits from those albums, such as "Freak the Freak Out" and "Best Friend's Brother." 

And … that's it. Justice's music career fizzled out right around the time that Victorious left the air. Without the series to showcase her music, and without her music to showcase her show, Justice got overlooked by radio stations and music buyers — the same ones who made Ariana Grande a full-fledged pop superstar. 

Since launching her music career in earnest in 2013, Grande has enjoyed a series of hit songs, including "Side to Side," "Problem," and "No Tears Left to Cry," effectively drowning out the musical stylings of her former co-star.

She won't do the Time Warp again

Broadcast TV networks have gone out of their way to make musicals happen, marketing them as massive TV events that bring the electricity of live theater to viewers at home on their couches. Some of these remakes of beloved Broadway and movie musicals have been huge hits, such as Grease, The Sound of Music, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Actors who appeared in them have earned rave reviews and a credibility boost, too — John Legend even scored an Emmy nomination!

One would think that similar cultural impact — and praise for its star — would have come for Fox's The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again, which starred Victoria Justice. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Justice had the necessary acting and musical chops to play newlywed-gone-wild Janet, taking over for Susan Sarandon, who had the role in the 1975 cult classic film version of Rocky Horror. But for some reason, this televised musical did not cause a stir. The Rocky remake rocked a lowly score of 30 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and less than five million people tuned in to watch. In other words, Justice got yet another chance to do something new, and it just didn't go her way.

As it turns out, she isn't Nina Dobrev

Sure, every actor is a unique person, who brings their own something special to a role. But, be that as it may, a lot of performers share a certain "type," and some even look near-identical. For example, Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain are both red-haired actresses who play tenacious but restrained characters. Similarly, Victoria Justice and Nina Dobrev are two performers of the same mold. Both broke through at about the same time — the late 2000s — with popular teen-oriented television series, with Justice starring in Victorious and Dobrev appearing in The Vampire Diaries. And, well, they look just like twins.

While it's certainly not a negative for either of these women to be confused with the other (they've both got fame, fortune, talent, and beauty, after all), it could definitely affect their future acting prospects. Is it possible that some casting agents may not think to consider Justice because Dobrev already read for the part and they made up their mind that she's not the "type" they're looking for? Or maybe they already saw Dobrev, turned her down, and didn't bring in Justice because they simply didn't realize that she's an entirely different person.

'Bigger' things are on the way for Victoria Justice

Victoria Justice may not be headlining a top-rated, long-running sitcom anymore, but by no means is she all washed up. First of all, she's young, and she's got plenty of time left to make it in show business — or, rather, make it again in show business. She's still working, too, and on projects that are way different than Nickelodeon sitcoms and MTV dramas. According to IMDb, Justice has two major projects set for release in 2018. One of them is Summer Nights, an ensemble comedy-drama about a bunch of young couples falling in and out of love. Justice plays a character named Harmony, opposite Shameless actor Justin Chatwin and America's Next Top Model contestant Analeigh Tipton. Justice's other major project is Bigger, a biopic about Joe and Ben Weider, the brothers who basically started America's obsession with fitness in the mid-20th century. Justice co-stars as Kathy Weider, Joe Weider's first wife. 

So, it would seem that there will yet be justice for Justice.