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. 

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.

Victoria Justice 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.

Victoria Justice has two such typecasting roadblocks in her way. First, she was 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 simply 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 and Castle Rock) 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 like 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 fan base 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 explore 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.

Victoria Justice dared cross Ariana Grande

Over the 2010 to 2013 run of Victorious on Nickelodeon, star Victoria Justice and scene-stealer Ariana Grande made 57 episodes of kid-com TV magic together. But, unfortunately, there were rumors that they maybe kind of hated each other. That's right — Justice and Grande seemingly 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 left Victorious far behind to become one of the biggest pop stars in the world, scoring chart-toppers like "7 Rings," "Thank U, Next," "Problem," and "No Tears Left to Cry."

Victoria Justice 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 Horror remake rocked a lowly score of 28 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, Victoria Justice 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.

She still pops up on TV for an episode or two

Since MTV discontinued Eye Candy in 2015, star Victoria Justice continued to appear on television — just not as regularly or in the starring roles she once enjoyed. After showing up on two episodes of Undateable (playing a fetching singer named Amanda), the actress appeared on a couple installments of Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life as a deceptively nice cutthroat businessperson. Justice then put in an appearance on Matt LeBlanc's Man with a Plan as a babysitter, as well as a passive-aggressive classroom helper on American Housewife. 

What do all these shows have in common? None of them are exactly high-profile. Undateable and Cooper Barrett were both short-lived and little-watched sitcoms, while Man with a Plan and American Housewife are middlingly successful network offerings overshadowed by flashier entries in this age of "Peak TV." While Justice certainly gave every part her all, those brief and fleeting roles just didn't reignite her career.

Victoria Justice advocated for an unlikely Victorious reunion

To move into the future, one must sometimes look to the past ... and latch onto it. As the TV industry has been obsessed with reboots and reunions in more recent years, it seems like any at least mildly successful show has staged a comeback, everything from Twin Peaks to All That. Basically, the climate is theoretically ripe for some kind of Victorious revival. It's not something that's been publicly announced or anything — at least as of this writing in 2020 — but Victoria Justice, perhaps looking for a boost from revisiting familiar territory, is already very much on board.

"If the decision was ever made to do a reunion, I'd be down for that, and I think everyone else would be too," Justice told HuffPost back in 2016. "It was all kind of like a theoretical thing, and it never really came to fruition." Seeing as how Justice made these comments years ago, during which time costars Ariana Grande and Elizabeth Gilles became far too busy to likely revisit their old sitcom, more Victorious episodes probably aren't on the way to help revive Justice's career.

'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 only in her mid-twenties, 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.

Near the end of the 2010s, Justice starred in two potentially major film projects. One of them was 2019's Summer Night, an ensemble comedy-drama in the vein of Love Actually about a bunch of young couples falling in and out of love. Justice played a character named Harmony, opposite Shameless actor Justin Chatwin and America's Next Top Model contestant Analeigh Tipton. Justice's other major recent film: Bigger, a 2018 biopic about Joe and Ben Weider, the brothers who basically started America's obsession with fitness in the mid-20th century. The actress co-starred as Kathy Weider, Joe Weider's first wife. 

Unfortunately, neither Summer Night nor Bigger enjoyed a wide release, and Justice wasn't even featured on the poster of the latter. It looks like it might be a while until there's justice for Justice.