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SPEC Connaissance invited actors Victoria Justice and Josh Peck to Irvine Auditorium on Nov. 7 to speak with the Penn community.

Credit: Andrea Barajas

Victoria Justice and Josh Peck, two actors best known for their work on Nickelodeon, spoke at Penn about their careers as childhood actors, their current projects, and advice for Penn students.

Justice and Peck spoke at Irvine Auditorium on Nov. 7 as part of Penn’s Social Planning and Events Committee Connaissance, an organization dedicated to bringing keynote speakers to Penn. Associate Director of the Platt Student Performing Arts House Megan Edelman moderated Justice and Peck’s conversation about their careers in the entertainment industry.

As attendees entered Irvine Auditorium, trivia and fun facts about Justice and Peck played on the screen before SPEC Connaissance leaders introduced the two actors. 

Edelman began the conversation by asking about Justice and Peck’s early careers as child actors. Justice explained she began modeling at age seven after being inspired by on-screen child actors to join the industry. Justice said she enjoyed acting because it was her creative outlet. 

Peck, who was also inspired by his favorite child actors, began participating in school plays and doing stand-up comedy when he was 11. Peck shared that he was insecure as a child, so he gravitated toward comedy because he could use it as a defense mechanism. 

“If I could control the situation or the energy in the room by making fun of myself first before [someone else] could, then that was great,” he said. 

After booking small commercials and his first movie, “Snow Day,” Peck ultimately landed a role on “The Amanda Show and started his successful career as a Nickelodeon actor. 

Justice and Peck also discussed their lives as public figures, both emphasizing the harmful impact of social media and cyberbullying. 

“Sometimes we have these insecurities, and someone says something, and it invalidates our worst fears about ourselves,” Peck said. “It helps to have that armor that you can learn to acquire after you go through these moments [of hate].”

The pair offered advice for Penn students combating anxiety. When asked about overcoming her interview fears, Justice told the audience to try to be over prepared since it can help build confidence. Being physically active has also helped her improve her mental health, Justice said.

Both Justice and Peck urged the audience to push themselves toward their goals and stay ambitious.

“There has never been a better time [to start creating content] because you don’t have to live on the coasts, and you don’t need to have an agent or manager,” Peck said. “If it’s compelling, it will find an audience.” 

Justice also explained that she does not put pressure on herself when she feels uninspired. She recommended students take a step back from a project to enjoy life, where inspiration can naturally come. 

“Switch up the environment, rent an Airbnb somewhere on the beach or the woods, go on a vacation, do something spontaneous, do something out of your comfort zone,” Justice said. 

"Everything Everywhere All At Once" star Stephanie Hsu spoke at the Harrison Auditorium in the Penn Museum for SPEC's spring 2023 speaker event.