Leon Thomas III is the star of the hit Nickelodeon television show “Victorious.” For the first time ever, the cast of “Victorious” teamed up with the cast of “iCarly” to bring you a special called “iParty with Victorious.”
The 90 minute special first aired this weekend and it’s a must see. There’s tons of great music brought to you by a great cast.
We had a chance to sit down with Leon to discuss the “iParty” special, his music career and being on Broadway at the young age of 10. Check out the interview and make sure you check out “iParty with Victorious” airing now on Nickelodeon.
GG: The big “iParty with Victorious” special is coming on June 11th and it seems like it’s going to be a lot of fun, but a little bit of drama as well. Can you tell us a little bit about the special?
Well basically, this episode is about a player. Tori Vega and iCarly they are both dating this guy and think he’s really great. He’s really nice and seems cool on the outside, but he’s really playing both of them. He’s dating iCarly in Seattle and Tori in California so iCarly figures out that he is playing her. She wants to go find out and go to this party that my character Andre is throwing at Kenan Thompson’s house. So they come to the party and meet the cast of “Victorious” and it’s a real wacky time. I can’t wait for everyone to check this episode out because not only is there some great acting and lots of funny stuff, but there is also some really good music. It’s going to be pretty crazy.
You play Andre in “Victorious,” would you say that you are similar to him in real life?
Both me and Andre are very musically inclined. We love to write songs. I like to call myself a really cool songwriter. I love to sing as well and produce. We have that in common; our musicality is very similar.
You play 5 different instruments, which one is your favorite?
I play guitar the most because it’s such a good storytelling instrument. I can really show all of my emotions by strumming on the guitar. I write most of my songs on guitar right now, so I would have to say guitar.
We know that you are working on your debut album, what can we expect from that?
I want you guys to expect some new flavors; I’m doing something a little different. It’s not what you are hearing on the radio completely. Of course it’s pop, of course it’s marketable, but because I’m a live musician and I love live music, my album is going to feature live drums. It’s going to feature me playing the guitar on all of the songs. It’s going to be a really good feeling album that takes you back to some of the old school Prince records and the Stevie Wonder feel that music is missing today.
Do you have any expectations of when the album is going to be coming out?
Hopefully soon. I’m working with the label to figure out the right timing because dropping an album is all about timing and I’m just making sure my sound is as tight as it can be and that I come into the scene running pretty much.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I’m a big fan of Donnie Hatthaway. I’m a huge fan of Prince, he’s like one of my all time favorites. Stevie Wonder, of course Michael Jackson. I’m a pretty old school cat; I also like Ryan Leslie, I think he’s really talented.
So you like “sangers”?
Oh yeah, I like me some sangers. I like people who can really get down.
If you were on a deserted island and you can only bring three albums with you, what would they be?
“Songs in the Key of Life” (Stevie Wonder) I can’t get enough of it, “Abbey Road” (The Beatles), what else would I take with me? Ah man, “Thriller” (Michael Jackson). I love Michael so that would be everything.
That’s a pretty eclectic mix, especially for someone your age. It seems like you are ahead of your time.
Yes, my mom use to call me an old soul, but you know I enjoy everything. I enjoy a lot of the stuff that’s out today. Chris Brown’s album was really dope you know and I been really into that. I’m into everything.
Your 18th birthday is coming up in August, do you have any big plans? Anything you want to do?
I was just thinking about that. Me and my mom were talking, she’s like, ‘Do you want to do a party, do you want to hang out?’ You know what honestly, I’m trying to be a responsible adult. You know what I want? I want get myself a nice little car and I want to set my studio up. I might do dinner or something and really invest party money into something that I can build off of. But I might do a little party, I don’t know. I might just be talking crazy now and want a party later.
Anything else besides a car you would want as a birthday present?
You know what I would really want, I know this is pretty sentimental, but I just want my music career to jump off the second day of my eighteenth year. I want to just step into 18 and walk onto a tour or I would like to be dropping a single or something. I don’t know, maybe you should talk to my label and tell them, ‘Drop his single.’
You’ve been in the business forever, since you were 10 when you were cast in “The Lion King,” so what motivates you to keep on going?
It’s a true passion for me. A lot of people come into this business for whatever reason, whether it be music, money, girls, fame whatever, but for me it’s really about my passion for this. 10 years ago, I’ll never forget this moment, I was walking on stage, it was probably my second performance and I was performing, I was doing my thing and I had a second to kind of breathe on stage. But I looked out into the audience and I saw this little girl and she was just smiling and the fact that I had the ability and that I was a part of something that had the ability to make someone happy no matter what she was going through that week or that year. I really take that very important. I really take that to heart.
So your fans motivate you?
Yes, my fans play a huge part. The fact that they enjoy my music or the roles I play on television or in a movie, it just makes me happy to know that I can make other people smile.
You started “The Lion King” at 10; what was that like for you doing that at such a young age and being cast in such a big show?
It’s not that I thought it was a game, but I just didn’t take it that serious. It was like Ehh, I’m on Broadway, cool. Fun. My mom is a singer and she said you know you should audition for “The Lion King,” you have the hair, you look like young Simba. So I auditioned for it and they pretty much booked me on the spot and from that point I went from being a regular kid going to school and playing basketball, to being on Broadway and it was a crazy experience for me. I’ll never forget it.
How would you describe the transition from doing Broadway, to now doing film and television?
It was a different situation because on Broadway we work so hard and we do like 8 shows a week. Not to say we don’t work hard in television, but it’s a totally different field. We do 8 shows a week, there’s no catering, it’s more so about straight up art and going, going, going hard. When I got to television I was expecting crazy, hectic schedule and they had catering and a nice trailer. It was like a total different deal. But what’s really important about Broadway is that instant gratification. In television when you get there it’s really all about perfecting it and making it work. You get a couple of trials to try it out; it was just a totally different field for me and I got love for both situations.
What is like on the set of “Victorious”? Are you guys just randomly busting into song?
We are probably the craziest cast Nickelodeon has on the air right now. Especially when we get around any of the other casts. We’re a very musical cast; we sing a lot, we write a lot of songs, so pretty much it’s all about the music in between takes. We’re always jamming and feeding off of each other and telling jokes. It’s a hectic scene but a fun scene.
You are so busy, so what do you like to do in your down time?
When I have down time, I really like to chill with my friends. We’ll go out and have movie nights, we’ll do bowling. I’m a real laid back type of dude. I’m not into the whole party scene that much. For the most part I just like kicking it with the people I love.
What would you say is your favorite food?
Lemme tell you, I love me some good soul food. I’m actually a feen. I like me some Roscoe’s. If it feels home cooked, I’m happy. My mom makes really dope Mac and cheese, so I gotta have really good macaroni and cheese.
What would you say is your favorite movie?
My favorite movie, it’s like an old school flick, “The Last Dragon” and I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but this dude Bruce Leroy. It’s just funny; I just like campy films. I don’t know; I’m crazy. “Coming to America” is one of my favorites too.
We were reading that April 16th was official Leon Thomas day in Kennesaw, Georgia, how did it feel to be honored like that?
It was beautiful. When my manager told me he was like, ‘Yeah man we got you the key to the city and you’re going to be having your own day’ and I was like ok cool, this is a really great honor. But when I really got out there and I saw how much my work with the teen center really meant to the people out there, it made the situation even more special. We did a little fundraiser for the teen center and we just really hooked it up. Like I said, the whole reason I’m in the industry is to make people smile and make people happy. We saw a lot of smiles out there in Atlanta.
Tell us about your plans this summer, you are going to be traveling and performing on the Norwegian cruise ship in July?
Ooh yes lord; I can’t wait. I’m going to be maxing and relaxing, I’m telling you that only for that time though. For the rest of the time, I’ll be working on my album and hopefully doing a lot of performances. I’m looking to do a lot more live shows and just show people what’s going on with my music. So other than going out to Spain and Italy; I’m going to be just working hard and making sure that people get a chance to listen to my music.
Where do you get your strong work ethic from because you have been working non-stop since you were 10?
You know what, I actually get it from my grandpa. He’s probably one of the hardest working men in show business. He’s a opera singer; he sang at the Met and I grew up watching him work. He’s 77 and still works every weekend, every week he finds a gig to do. He has enough cash to just lay back and chill, but he’s not that type of dude. I’m looking to be like him when I’m older. Keep moving no matter what.
Anything else you want to plug and let your fans know about?
I just want to let everyone know about my Twitter; if you’re not following me my twitter is @LeonThomas3 so check me out there and you will get links to my YouTube videos and to anything that is going on. If you want to stay connected, that’s the place to be.