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Jem and the Holograms Stars Aubrey Peeples and Ryan Guzman

October 20, 2016

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kids articles

By: Lynn Barker

In Jem and the Holograms, a teen becomes an overnight internet music sensation. Can this happen in real life? Just ask Justin Bieber and hundreds like him. For shy-ish Jerrica Benton (Aubrey Peeples) it might just be too much too soon when her sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) puts her tunes on YouTube and her friends Aja (Hayley Kiyoko) and Shana (Aurora Perrineau), aspiring musicians, embark on a quest to become a superstar band.

Jem and the HologramsJem and the HologramsCourtesy of Universal

When Jerrica becomes lead singer of the band Jem and the Holograms, she feels pulled more and more away from her “real” self. Can hot road manager and band engineer Rio Pacheco (Ryan Guzman) keep her grounded?

Jem was a popular TV animated series from 1985 to 1988 so your parents might be familiar with the original story but the new film is an update. Aubrey is known as Layla Grant in the ABC drama series ”Nashville” and Ryan played Sean Asa in the fourth and fifth installments of the Step Up film series and Noah Sandborn who seduces Jennifer Lopez in The Boy Next Door. Check out what these talented young actors had to say about getting the roles, music, band bonding and making the film.

Jem and the Holograms Rockin' outJem and the Holograms Rockin' outCourtesy of Universal

Q: Aubrey, we’re heard that you are a very analog girl but also very modern. Can you talk a little about the process you went through to get the role and were you familiar with Jem beforehand?

  • Aubrey: I was not familiar with Jem beforehand. As soon as we found out what this was, we did all our research but it was under wraps what the project was. It was originally called “Hashtag Famous” then “Pink Moon” because they didn’t want people to know that they were doing JEM yet.
  • But, we all auditioned probably like five or six times each. The first time I met with (director) Jon (Chu) I thought I blew it. It was so bad. My car broke down on the way there. I parked in a no parking zone. They had to move my car for me. I was like “It’s a stick shift” and they had to find someone (to move it). I was really sweaty because of running trying to find a parking meter. I was like “I’m so sorry. I’m gross”. I think what ended up happening was Jon was like “Oh, she is quirky, just like the character”. I’m just very disorganized and messy.  I had to sing at almost every audition so it was a very long process but very collaborative.

Aubrey as Jem/Jerrica with director Jon ChuAubrey as Jem/Jerrica with director Jon ChuCourtesy of Universal

Q: Can you talk about bonding with the other girls as a band?

  • Aubrey:  We all bonded right away. We had chemistry reads and I think what’s so cool about the film is our relationship in real life comes across on the screen. Everything is so genuine and we love each other. We’re talking over each other and I think that’s natural. We had like two weeks of rehearsal beforehand so right off the bat we were spending like twelve hours together just through rehearsal so we really bonded. Steph calls it rockstar training. Thank God we get along because that would be a lot of long hours.

Jerrica (Aubrey) working on a tuneJerrica (Aubrey) working on a tuneCourtesy of Universal

Q: How excited were you when you got this iconic role?

  • Aubrey: That’s where the nerves came in for me is that we’ve changed a lot and there probably is going to be some hate (from original fans) but I feel like if we tried to replicate the series exactly, we would never have done it justice. I hope that people will respect that we are trying to bring new people into the Jem world because that’s what it did for us. We didn’t know what Jem was and now we’re in it and we love the whole Jem subculture. Hopefully it will do that for young kids today.

Jem and the Holograms Trailer

 

Q: You guys got to work with bonafied rocker chick/actress Juliette Lewis. What was that like?

  • Aubrey: She has been my role model for such a long time. I was so embarrassed when I first met her because I was like “Oh my God. We’re gonna be best friends!” But she’s so cool.
  • Ryan: I just ran up to her and called her “mom” right away and she gave me a weird look. We had a whole conversation about Brad Pitt. It was fun.

Record exec (Juliette Lewis) advises on the band's lookRecord exec (Juliette Lewis) advises on the band's lookCourtesy of Universal

Q: Ryan you were the bad boy next door in that movie with Jennifer Lopez and this character is very different.

  • Ryan: Yeah, what I did in “Boy Next Door” I definitely didn’t do in this one or it would be a different rating. But, it was awesome that I got to be a part of something so iconic and honestly one of the best parts of it was listening to the girls sing. I swear. That was one of the most nerve-wracking things for me. When they asked me to actually sing after listening to Aubrey sing, it was so intimidating. It’s one of those things that I think will captivate a very broad audience.
  • Aubrey: Thanks, Ryan.

A heart to heart with RioA heart to heart with RioCourtesy of Universal

Q: In doing your research, how much of the comic books and TV show did you pull into this and how much was your own musical background?

  • Aubrey: We studied the series constantly. We had to do our research. I think the movie is very much updated but musically, I feel like this movie is very accessible to pop radio which is awesome and for, me, I had to do my research on that. I wasn’t used to it. But (producer) Scooter Braun is incredible and he kind of led the way to that. The music is gonna be super cool for fans.

Jerrica (Aubrey) and family before fameJerrica (Aubrey) and family before fameCourtesy of Universal

Q: Was it hard to get into the actual character? And when a lot of this movie resting on your shoulders, both music and acting, which do you feel is the most challenging for you as an actress?

  • Aubrey: I do think that Jerrica/Jem is very different from me. I don’t feel like we have a lot of similarities except for the fact that I really have no idea how to use the internet either. I guess it’s challenging when you’re playing someone so different from you but for me, as an actor, that’s what I prefer because that’s what you can really sink your teeth info. I think the most important thing about this is that we did want to pay homage to the series while updating it. That’s something that we had to be very careful about and respectful of.

Jerrica/Jem after her transformationJerrica/Jem after her transformationCourtesy of Universal

Q: How much time did you actually spend with your instruments and do you feel like you’ve honed that craft?

  • Aubrey: I’ve played guitar for a few years now so I didn’t necessarily have to learn it but we did have a very short time period to learn the songs. We were all learning how to be a band and learning the songs vocally and also musically as well.
  • Ryan: I did nothing. I was working on my abs. (laughter)

The animated version of Jem and the HologramsThe animated version of Jem and the Holograms

Q: What is your own personal musical style?

  • Aubrey: I’m like a blues/jazz/rock singer. I write mostly blues music so definitely this is very different from me but I loved getting to do it because I don’t normally sing pop so it was a big learning experience as well.
  • Ryan: I listen to soul, funk, hip-hop, r&b.
  • Aubrey: You do?
  • Ryan: I love some “Tower of Power”. I was getting down to that earlier today.

Ryan as road manager RioRyan as road manager RioCourtesy of Universal

Q: What does Jem mean to you? She gives hope to a lot of kids.

  • Aubrey: I think at least one of the main messages of the series and in our film is about self-empowerment and self-expression and trying to filter out all the noise of worrying about what people think of you and just being yourself. It sounds cheeseball but I think that’s a good message for anyone at any age or generation just because you always need to be reminded of that.

Jem and the Holograms is in theaters October 23rd!

Jem and the Holograms PosterJem and the Holograms PosterCourtesy of Universal
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