Sammi Hanratty is best known for her guest-starring role on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody as Holly the thief but the 13-year-old actress is quickly becoming a household name thanks to her new role as Chrissa, the new American Girl.
JustJaredJr.com caught up with Sammi while she was in New York earlier this year and chatted with her about being the new American Girl, her “siblings” David Henrie and Jennette McCurdy and what the future has in store for her. Check it:
JJJ: Hi, Sammi! Where did you just come from?
SH: I just came from the American Girl store, signing some autographs. I was signing for like three hours! Luckily, I didn’t get blisters on my hands. (laughs)
JJJ: Are you familiar with my site, JustJaredJr.com?
SH: A bit. (shows Sammi the site) Oh, wow! That’s me from today at the American Girl store. You’re fast.
(Click inside for more of JJJ‘s interview with Sammi Hanratty…)
JJJ: Did a lot of people recognize you?
SH: Yeah, because I’m in the new American Girl movie – Chrissa Stands Strong. They [the girls] have been seeing advertisements for that. Then a lot of kids recognize me from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
JJJ: Are you used to the fame yet?
SH: Mainly, from The Suite Life, so a little bit. Sometimes when I go to Chuckie Cheese or something. (laughs)
JJJ: Tell us about your character, Chrissa, the New American Girl.
SH: Well, Chrissa has to move to a new town and a new school. She’s kind of shy in the beginning and then she tries to open up to people. She has to deal with these kids who are bullies in her school. She has to be able to find her courage and her strength to speak out for herself and her friends. It’s a tough journey and it’s really hard for her, so she has to try to talk to her parents without being a tattle.
JJJ: Chrissa is also a swimmer. Do you swim any or participate in any kind of sports?
SH: I swim like crazy. I am like a human fish in the water. It’s really fun and really cool. My cousins and I race every summer. In a huge pool, [I can probably do three laps] without getting completely worn out.
JJJ: Had you read any of the “American Girl” stories?
SH: I actually read a lot of the Nicky books because I love animals and he was all about the service dogs.
JJJ: You guest-starred in a few episodes of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody as thief Holly. What was your experience like?
SH: It was so much fun because I got to play a mean con-artist, which was awesome. The boys [Dylan and Cole Sprouse] and Ashley [Tisdale], they’re all so nice and they are just the sweetest people. I felt like I was going home to a big family. It was fun to be the mean girl for a change.
JJJ: Are you clumsy?
SH: Extremely. I’m an accident waiting to happen! (laughs)
JJJ: I read that you’re kind of emotional, that you don’t like saying goodbye to people. Now that you’re doing so many projects, how do you deal with that?
SH: I’ve actually realized that I see the people that I work with a whole lot except when I’m out of state. That’s the hardest for me, especially when I’m out of the country. One time I was going to Bulgaria and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see everybody. I was like, ‘Wait, no!’
JJJ: How do you keep in touch?
SH: Email, mostly. It’s hard to call because you have to go through all this ‘Dial one, dial two’ stuff. I don’t have my own computer yet. So once I get my own computer, I’ll probably start with video chat. (stares over at her mom)
JJJ: You also played young Chuck on Pushing Daisies. How fun was that series?
SH: It was canceled, which is sad but I’m still able to see everyone. The show is a really good show. I’m really glad of all the success it’s had.
JJJ: What is your favorite tv show right now?
SH: I really like Psych. I watch iCarly and Wizards of Waverly Place.
JJJ: Who are some of your favorite Nick and Disney stars?
SH: One of my ‘sisters’, I call her ‘Big Sis’ is Jennette McCurdy. I love her in iCarly and I love her character. We’re like sisters. David Henrie is like my brother. I know a lot of them, but I’m also really big fans of them. David, he’s my brother. I spend the night at their house all the time. I really would want to meet Miley [Cyrus]. I’ve never met her.
JJJ: What are some things you like to do with David? Does he play pranks on you?
SH: He hasn’t played pranks on me… yet. But I never know with him! He’s always playing the guitar being all cool.
JJJ: What do you like to do for fun?
SH: I love to roller-blade and ice skate. I’m actually going ice-skating soon. Jennette is an ice-skater and she’s really, really good. But I’ve never ice-skated with her.
JJJ: Who do you hope to work with one day?
SH: Actually, I would really love to work with David one day. It would be really fun because I see him now as a good friend, but it would be really cool to work with him. He’s awesome. I would love to work with Nicole Kidman. I want to go see her new film, Australia. I think it’s made by the same person (Baz Luhrmann) who did Moulin Rouge and that’s one of my favorite movies.
JJJ: Did you listen to the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge?
SH: Yes, I do. I love “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.”
JJJ: You’re starring in a new film called Kalamity and it’s a bit of a thriller. How big is your role?
SH: When I worked on it, it didn’t have a title. I did it in Virginia, it’s a scary movie. I don’t know if there’s a release date or not. I think they’re still starting to edit it. The main character is my brother in the film and he comes home and he’s all weird.
JJJ: Who are your inspirations in the business? Who do you look up to?
SH: Amanda Bynes, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. They all seem really down-to-earth and they’re amazing actors.
JJJ: What kind of music do you listen to?
SH: Taylor Swift! This is gonna sound weird, I love classic music so ABBA, is another. I’m really into them as well as Guns ‘n Roses. I know, I’m a little weird.
JJJ: Have you ever sang karaoke?
SH: I’ve done some karaoking a couple of times and I’m really bad at it. I feel like I should be screaming when I’m up there. I’m not that good.
JJJ: Do you have a favorite song of the moment?
SH: “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift. I just love it.
JJJ: Do you have any unusual hobbies?
SH: I like playing badminton. It’s kind of strange for a kid to be playing badminton. I also am obsessed with board games right now. I love playing Monopoly and Life. I love those and they’re like the two longest games in the world. my cousins are so mad at me because every time I go there, we have to play and I’m like, ‘But I’m only gonna be here for a little bit, please?’
JJJ: Are you the one who always has to win?
SH: Most of the time, I’m not a very fair player. (laughs) But it’s fun.
JJJ: Which properties do you go after in Monopoly?
SH: I have a strategy where I pay for everything I land on. Until I run out of money, and then I start to mortgage it.
JJJ: You don’t have a good luck charm, but you pray. Do you go to church often?
SH: I do pray and I go to church every Sunday. My entire family is really religious.
JJJ: Do you have a favorite Bible story?
SH: I really like Adam and Eve. There’s something about that one that I really like. It’s just the way it’s told and me, it’s more what I can understand. Some of the other stories in the Bible, I’m only 13 and I’m questioning what they mean and some of the words get me confused. Adam and Eve is kind of a story that’s life situation and sins.
JJJ: Do you ever participate in the church choir or any skits they perform?
SH: When I was eight, my cousin Christopher and I were yaks or llamas in a play and we had a really small part. We were just sitting there and it was one of the most fun things. We were just sitting there on the stairs and I never have been up the stairs before the altar. So I’m just like looking around and smiling. It was so much fun. My dad is actually playing the flute in the choir right now.
JJJ: Do you play any musical instruments?
SH: I just got the drums for Christmas, so I’m gonna start playing the drums. I’ve started to teach myself how to play the piano. I don’t know if that’s gonna work out though.
JJJ: You’re the youngest of five girls. What do your other sisters do?
SH: One of my sisters, Danielle, is on The Unit with me but she wants to be a vet, so she’s going to college and taking it easy. Acting isn’t as much as a passion for her as it is for me. She’ll keep doing The Unit, but that’s all she wants to do for right now. Another one of my sisters is going into nursing school. One sister is an editor and the last one is in college, studying health.
JJJ: What kind of editor is your one sister?
SH: She’s an assistant movie editor. She did some work on I Am Legend. She’s really good. Every year for one of my sister’s graduations, she made an hour long video of them growing up.
JJJ: You obviously travel a lot. Are you home schooled? What’s your worst subject?
SH: I am home schooled. My worst subject would probably be grammar and reading. I have some eye trouble. I can read a book and I can be interested in it, but when it comes to reading something that I really don’t care about, I really don’t care. History used to be my worst but it’s getting better. It’s not that fun.
JJJ: How many hours of school do you have to take a day?
SH: Usually, about 4-5 hours. I wish I had a lot of breaks. My mom is my teacher so she knows.
JJJ: Jim Carrey is your favorite actor and you co-star with him in the upcoming A Christmas Carol. How excited were you to work with him?
SH: He is one of the nicest guys and he is so funny, so cool and someone I look up to. It was really cool because it was motion capture. We got to be in all these funky dots and weird suits. They were black with silver polka dots all over it. I looked like a freak, but it was fun. I got to play like five different characters. They can warp your face to look like someone else so I played a belle’s daughter, a Crachet kid, ‘Want’ from want and greed. And I actually got to be a boy, which is weird. They were looking for people who knew how to ride a horse and I knew how.
I got on this mechanical horse thing and they said I was gonna be a boy. It’s weird.
JJJ: You like horses — have you ridden any yet?
SH: I have. We were in Hawaii one time and we went riding for about three hours. We were riding up and down the hills and looking over at the ocean. Except I am really really allergic to horses! I completely break out! After a few hours, I can’t breathe. I had the best time, but my entire face was red and the guide was like, ‘Are you sure you’re okay?’ I’m also really allergic to cats and I took a couple pictures with this one. I didn’t notice until I was looking back at the pictures that my eyes were all blood shot and this gross face, my hair was a mess. I looked like a monster. It was funny to look back at it… I’m also allergic to dogs, but not as bad. I have two of my own and I love them so much. Dogs don’t bother me as much.
JJJ: Let’s just look through this BOP magazine really quickly and tell me if you like anyone in here.
SH: Okay. Selena! I like Selena, she’s really sweet. Jennette and Nathan are two of my best friends. No, they’re not dating. They are like the sweetest people.
JJJ: Have you met the Jonas Brothers yet?
SH: I’ve met Nick and that’s all. I met them all and I saw them, but I don’t know them as well as I know Nick. He’s like the nicest guy. I got to meet him for the first time at Selena’s birthday party and the second time was on the Wizards set.
JJJ: Have you seen all the HSM movies?
SH: I have actually. My friend is Stella [Hudgens], who is Vanessa’s sister. I got to meet Zac [Efron] once and I guess I talked to him on the phone when I was younger. I don’t really remember that. Ashley! I love Ashley.
JJJ: What kind of boys do you like?
SH: Sporty boys who don’t think that they’re all that. That’s just obnoxious. A guy who’s fun and cool and would always be my best guy friend if it didn’t work out.
Posted to: Sammi Hanratty