Meet & Greet: Jennifer Veal Talks ‘Jessie’, Debby Ryan & Meeting One Direction
Like fellow Brits One Direction and The Wanted, Jennifer Veal is taking the US by storm. Starring in Disney’s hit show Jessie as both the evil Nanny Agatha and her equally deceitful twin Angela, Veal has become quite the sensation amongst Disney fans — she was even met with screams during her latest visit to Disneyland.
Celebuzz recently caught up with the 20-year-old actress where she dished about her new Jessie role, 1D’s global domination, and what was it like hitting Debby Ryan in the face with her fake tooth!
Why don’t you start us off and tell us about who you play on show?
I normally just play just one character named Agatha who is very Nanny Mcphee-esque. She’s kind of not the most pleasant person to be around. She’s got a snaggletooth and a unibrow and she has this very competitive relationship with Jessie, Debbie Ryan’s character. This Friday, I get to play twinswhich is kind of cool. I play Agatha and Angela who is, I’d like to say, the better looking twin who looks really nice but is actually just as bad as Agatha.
What was it like playing twins?
It was a lot of fun! I’ve always wanted to play twins ever since I watched The Parent Trap and learned the handshake. I was like, “I have to play twins at some point in my life!” I spoke to myself a lot but it was great.
How long does it take to get into your Agatha costume and makeup?
It took a while. I was often first in makeup so they kind of put it out of the way and they get just the rest of the cast through. It’s very minimal with foundation and blush — I don’t get any of that good stuff. I just get literally a drawn on moustache and a couple of moles. But they mold this kind of gum stuff into the shape of my tooth [for my snaggletooth]. So, the last episode that I shot as Agatha I could just pop my tooth in and out.
What was it like having a fake tooth?
I had a few little incidents with the one that was just a solid tooth, which wasn’t molded, and it would occasionally hit Debbie in the face! I’d be speaking and it would just pop out, or I would choke on it and I would be like, “Oh God, I’m so sorry.” It definitely made the gag reel!
You started out on a Disney show in the UK. Tell us a little bit about the transition.
I started out on As the Bell Rings on Disney UK, which is the original first ever UK series that [Disney] ever had. I guess it’s kind of an honor. It’s just a lot bigger over here I guess, which is kind of a bit scary so I’m up for anything. I’ve been very blessed with who I’ve met and where I’ve landed. Jessie is just one big family and I just enjoy going to work every day. I mean, who like to say, “Oh yes! I’ve got work tomorrow!” — but I do and I’ve love it! I am on the best Disney show in my account. I’m not going home yet. you haven’t gotten rid of me yet!
It seems like we’re having a second wave of the British invasion what with One Direction mania in the States.
I know, it’s crazy! People are going bonkers for them aren’t they?! I’ve got a lot of British actor, actress and singing friends too and it’s a lot of hard work. I don’t think it’s just from where you’re from or what country you’re from. I just think it’s about how dedicated you are to doing what you want to do and how you are going achieve it. America is the place to be. So, we are giving it a go and at the moment and we seem to be doing quite well, aren’t we? [Laughs] There’s a lot of good training in London especially.
Are you a fan of One Direction? Did you get to meet them at the Kids Choice Awards?
I am a fan! I am a fan of The Wanted as well. They are such nice guys, they really are. One of my friends writes some of their songs so I kind of had a bit of one of those, “Oh, you know my friend!” moments. They are very, very pleasant and I had a couple of my younger cousins were very excited when I said I met them. They were like, “Oh my gosh, Harry this and Harry that!” I was more like, “Oh, crumbs!”
Do you have any crazy fan stories of your own?
I was with my friends Greg Sulkin and David Henrie at Disneyland and we were walking through the crowd trying to get to the next ride and, all of a sudden, this one girl came running up to us and then screamed! I screamed and then David was like, “Ah!” and Gregg was like, “Ah!” and we were all screaming at Disneyland. It was so funny. But that girl was just going crazy for the boys, I’m telling you. We wouldn’t be where we are without the people that supported us. We’re grateful for that.
You’re friends with a lot of the Disney big names. Who is your favorite to work with?
Oh crumbs, that is such a hard one! Well Gregg Sulkin is one of my best friends. We worked together in London and he will crucify me if I don’t mention him somewhere! We are just really great friends so we have good chemistry and we played brother and sister in London on our show so that was great.
Debbie is a lot of fun. We have so many scenes together and we play characters who don’t get along and have this love-hate relationship. When we have to say these things to each other and afterwards, I say, “Oh Debs, that was awful that I had to say those things! I love your lovely little face!”
But the other person is Chris Galya. He’s a comedian and he’s really funny. We have the same sense of humor. So we’ll be doing something and I’ll kind of catch him chuckling and I’m like, “Well, at least he found it funny!”
Your costar Debby is a musician and a lot of Disney stars branch out into music. Do you think you’ll ever take on a singing career?
I would love to! Yeah, I mean I started off on the West End in London so singing was a massive part of my career. Me and Debbie do go and have little jam sessions at her house. We sing together and we are doing some covers together at the moment. You never know, you might hear one of those sometime soon! There’s more to come from me so keep your eyes and ears out!
Be sure to catch Jennifer on Jessie this Friday, May 11 on the Disney Channel!