Interview with Jordana Beatty Star of Judy Moody and Author Megan McDonald

By Angela Quisumbing, SDBM Columnist 

Last week I had the opportuntiy of representing Team SDBM to interview the child star of the movie Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, Jordana Beatty, and author of the Judy Moody book series, Megan McDonald. I had such a fun time chatting with these two lovely and talented ladies.

Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer is all about creativity and imagination. In the movie, Judy sets out to have the best summer ever. She discovers that her parents are leaving her “to die of starvation, boredom and stinkdom,” while they venture off to California. If that isn’t bad enough, the mysterious Aunt Opel will be their babysitter. What Judy doesn’t know is that she’s in for a “thrill-adelic” surprise! 

As I walked into the pool deck atop the Se Hotel in downtown San Diego, I was taken aback by this very bright and energetic being dressed in fashionable clothing. It was Jordana Beatty! I was immediately impressed with her adorable smile and professional demeanor. She was so outgoing and well spoken for, and did I mention adorable!? Megan McDonald was a charmer herself, her laugh was contagious and her attitude so uplifting. During our interview I could tell both were excited, humble and grateful as ever as they dreamed of deep fried kool-aid at the San Diego Fair (it awaited them later that afternoon), and of course the release of the film Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer, which hit theaters, June 10th! 

Check out what these mom blogger supporters had to say, and I quote, “Who else would you trust more than another mom to tell you what to go see?” -Megan McDonald 

SDBM: How did you start your career in acting?

Jordana Beatty: I was about four and I did my first commercial; and from then on I did like a lot more, I did some TV shows in Australia, and this came along, so it’s very exciting!

SDBM: They were searching all over the world for the perfect Judy Moody. How did you feel when you got actually got the part?

JB: I was very excited! I can’t even think of any other way to explain it. I was exuberant (Jordana emphasizes as Megan calls her Miss New York Times – we all laugh).  

SDBM: Can you relate to Judy Moody in real life?

JB: Yeah, because I already read the books, so I had a good insight to her, and the part came natural with her, so that made it easier. So I had a lot of fun playing her every day. 

SDBM: How was it working alongside with Heather Graham, as your Aunt Opel?

JB: She was really nice and really fun and always playing games, and she really likes yoga so we did that.

Megan McDonald: She was always getting the kids to do yoga. Heather loves to dance so the freeze dance scene wasn’t originally in the script and she wanted to burst out and have fun with the kids. So we danced!  

SDBM: What was your most favorite scene to shoot?

JB: I have three and I can’t decide! The Tight Rope scene, that was really tough to film…Freeze Dance, because you didn’t have to follow the script you just do whatever you wanted…the Circus because it was so colorful, there was elephants and ponies, people doing gymnastics…balloons! (Laughing)  

SDBM: What was the most challenging scene to shoot?

JB: The roller coaster scene! Going up was…scary…The whole thing was just terrible, horrifying. I would never go again.  

SDBM: How did you create the character of Judy Moody? Is she a part of you as a child/adult?

MM: It starts with the messy hair. I wanted to be a scientist when I was around her age so I had this microscope and I had all these collections of insects…so some of that was kind of inspired by me. Also I am a mood person, I have a lot of moods, ups and downs so I really wanted to explore the idea of moods because I think we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about bad moods.  

SDBM: When you met Jordana Beatty, did she seem like the perfect Judy Moody?

MM: I was so psyched to meet her…by the time I met her she already had the Judy Moody haircut…She was in the classic, I ate a shark shirt! And I was like, yayyy! And we’re both readers so we connected right away, we read a lot of the same books, we like Nancy Drew…we connected immediately by being readers. We had a lot of connections right from the beginning.  

SDBM: Judy Moody has proven to help celebrate literacy for young girls. Did you expect the book to be used as such a tool all over the world and to be published in 20 languages?

MM: I never really imagined that the book would catch on the way it did. And I think it was really a grassroots thing among kids themselves who were ready the book cause in the early years, a lot of teachers would say to me that they didn’t know about Judy Moody and all of a sudden they’d look up at their classroom and they’d see like 5 different kids reading Judy Moody, and they were like what’s this. So that was how they found out because it was something the kids were really drawn to and they found out from the kids. It just kind of grew to more and more readers and I think…it had such a friendly format, it has larger print and (name) the illustrator just kept drawing things everywhere, we kind of just broke the mold for a novel of that size….We just kind of went crazy with this. 150 pages long…people in the publishing industry said, kids just aren’t going to read this book…I had so many moms come up through my signing line and tell me how much the books have meant to their daughters.  

SDBM: How do you celebrate summer? Do you have a Mega-Rare-Not-Bummer-Summer-Dare Chart?

JB: I’ve never had a dare chart before…I guess I just decide what I’m gonna do that morning, because if the weather’s bad, I‘m like oh we should go to the movies. Or oh, the weather’s great let’s go to the beach! Normally whenever the weather’s great no one has even has to say anything I just put on a swimsuit and go to the beach. Sometimes I just wanna relax, so I just go with the flow and decide the morning of. I’ve never done a chart but that’s a good idea!  

SDBM: Can we expect to see more of Judy Moody on the big screen?

Both: We hope so!! (Smiling with excitement) 

It was so much fun representing Team SDBM and interviewing these Jordana and Megan. They even gave us a shout out with a tongue twister of our own. Watch it here. And don’t forget to go and see Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer in theaters now!

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