Rachel Crow settles into Nickelodeon gig
Just last year, she was the spunky 13-year-old girl charming "The X Factor's" panel of judges with her sassy rendition of "Mercy." A few months later, she was the girl who fell to the floor sobbing and wailing after an earlier-than-expected elimination sent her packing from the reality competition. These days, she's being groomed to be Nickelodeon's next teen sensation.
"Tired is not really in my vocabulary anymore," said Rachel Crow. On a recent weekday, the Colorado native is seated in a chair inside the Nickelodeon offices in Santa Monica, her feet barely touching the floor. She's every bit the bubbly personality that she exuded during her "X Factor" debut as she speaks with aplomb about her new endeavors. She's almost a little too poised (as you may surmise from her answers) for her age, now 14.
"It's amazing to think that a small town girl like me can find themselves on Nickelodeon," she said.
Crow, who is now a Sherman Oaks transplant, will star in her own show on the network in the near future. But before then, she's getting comfortable on the youth-centered network with a recurring role on "Fred: The Show"--she plays Starr, Fred’s (Lucas Cruikshank) spirited, yet awkward classmate who--fittingly--has ambitions to be a famous actress and singer. She made her debut last week, and in Friday's episode continues her arc.
"Honestly, shooting the show wasn't the easiest thing in the world," said Crow, who thought the gig was "so cool" because she was familiar with Cruikshank from his YouTube videos. "But it wasn't the hardest either. It was just a really fun experience. It was a great first show to be able to work on with all those amazing people. And it's a fun way to see what I can expect when I get my own show."
That Crow found a home on Nickelodeon is only logical. The network has an affinity for actors with a music crossover appeal (see: Big Time Rush, Victoria Justice, Cymphonique Miller, etc). Crow, in fact, landed a record deal with Sony Music's Columbia Records in partnership with her "X Factor" mentor Simon Cowell's company, Syco. In addition to "Fred: The Show" being part of her Nickelodeon tutorial, a gig as the opening act for Big Time Rush this summer will prep her for what might be to come.
"I always thought, 'Wow, that'd be cool to get up there and do what they do," she said. "But I never thought that some day I actually would be doing what they do."
Especially considering she used to be the one watching the shows on the network. "Oh my gosh, I hate to admit this, but I was in love with SpongeBob. He's hilarious. I love 'iCarly'--me and my sister, even though she's 10 -- it is such a great show for both age groups. It's one of those things where Nickelodeon is not just played in homes around the world but it's a home for kids around the world."
Paula Kaplan, Nickelodeon’s executive vice president, talent strategy and West Coast operations, said folks at the network were "obviously" aware of Crow from the moment she appeared on Fox's singing competition. And given Nickelodeon's partnership with Sony Music, and Sony's dealings with Simon Cowell's company, a meeting with Crow was inevitable. And so was getting her onboard the Nick train.
"Once you meet Rachel, you want to be in the Rachel Crow business," said Kaplan, who added that Crow, who had tried her hand at stand-up comedy, performed a couple of characters for her--which sealed the deal. "She had so much energy, so much enthusiasm. She was so excited by everything. And she wasn't acting--she's totally genuine."
Crow, who made sure to note she's not a girly girl or a tomboy but "both," said she hopes her first album has a retro/Motown feel. Something fun and something that kids actually want to listen to--and adults. And, you know, something that guys want to listen to as well. It's so hard with them!" She cites CeeLo Green's edited offering "Forget You" as an example of the sound she'd like to achieve. As for her own show, which is in the early stage of development, on the network she said she hopes "the character is me. A very fun girl that loves everyone--outgoing, happy and bright."
But mostly, when it comes to the show, she "can't wait to be filmed and then have it broadcast to millions of people," she said. "My thing is, I want to share my light with the world. I want people to be like, 'I have to go home because Rachel's show is on.'"
Oh, and ... "I also can't wait to say, 'I can't talk, I have to go to my set.'"
Photo: (top) Rachel Crow in a scene from "Fred." Credit: Nickelodeon.
Photo: (bottom) Rachel Crow performing on the first season of "The X Factor". Credit: FOX