Make no mistake, those of you kids out there who dream of having your own Nickelodeon series — it’s a lot harder than it looks. And it’s a lot more work. Not only are there endless rehearsals of various sorts, but there are junkets to attend, press conferences of all sorts, and if you’re really unlucky, you get to sit in a room with your dad and a bunch of other grown-ups while talking to me about your show and whatever else Nickelodeon wants you to tell me. It’s not a life most parents would recommend for their children, but some children are bound and determined, and end up loving the job. Cymphonique Miller is one of these young folks, and I talked to her at the recent Nickelodeon upfront in Chicago, where the How to Rock star appeared as part of the entertainment for that morning.
Channel Guide Magazine: We’re a good way through the first season of How To Rock so far. How’s that going for you?
Cymphonique Miller: It’s going really great. Right now, we are in production, and I’m just so appreciate all of the love that the fans have been showing How to Rock. I love being part of How to Rock, because it has such a positive message. Not only is it funny, but we get to do crazy stunts each week, like [diving into a wading pool full of] macaroni ’n’ cheese, chocolate getting dumped from above … and there’s also a lot of original music, so I’m constantly recording for the show. I just love being a part of it, because it’s got a lot of great elements — the positive message, music and comedy.
CGM: With the music and everything else, that has to be a tough regimen. What’s it like for you?
CM: You definitely have to have a strong work ethic, because the thing is, you have to do all of the acting at rehearsals, but you also have to do a lot of the music recording as well, and then we all, when it comes to music videos, we have dance rehearsals. First and foremost, I always have to do my schoolwork first. My schoolteacher is here [turns and points], so that’s how it always works. Before I even go to rehearsal in the mornings, I do school, and then it’ll be acting rehearsals, dancing rehearsals, vocal rehearsals — lots of rehearsals.
CGM: So what’s happening on set these days?
CM: Lots of good stuff has been happening on How to Rock. I recently had my big brother Romeo on the show, and as you might know, he did his own show on Nickelodeon [Romeo!], so it’s really cool for a brother and sister to be on the same network. It’s cool, because that was actually our first time acting together — not in an interview or on a talk show, but in an actual TV show.
CGM: I’m told you did a duet for that episode, no?
CM: Yes, we did. It’s called “Me, Myself and I.” Then we had the guys from Big Time Rush on the show as well, which was also another really cool moment, because I actually guest-starred on their show. It’s kind of mind-blowing that I’m saying, “Oh, Big Time Rush is coming on my own show,” so it’s a dream come true, and I’m just really thankful to all the fans out there that have been watching, viewing the show and giving it its success.
CGM: I’m sure you have songwriters and producers, but what is your input like on the music you do for How to Rock?
CM: I actually co-wrote the theme song, “Only You Can Be You,” so that’s really close to my heart. I’ve been singing ever since I was 2 years old, so I take my singing career really seriously. It’s just something that I’ve always loved and I’m passionate about, and I think what makes the music different on How to Rock is, it wasn’t made for the TV show. We actually have a lot of the same producers that did Rihanna and Beyoncé’s music, because we just wanted to give the people good music. We know the kids — they want to hear all those records, but I just always want to keep my audience in mind, so it’s all the same good sound, just with a good concept.
CGM: I’m sure there’s an album that’s on the way at the end of this season. How’s that coming along?
CM: We’re still working on it, but we have many songs. Some of them you might have seen in the episodes, but there’s a lot of variety. I will say, I can’t really put my sound in a box, because we have pop songs; we have rock songs; we have hip-hop songs; we have duets; we have ballads; acoustic versions — so, a lot of variety. I think there’s something in there for everyone, which is something I really like about How to Rock. I want to be able to have families who enjoy together. Not just the kid, or the parent, but both.
CGM: Obviously, your dad [Master P] has been involved in music for a long time. I’m sure he had something to say at the outset of your wanting to get into this business.
CM: In the beginning, he didn’t actually want me to be in the entertainment business, because he’s like, “I know how crazy this entertainment business is. Your job is to get good grades in school. You keep doing that, then you know you’ll be fine. You can be a doctor or a lawyer, or something else — you don’t have to be in the entertainment business like me or Romeo.” It was more like a coincidence, because it’s always been something I’ve loved. I never did it because of them. I think it kind of just worked — it was in my blood or something. But I really wanted to do this, so I was like, “Dad, no — I really want to do this. I want to pursue it.’ So he’s like, “OK, get good grades, stay on honor roll.” So I did that — I got all A’s. So he’s like, “OK, what am I going to do with you?”
I found out that there was an opportunity to do a general audition for Nickelodeon. It was in New York, but I said I didn’t want them to know who my brother was. I didn’t want them to know who my dad was. So I went to this general audition, and the script was really intricate. I had to sing, dance, act, do different voices, play different emotions. I didn’t really expect anything from it. I just wanted to go there, do a good job and do something for myself, and after a month, they came back, they were like, “We really loved the audition.” And it wasn’t until then that they found out who my dad and brother were, so at the end of the day I can feel really good about being with Nickelodeon because they love me for the real me, not because of who I was connected to or anything.
CGM: So what’s with this Halloween special coming up at the end of April?
CM: I can’t even explain to you how excited I am for you guys to see this “Half-o-ween Special” — that’s what they’re calling it. I’m actually glad I don’t have to wait until October for you guys to see it. Gravity 5, in the show, we are werewolves, and The Perfs are vampires, so naturally they’re enemies, and there’s going to be a new song featured, which I also cowrote, so I’m excited for you guys to hear that. And we have a big dance number with a lot of different Halloween creatures.
CGM: A lot of Nickelodeon kids don’t seem to end up going through the actual high-school experience they portray on their series — do you have any regrets about that?
CM: No, because I actually have a lot of my same friends that I went to school with, and that just sort of keeps me grounded. I don’t really see myself as being — aside from that, I still hang out with all of the same people. I visit my schools and see all of my teachers, and have all the same friends. But they’re like, “Famous or not, all of that kind of stuff doesn’t really matter to me.” And my dad and brother are really big on that. We still go to the mall, go to the movies, do all the same stuff. They want me to have that same, normal childhood. They’re like, “Don’t get caught up in all the fame and money, and stuff, because it comes and goes.” In our family, it’s like, God, family, education. I have a very strict father.
CGM: If you weren’t a performer — if it all ended tomorrow — what do you think you would enjoy doing?
CM: You know, I love little kids, and I think it would be really cool to be a teacher, and I find myself always tutoring my little cousins, and they’re like, “I like when you tutor me, because you listen to me, and you have the patience to sit there with me.” And I also love to give back, so no matter what, whether I’m in the entertainment industry or not, I always want to make sure that I’m giving back. That’s a feeling that I’ve never gotten for — in acting, singing or dancing, when I’m visiting hospitals with these kids and seeing that you can make someone smile, actually putting in the time — I think time is more valuable than money, because you can’t get that back. Knowing all of these kids and getting that experience — I always feel really good about myself and the fact that you can help others, so that’s something that I would do no matter what. Be involved in charity, possibly be a teacher and … secretly, an astronaut. I’m always fascinated with space.
Photo: Tribune Media Services