Landing a lead role on a hit television show within just a few weeks of auditions is not the typical newcomer-to-Hollywood story. But for Addison Riecke, this is exactly how her blossoming career began. From her small country hometown in Covington, Louisiana, to Los Angeles, Riecke is headed into her fourth season as Nora in Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans – which won this year’s Kids Choice Award for Favorite TV Show. To top it all off, she just landed her first major film role in a re-make of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 classic The Beguiled, alongside Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell. No qualms about it, this talented twelve-year-old has a bright future ahead of her. When speaking with her, it’s evident that this is no ordinary kid, she is an “old” soul. She eloquently speaks with wisdom sharing that through all of the excitement, she continues to stand firm and steadfast in her faith. Riecke sat down with Risen to talk about passions, priorities, and using her platform for others.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: What was it that made you fall in love with acting, singing and playing musical instruments? When did you think you were actually good at it and maybe you could be on TV?
Addison Riecke: What really made me fall in love with acting was that I could be whoever I wanted to be. Even from a young age I would have friends over and we would write and put on plays. I liked that no matter what you were doing, you could still be yourself, being able to be anyone else you wanted to play. I started out just doing small plays at my school. I really fell in love with it when I was about seven or eight years old. I started at an acting school in New Orleans, which is where I am from. From there I went to Los Angeles and met my manager and agent and then I started to go on auditions. Because I started acting professionally when I was so young it was always just a lot of fun for me. I knew it was a job, but I didn’t really worry about it as a job. I realized that I could probably make a career out of this when I was about nine or ten years old. It is still kind of surreal to me. It’s a job and that is crazy to me because it is so much fun. The most exciting part about it is that no matter what movie, television show or commercial you work on, you are always meeting new people that you form relationships with. I’ve been on The Thundermans for five years. I’ve made so many relationships with the cast, guest stars, and the crew. It’s just been an incredible experience.
RM: Speaking of The Thundermans, you are now in your fourth season, but take us back to your audition. What was it like getting the news you were cast as Nora and what have you enjoyed most about being part of this series?
AR: When I first auditioned for The Thundermans I had only been on a few auditions. I had just come out to Los Angeles for a few weeks in the summer and had been on just a few commercials. Right before the audition for The Thundermans came up, there was a very small role that I had wanted. I was so so excited about it. And the day I was going in for the directors meeting they had changed the role to a boy. I was so heartbroken. And then the next day I got The Thundermans audition. I know that God has a plan and four seasons later I am still on that show. When I had first auditioned for the show I didn’t think I was going to get it booked. Obviously I was positive, but I didn’t think that just being in Los Angeles for a few weeks that I would book something, because that is almost unheard of, it’s crazy. It was a true blessing that I got booked on that show. And it was a long process. It was more than a month. There were auditions and call backs. I met with other kids that were auditioning. Right when I had left they had called me and said that I had booked the role and I was amazed, I couldn’t speak. It was really incredible.
The super powers are cool and look really neat on the screen, but the family part is where people can connect.
RM: It seems like everyone is obsessed with superheroes, why do you think so many fans identify with this family full of special powers?
AR: It is definitely hard to connect with a family that has superpowers because they are so different than us. But what I think the fans connect to is the family part of it, because we are one big family and sometimes we get into fights. But at the end of the day we still love each other and are a family, superheroes or not. I think that is the best part of the show. The super powers are cool and look really neat on the screen, but the family part is where people can connect.
RM: You mentioned that you felt the Lord has a purpose and plan for your life. What does that look like for you?
AR: Really, it’s having a God-centered life and being raised in a family that has a true love for the Lord. It’s not just that I have a family like that, but it is because I have a true connection to God. Everything He has done for me is so so so incredible. I just love Him. And through anything He is always there for me. Through auditions, I always know that He has a plan. Even if I am having a really, really bad day and I don’t think that things can get better, it always does because God is right there with me through it all. I am never alone. I think it is good to surround yourself with other people who believe the same thing because surrounding yourself with other people who love God can also bring you closer to Him.
RM: The kids on The Thundermans want to keep their abilities under wraps and be normal so to speak, kids can be mean to other kids that don’t “fit-in.” What encouragement can you give to help kids be confident in who they are?
AR: You have been created especially for who you are and you should be proud of who you are. Everyone is unique. There is always going to be someone who thinks that they are better than you or tries to knock you down. You are beautiful, wonderful, and you are the way God created you to be. So just never forget that.
RM: You’ve done a lot of work with anti-bullying campaigns, how do you handle any negativity and in turn, how do you stay true to who you are? AR: It’s hard in California because there are so many people and social media is crazy right now. You can get 1,000 comments on a post with several being positive and then a handful that are negative mean comments. The negative comments may catch your eye, but in the grand scheme of things there are 900 positive comments. Anyone can hide behind a screen and tear someone else down. But you just have to remember who you are and focus on all of the positivity that is going on around you. I think that there is definitely a way to stop bullying if people come together to help one another out, especially through social media.
RM: I’m sure faith is a big part of that authenticity too. What or who helped you understand that you wanted to be a Christian, and what does your faith mean to you?
AR: My parents have been a huge inspiration for me. We watch sermons on television when we can’t make it to church, especially when I am going to work every day and traveling on the weekends. It’s important because without God we are nothing. One of my favorite Bible verses is Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” It is so comforting to know that in my weakness He’s there to provide me with the strength that I need. I think it is so important to have God at the center of your life, because He will take you places that you couldn’t even imagine. I’ve seen some people who have lost sight of that and it is very sad because without God, they really just went off of the train tracks. It’s difficult being in California because everyone is different. There are a lot of people who are negative about God. But whether I am back home in Louisiana, or here in Hollywood, I think it is important to really just keep your eyes on Him because there are so many distractions and temptations in the world. You have to keep yourself uplifting others and keep focused on seeking God instead of things and temptations, because focusing on God is what is best for me.
RM: What does faith look like in your life every day?
AR: Every morning I try to watch a sermon. And I start my day, and finish my day, praying. I think that it is important to keep focused on things that are important to you like God, keeping yourself surrounded with godly uplifting people. Even if you are having an awful day He can do anything for you. You just have to trust and believe in Him, because with that trust and that faith it can carry you so far.
RM: Giving back is really important to you. Why do you care about others and your community and how do you choose which charities you want to support?
AR: There are a few charities that I am extremely passionate about. In Louisiana I have worked with the Covington Food Bank, and Salt, which helps individuals with disabilities. In Los Angeles I am involved with Children’s Hospital and Write Brain Gives, which helps children and provides them with books. And I am actually the celebrity youth ambassador for an organization called Kitty Bungalow. They are dedicated to saving cats in the Los Angeles area because in such a big city, it is so hard for a little cat to get by. It is very important that we help people and small animals within our community. It’s hard for kids to be in a hospital especially if they have a really serious disease like cancer. It is good that Children’s Hospital has such a welcoming atmosphere for kids not to be scared. They really help a lot of kids. So I thought that it was really important for me to go and help them out. Around Valentine’s Day I brought presents to all of the kids. It’s hard to bring in things because you’re limited in what you can bring in. But I think that it’s important that they get to have exciting things to look forward to, especially when they are in the hospital for extended periods of time.
RM: You love to read and teamed up with an organization to inspire creativity in kids. I understand you even wrote your own book. What was it about and do you see yourself continuing to write?
AR: I started my first book through WRiTE BRAiN BOOKS for Write Brain Gives. It was auctioned off to raise money for their organization. Basically what WRiTE BRAiN does is they have wordless books that are just illustrations for kids to fill out. One kid can look at a picture and think something completely different than another kid. I did the best I could with writing. It was a very good book and I had a lot of fun writing it. I would absolutely love to continue writing in the future. I’ve actually been writing a chapter book for the past two years or so. I think the reason I love to write so much is because I love to read. It’s like you’re in a completely different world with each book. It’s like a movie going on in your mind. Everyone can read the same book, but each person will have a different thought and view about the same book, and I think that is one of the most beautiful things about writing. I would love to write a sci-fi book. I’m working on a futuristic book, kind of almost apocalyptic. It’s very exciting! I have been really busy lately so I haven’t had time to work on it. I love sci-fi!
RM: Congratulations on signing on to your first major feature film too! Big names will be surrounding you as Sofia Coppola will direct the remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood classic The Beguiled. What can you tell us about your role in the film that also includes Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Angourie Rice and Elle Fanning?
AR: It’s a very exciting movie. It was based in the Civil War era. It’s about a seminary of girls who take in a wounded union soldier and they try to nurse him back to health. There are some things that stand in the way like getting caught and there is romance. It’s just really, really amazing. And it’s absolutely incredible how Sofia Coppola remade this movie. It’s going to be really amazing! The costumes are amazing. The actors are amazing. And I am just really excited. And I’ll be playing the role of one of the girls in the seminary. There are a lot of cool actors in this film and I will be working pretty close with them which is really exciting because they have done some really incredible work that I am fond of. So I’m very excited to be working alongside them.
RM: How cool that the movie will even film in Louisiana. With it being your home state, will you get to spend more time with the family or is it shooting in a different city?
AR: It’s shooting in two different places actually. It’s shooting way down south in Napoleonville, and it’s also shooting in the middle of New Orleans. So I will be able to go home and see my family, my dad, my dogs and my cats and I will be able to sleep in my own bed. It’s a huge blessing to be able to have a role where I am so close to home. And on my days off I can go to school. I’m super excited!
RM: Speaking of home, having so much success at such a young age how do you juggle work and school and still trying to do typical kid-things too?
AR: In the beginning it was kind of difficult with the traveling back and forth because every three weeks I try to go back home to Louisiana when we our on “hiatus week” – which is our week off. It was a little difficult when I would go home in the beginning, but I have gotten used to it now. It truly is the best of both worlds. It was hard with my friends to acclimate to it at first. But my school is a very small private school in Covington, Louisiana. And I’ve been with the same kids since kindergarten, so I was still the same Addison no matter what I was doing. I think it was really cool to still be able to be a normal kid, but at the same time be on the Nickelodeon show.
I think it is so important to have God at the center of your life, because He will take you places that you couldn’t even imagine.
RM: We’ve talked about television, movies, books, and charities. Where do you hope your career takes you?
AR: I’m really hoping to go to an Ivy League school in the future for college. And after that I really want to write a play for Broadway. That would be really incredible. And after that probably just write more. I see my career taking me to acting. I want to have more time in front of the screen, but I think that after I go to college I want to spend more time behind the screen doing writing and producing. I want to do a lot of stuff. For a moment last year, I wanted to be in the FBI. But I want to do a lot of things. I think it would be a lot of fun to have a fashion line. I would be really interested in doing a make-up line. I really love make-up because it’s another way to show your creativity. Fashion and a sense of clothes is also a way to show creativity, so I would love to have a fashion line. That would really fun.
RM: I imagine you surround yourself with solid people to help you make future decisions – who do you trust and why do you turn to them for advice?
AR: A lot of my really close friends and family I turn to for advice. I’ve made a lot of friends out here that I can turn to as well. Most of my friends out here in California, there is an age difference whether they are older or younger than me. I tend to turn to more of my older friends, but really I can lean on my mom the most being out here together. My dad comes out and visits every three weeks or so. But my mom is just really incredible. I can lean on her and she can help me with anything. We just have a really wonderful relationship.
RM: Lastly, will you leave us with one way you have seen the power of prayer at work in your life whether it be personal, career or even with the charities you lend your name to?
AR: God has really blessed me so much. And I believe it is a priority to give back to Him because he has given me an incredible gift in this life. I think that it’s important that what I do with it is my gift back to him. God is the most important thing in my life. I think it’s important that I keep Him first place, because He can really take me anywhere. Another one of my favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We’re vessels through which God can shine His light through us to show others His goodness. I think it is really important to show His goodness to others. He’s given me this gift to act and help other people in this world. I am definitely trying to do my best to do that. I want to say to everyone to keep your faith first place and God will take you to places you’ve never dreamed of. It’s hard sometimes if you have friends that are doing things that you don’t want to do. Or are saying things about you that you don’t want them to say about you, then they are not really your friends. God puts people in your life for a reason, whether it’s to help you move on or to give you strength to bring you up. I think it’s important to ask God, if you have any problems in your life, to pray about it and He will show you the right way.