If your kids watch “Jessie” on the Disney Channel you have probably heard them singing around the house, in the car, at the dinner table, that catchy theme song, “Hey Jessie!” Well, I am lucky enough to call Christina Moore, who plays “Christina Ross” on the hit Disney Channel show, my sister-in-law. Christina plays the mother to the Ross family kids: Ravi, Luke, Emma, and Zuri. She and her husband on the show are similar to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, since they have adopted children of different ethnicities and she is supermodel, business mogul and fashion designer married to a movie director (Morgan Ross). She’s wise, loving and strict and even once fired a nanny for wearing plaid, however, she trusts Jessie as the children’s nanny. Christina and I had a chance to talk about the show, the cast, and Disney in general.
Here is what she had to say:
Tell me about the audition process to get this role?
I went in and read for the role with producers and the network executives. Then they had me come to the set and meet the kids. We all got along really well and then I was offered the job. It didn’t hurt that my husband, John Ducey, had already been a regular on the Disney Channel as the dad of the Jonas brothers on JONAS. I knew the executives all very well.
When auditioning for the part was there a former role or preparation that you thought helped you get chosen for this character?
My job as Tracey Clark on 90210 prepared me to play a very rich, very successful mother. My life as a step-mom has also wildly helped me understand the life of a being a mom—how it feels to love a kid.
Besides Debby Ryan was this a break out role for the other child actors in the cast?
I think all of the kids really broke out. Peyton List, Cameron Boyd and Karan Brar had prior film experience but “Jessie” really put them on the map in a big way. “Jessie” is shown all over the world. These kids became huge stars with this show.
How long did it take to shoot an episode of Jessie, and where did you film?
It takes 5 days to shoot an episode of “Jessie.” We rehearse Mon- Wed, shoot parts of the show Thursday and then Friday we shoot the whole show in front of a life studio audience. Our stages are in Hollywood, CA.
Do you have any tricks for memorizing lines?
REPETITION—I don’t have any other tricks—just the more time you spend on each line—they easier it is to remember.
What was it like to shoot with Mrs. Kipling (a seven-foot water monitor lizard)?
There were occasions that we used a real lizard and I thought that was scary. We had to let “Frank” have a lot of space so we faked our spacing. All other times we used a stuffed lizard tail and pretended it was the real Mr./ Mrs. Kipling.
My kid’s favorite episode you are in is “Trashin’ Fashion” (Christina promotes her new retro-80s clothing line, Fer Shur Couture, at the same time Emma’s new anonymous fashion blog, Kitty Couture, is trending. When Emma looks at Christina’s over-the-top designs, she does not want to give her mother an honest review in order to spare her feelings) What was your favorite episode to shoot and why?
My favorite episode is “Gotcha Day” – I love the idea of celebrating a child’s adoption day. It is sweet and it is inventive. I have quite a few friends who have adopted children and have “adopted” the idea of celebrating a “Gotcha Day.” Yay! #trending
Since your character and your husband on the show play parodies of the famous Jolie-Pitt family…do you think the Jolie-Pitt kids have seen the show?
Hmmmm—Let’s hope so!
Was the character already named Christina or did they like that name once they picked you for the role?
My character’s original name was Pandora but the Disney executives were concerned about the “Pandora’s Box” associations so we were all scrambling to find a different name. At the last minute – the writers decided to name the character after me: thus Christina Ross was born.
The set on Jessie seems pretty elaborate from the Penthouse to the kid’s rooms with trampoline beds and slides…is that something you would say Disney does well- who was behind those creations?
There was a whole team of people that designed and decorated the sets. Disney has the most creative group of professionals working for them. A few names:
Series Production Design by
Michael Hynes … (52 episodes, 2011-2013)
Jim Jones … (46 episodes, 2013-2015)
Series Set Decoration by
Laura Richarz … (88 episodes, 2012-2015)
Maralee Zediker … (10 episodes, 2011-2012)
Does Karan Brar who plays Ravi on the show really have an Indian accent?
Karan is originally from Canada—so NOPE he doesn’t have a real Indian accent. He is great at creating that accent for sure.
What character would you say is actually the funniest in real life? Anyone have any special talents?
All of the kids are very funny in real life. Cameron Boyce is a tremendously good dancer and often times entertained us with his “moves.” Kevin Chamberlain plays piano and sings- he is currently on Broadway. So the set was just a hotbed of creativity all the time.
I asked some kids what they would like to know about Christina Ross and they wanted to know “Why is she away from her children so much?”
Christina is a working mom. I think she wishes she could be with her kids all the time but she is balancing many jobs and home life.
How did the kids on the show go to school in real life?
The kids go to school on set part of everyday. There is a studio teacher that is there to guide and manage their learning. They are able to stay on track with their grades while acting. I personally was glad to have been done with my education. They were asked to juggle a lot.
It’s not easy to have a show that runs for 4 seasons, what do you think was the secret to the success of the show?
The show was clever, funny but most of all had great heart. Viewers kept coming back for the hugs and the laughs. The kids, Jessie and Bertram were the big draw. It was a little bit like capturing magic in a bottle.
Do you get any Disney perks from working with the network and what’s your favorite ride at Disneyland or Disney World?
Each cast member gets one free trip to Disneyland per year. I was very thankful to them for that. My husband and I took our daughter and her friends. I love Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad and CARS at California Adventure.
What spot do you like to eat at when visiting Disneyland or Disney World?
I love the food at Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Teppan Edo at Japan in Epcot, we always have a good time there.
How often does the theme song of Jessie get stuck in your head?
ALL THE TIME—HEY JESSIE!!!
Do you think Christina Ross will appear in the spin off of Jessie, “Bunk’d”?
If you look closely there are pictures of Morgan and Christina Ross in the kids’ rooms on Bunk’d. I am not sure but there is always possibility of me showing up.
What do you enjoy most about being an actor?
I love the fact that every day is a different experience. I like the diversity. I get to go to new place and meet new people and play different characters.
Do you have any projects you are currently working on?
I have been super busy the last year. I have a movie coming out where I play the “bad guy” coming out mid July: The DOGLOVER released by SONY pictures. I co-wrote and co-produced a movie called RUNNING WILD starring Sharon Stone and Tommy Flanagan. I also play Sharon’s sister in the film. It is scheduled for completion and release later this year as well. I also am on a new digital series called MR. STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT that should be released in July.
You can catch “Jessie” on the Disney Channel Fridays at 8pm and you can catch me at email@example.com to book your next Disney vacation!@chipandco on Twitter @chipandcompany and on Facebook or Watch our latest Youtube Videos here.