UPDATED WITH OUR WINNER! Congratulations Kaylee!! I will be emailing you shortly!

American Girl’s latest movie, An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars came out on DVD/Bluray earlier this month and was shown on network TV last weekend.  We really enjoyed the movie and have been lucky enough to get to know some of the stars of the movie, too. In case you missed it, I interviewed Ysa Panerejo (who played Toulane) a few weeks ago and yesterday I had the opportunity to chat on the phone with Jade Pettyjohn, who played McKenna. Keep reading for the full interview and at the end there will be details for how you can enter to win an autographed copy of the movie signed by Jade and her onscreen Mom, Nia Vardalos.

Before the interview I posted on the Doll Diaries Facebook page asking our fans what they want to know about Jade, and here is what we found out.

Jade Pettyjohn First the basics – Jade Pettyjohn is an 11 year old actress who is going into 7th grade. She says she was very shy as a little girl but knew she wanted to act. Her Mom had a friend in the modeling business and they thought that would be a great place for Jade to start getting used to the camera. Jade really wanted to act, though! She began acting in commercials and TV around the age of 7 and now that she is getting older, she enjoys the modeling in addition to her acting again.

Sue & Erin: Do you have any American Girl dolls?

Jade: Yes, I have three. I have a MyAG doll that my aunt gave me years ago but she doesn’t really look like me. Then when we finished filming the movie, American Girl gave each of us a Julie doll and when McKenna came out, we got her as well.

Laura, Ashley, Caroline, Diana & Rose: Are you a gymnast in real life and when did you start?

Jade: I have taken some basic gymnastics lessons – and can do things like cartwheels, but my background is more dance related. When I auditioned it said they were looking for dancers, so I figured it was a dance part. We did about three weeks of training in gymnastics and working with our stunt doubles before filming started.

Natalie: Do you do any other sports?

Jade: I like to play basketball, but I don’t play on a team and I dance.

Anngel: How long has your stunt double been doing gymnastics?

Jade: My stunt double was amazing! She has been doing gymnastics her whole life. She is a competitive gymnast in Canada (that’s where we did the filming) and so were most of the other stunt doubles and extra gymnasts in the movie.

Linda & Cindy: What was the biggest challenge you faced while filming the movie?

Jade: Gymnastics is a whole new world for me, really. The hardest part was learning how to walk like a gymnast, act like a gymnast and learn the routines. Once I got the hang of it though it was fun. The wheelchair scene was also a lot of hard work, but was a fun challenge.

Kelly: Speaking of wheelchairs, do you have any personal friends who use a wheelchair.

Jade: Yes. And while Ysa and I were getting gymnastics training before they started filming, Kerris (who plays Josie) was getting wheelchair training.

Melina: What was it like wearing a cast and using crutches during the filming of the movie?

Jade: I actually thought it was fun using the crutches and the cast was like a space boot – I could still walk in it. The only thing was that it would get really hot on that one foot since we were filming in the summer.

Pressley: What was your favorite scene in the movie?

Jade: The Regional Gymnastics Competition. It felt like a real gymnastics meet – there was so much energy in the air. All the gymnasts were so excited to be in the movie and it was so much fun to film.

Nicole: Did you make any new close friends from doing the movie?

Jade: Definitely! Yes! I went out to dinner a few nights ago with Ysa and Kerris – so we are still very close. And I still keep in touch with a lot of the girls who played our stunt doubles and some of the gymnasts via Facebook and Skype.

Kiera & Alyssa: Do you think you would like to be in another American Girl movie?

Jade: Well, of course, if they asked me to! But I think you can only be in one.

Char: Will we be seeing you in any upcoming TV or movie roles?

Jade: Yes, I have some things in the works, but I can’t really talk about them yet.

Alexandra: What advice do you have for aspiring actresses?

Jade: Understand your script and know what all the words really mean so you can deliver your lines with the right tone and emotion.

Char: A few weeks ago you attended the US Olympic Trials for Gymnastics, did a special pre-screening of the movie and signed autographs. How did you like that and who is your favorite gymnast?

Jade: It was a lot of fun!! I got to watch both nights of the women’s competition and I would say my favorites are Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber.

I would like to thank Jade again for taking the time to talk with me and answer your questions!!

An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars And now for the giveaway!

We are giving away one copy of An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars that has been signed by Jade and her onscreen Mom, Nia Vardalos.

How To Enter

  • Leave a comment below letting us know what your favorite scene in the movie was OR if you haven’t seen it yet, why would you like to see it.
  • Get bonus entries by letting your friends know about our giveaway. Get one extra entry for each of the following, but come back and leave a second comment telling us where you shared it:
    • Post about it on your own blog, in a forum, tweet about it or share it with your friends on Facebook  (saying you emailed a friend or told a friend doesn’t count).
    • Follow us on Twitter (we are @DollDiaries and Jade Pettyjohn) – please send us a tweet letting us know you are following us and introduce yourself, too.
    • Like us on Facebook (we are DollDiaries and Jade Pettyjohn) – again, feel free to leave us a note on Facebook saying hello and that you are entering the giveaway.
    • Subscribe to our YouTube channels (DollDiaries)


  • Leave your comment(s) no later than midnight July 28, 2012.
  • Make sure your email address is right. We only use it to contact the winner and we will NEVER share it or publish it.
  • You must be 13 or older to enter. If you are under 13, just ask your parent, grandparent, favorite aunt or uncle to enter for you!
  • We will be using the “And the winner is” plugin to select one (1) winner at random.

Remember, An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars is available now on DVD/Bluray at Walmart and AmericanGirl.com and as a digital download through Amazon.

Top image credit: Jessica Pettyjohn