Cassie Scerbo Dishes on Her Involvement with Boo2Bullying & Battling Stereotyping
You might have seen Cassie Scerbo most recently on ABC’s Grand Hotel as Vanessa, but this wasn’t her first television appearance. In fact, the 29-year-old actress has been on television ever since she was an extra in a Burger King commercial at the age of 10. “It was probably one of the most exciting things I’ve booked, just because it was the first thing,” Cassie laughs. “It’s funny to see how far I’ve come, and what excited me in the beginning. I think it’s important to remember those moments, because they help you remember why you started.”
Her passion for acting developed even before the age of 10; Cassie always loved performing and telling stories. For her, acting seemed like the logical choice. “I’ve always been outspoken—in a positive way—and always had a big personality,” she says. Cassie would gather her family and put on little shows for them. “At 4 years old, I was put into dance class, and from there it went to acting, and modeling, and singing. I just loved every form of performing and telling a story.”
As most successful actors will tell you, it’s not easy making it in Hollywood. It takes a fighting spirit, and Cassie was not going to give up until she made her dreams come true. “I kind of just went for it. I feel like the older we get, we start to lose those innate feelings. People overthink too much, and I’m trying to learn at my older age, to be more like my younger self and to stop thinking and go for everything based on instinct,” says Cassie.
Her family was a big help with her accomplishing her dreams. “My parents believed in me. My incredible mom would drive me to Miami, back and forth all the time for auditions.” Then Cassie got a manager, and started to get callbacks for bigger projects in Los Angeles. “My mom put me on a plane with her, she took me out here, and my dad would visit. They were able to financially support me until I made my own money,” says Cassie, who now lives in Los Angeles. As the youngest of three, Cassie still relies on her Italian family to keep her spirits lifted. “They know how homesick I get, so they try to come visit me as much as they can. This can be a little bit of a crazy town,” she says. Having a strong foundation and the support of her family has allowed her to navigate the ups and downs that come with living in Los Angeles.
Over the last twenty years, Cassie has been busy working on several acting projects, especially with Freeform. Her first major role was on Bring It On: In It to Win It. Then, she worked on the movie Teen Spirit, playing Amber Pollock, a character who has remained close to her heart, especially now that she is involved with Boo2Bullying. Cassie made the network her home when she landed the role of gymnast Lauren Tanner in Make It or Break It. A couple of years later, Cassie returned to Freeform as Heather in Baby Daddy.
Cassie’s journey has taken her places she never dreamed of. After Make It or Break It, Cassie landed the role of Nova Clarke on SyFy’s Sharknado. Cassie traveled to eight countries in one year for the film. When she first auditioned to play Nova, she thought it was simply going to be a chance for her to dive into a new character, someone very different than the gymnast she had been playing for years. She never thought Sharknado would become a part of pop culture. “No one is going to see it, this will just be fun to do on hiatus,” she recalls her thoughts back then. “I did not think this was going to become a hit. Hell no.”
In the beginning, Cassie felt ashamed to be part of the franchise —she thought she wouldn’t be taken seriously after this role. But a year ago, she vowed never to talk about it in that way, since it was an opportunity many wish they had. “No one is ever going to put me in a box. I will never be stereotyped.” However, there were some people who didn’t think the same way. “In the industry, there have been reps of mine and people that have tried to tell me it’s hard to get you in certain roles because you did Sharknado,” she explains. “Then, I went on with booking Grand Hotel, a network show, so that’s so untrue. You are the one who controls your destiny.” Booking the role of Vanessa was a huge success for Cassie —especially because so many people doubted her.
Cassie pours her heart and soul into every audition. “I’m going to study the hell out of the character I’m going to audition for. I’m going to research what that character has gone through,” she says. “I write to learn my lines, that visual helps me get it in my brain until I’m not thinking of the words anymore.” She likes to form a backstory and writes diary entries for each character she auditions for. Rejection is the hardest part of each audition, but that doesn’t stop her from going to the next one. “You have to have tough skin.” Cassie has learned that patience is key in Hollywood. “I get so excited when my phone rings, when an agent calls, because I think the hardest part is waiting—waiting sucks!”
Her favorite roles are those that feel the most foreign to her. “I love psychology and acting is very much psychology —it’s understanding people and different walks of life. When I book a role that feels very displaced from who I am, that really excites me because it allows me to be an actress.” Thanks to acting, Cassie has been able to walk in other people’s shoes and understand their motives. “You just learn so many things about so many different people.”
And it’s that closeness to her characters that made her want to join Boo2Bullying. While playing a bully in Make It or Break It, Cassie decided to join the cause. “My character was so broken and really just needed to be loved.” Cassie has always had a desire to give back, even at a young age. “I wanted to have some sort of platform to help people and send positive messages,” she explains. Boo2Bullying was the perfect platform for Cassie to help others. As their Vice President, Cassie is on a mission to spread kindness, empathy, and compassion. “It’s been an amazing escape—not to sound selfish because I love what I do. I love that in turn I get to step outside of the entertainment industry and speak at these schools and advocate for kindness. One of the main things we talk about is, You’re not alone —in the sense that everybody has dealt with some sort of bullying or knows somebody who has felt some sort of bullying or has felt isolated. Whatever it is, everybody has some kind of issue.” She is trying to break the silence of those who feel alone, teach acceptance, and show that everyone is dealing with their own problems.
Cassie keeps herself busy. In between auditions and working with Boo2Bullying, she co-hosts a podcast with her two best friends, “Two and a Half Girls,” a fun comedy talk show, where Cassie and her friends, Brett Collins and Laura Samuels, have fun and chat with celebrity guests. Listen and get caught up on season one’s adventures and get ready for season two, where your favorite celebrities will continue doing dares in the name of charities.