Jordan Van Vranken has done a lot in her 15 years. She’s been seen in the hit show Criminal Minds, on Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush and appeared alongside Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher. She was even doing on-air weather reports at the age of six! But one of her most important roles isn’t on the screen – it’s as an advocate for the Ronald McDonald House. The young actress has been hosting an event – Bowl-A-Thon – benefiting the charity for the past three years.
Talking exclusively with Celebrity Teen Scoop, Jordan shared some highlights from this year’s event that took place in L.A. and how her father’s influence planted the seed for her passion for philanthropy. She also has some advice for fellow celebs and young people who are thinking about giving back – just do it!
Celebrity Teen Scoop: Tell us about the Bowl-A-Thon, the charity event you’ve hosted for the past three years.
Jordan: My Bowl-A-Thon is a fundraising event for the Ronald McDonald House that I started 3 years ago. I’ve been involved in an annual Radiothon event for the House in Memphis for years and was looking for a way to generate awareness and fundraising with my friends in the Los Angeles area. The general idea is that everyone pays a certain amount for bowling, shoes, food, etc. and I donate all the proceeds to the House. The event itself lasts a couple of hours, and lots of people show up. It’s a great way to meet new people and have fun, and it’s all for an amazing cause.
CTS: Are you closely involved with the planning of the Bowl-A-Thon? What goes into putting on a successful event?
Jordan: I do all the planning. With a little help from my parents, of course. It’s a lot of hard work but I’m happy doing it because at the end of the day, all the sweat and tears turn into something amazing. I do everything I can to make sure the event is a success.
CTS: How did you come to be involved with the charity it benefits, the Ronald McDonald House?
Jordan: The Ronald McDonald House is a charity I’ve been involved with my entire life. I was born in Memphis, where St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is located. My dad was on the Board there…for St. Jude and The Ronald McDonald House, and also helped build the Target House. He started a fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House with a radio station called ROCK 103 and at a very young age I was introduced to it, as well as other volunteer and fundraising activities.
In 1st grade it became more personal when my best friend was diagnosed with leukemia and she spent some time at the House. I went to my first “Radiothon” when I was in 2nd grade, and fell in love. I instantly connected with the kids and the House, and made a personal connection with one of the disc jockeys at the radio station, John “Bad Dog” McCormack, who became a coach and mentor to me. John ultimately lost his own battle with leukemia, but ignited a passion in me to continue to “carry the torch” and share the passion for the Ronald McDonald House with others.
It’s hard to describe the House to someone who’s never been there before, but the only word that comes to mind is magical. The kids that stay there have to deal with the most intense and horrible things, and yet everyone there is just so happy. It’s an amazing place.
CTS: Have you always been interested in philanthropy?
Jordan: I’ve always loved helping others and giving back. It’s something I think everyone should get involved with. Especially if you’re a celebrity or are in a position to do more than the average person…why not use that influence for good?
CTS: How can young people get started in helping causes they’re interested in?
Jordan: It depends on what you’re interested in, but almost any cause you want to join can use volunteers. Just call them up and ask about it! I guarantee it’s worth it.
CTS: How long have you been acting, and how did you get your start?
Jordan: I started acting when I was around 6, doing small commercials and radio work. I did a lot of community theater. Eventually when we moved to Los Angeles, things really took off. I’ve been fortunate to work in film and television.
CTS: We hear you were doing weather reports at the age of six! Tell us about this!
Jordan: I was! I did weather reports and sports spots and stuff like that. I did live on-air reports during several hurricanes in Florida and also reported during the Hollywood fire in 2007. When I was little, I had a really unique raspy voice so I did a lot of voice over work. I still do.
CTS: Do you remember your very first audition? If so, share that story with us.
Jordan: I don’t remember what my first audition was, that was so long ago. I remember that I used to get really nervous. Now it’s like old hat.
CTS: What do you like to do in your free time?
Jordan: When I’m not acting, I probably have homework. But when I don’t have homework to do, I love writing and watching basketball. I also try to watch as many movies as possible, because that’s how I get better.
CTS: What exciting projects do you have coming up for 2013?
Jordan: I recently booked the lead in an animated film so am looking forward to spending time in the booth doing voice over and ADR (automated dialogue replacement). I’ve already been out on a lot of auditions and things are starting to pick up. I can tell 2013 is going to be super busy! I have a film and a web series I’ve been working on… I’m very optimistic about this year.