"I was the kid on the ground doing pushups with my tongue," says 13-year-old Jade Gilley of her role for a Kellogg's Mini Swirls commercial. Gilley, who attends seventh grade in Vista, has been dancing since age two. As a preteen, she appeared as an extra in music videos for Gwen Stefani ("Holla Back Girl") and Missy Elliott ("Pass That Dutch"). Gilley says her career started to roll when her local dance teacher set her up with an L.A. agent three years ago.
Recently, Gilley was chosen to be a member of a two-boy, two-girl singing and dancing group called the Truth Squad. Put together by a Los Angeles--based production company that retains creative control, Truth Squad is best described as a young version of the Black Eyed Peas.
"I'm kinda the cutesy girl with the skirt and little jacket," says Gilley. "I'm the mixed [race] girl. The other girl is Japanese. One of the boys is African-American, and the other boy is Korean and Native American."
Gilley says she and other group members are paid each time they rehearse or audition for a record company or when they pitch ideas for TV series.
Truth Squad recorded 12 songs for an album that has been shopped to major labels. One of the songs, "Graduation," was added to the playlist of Radio Disney, the network that provides kids' music -- Top 40 style -- to 50 stations nationwide. Though CD sales are down overall, sales of music to kids under 12 continue to grow, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
Gilley's father says that, by law, 15 percent of his daughter's income must be put into a fund that only she can get after she is 18; in Gilley's case, most of her pay goes into a trust fund.