Saturday, December 31, 2016

Best Of 2016: EXCLUSIVE Actor Spotlight: Ava Cantrell, On The Rise Actress

Photo Credit: AliKay Photography
From the state of California comes a talented, beautiful fourteen year old actress by the name of Ava Cantrell. Ava will be seen in the upcoming movies 'Lights Out' as teen Diana and Amelia Voss in 'One Under the Sun'. Before these upcoming movies she has been seen in 'Not Safe for Work' (TV Movie) as Sunny Scout, 'Cam Girls' (TV Series), 2 episodes as Brooklyn, 'Haunted Hathaways' (TV Series), four episodes as Penelope Pritchard, 'Exit 13' as Alice and more.

Recently, our founder/editor David Mills had the opportunity to interview this fourteen year old actress. Here is what Ava had to say about acting, being normal young lady pursuing an acting career, education and more.

When did you start acting?
I started when I was 7 years old.  I was dancing competitively and loved performing so my dad thought that acting would be great for me as well.

Was it your dream to be an actress?
I don't remember dreaming of being on TV, but I loved to pretend and make up stories.  Now I dream of playing all different types of parts and characters.

Are there challenges pursuing a acting career?

Definitely.  The 1st challenge that you come across is dealing with rejection.  So much rejection!  Then you realize how hard it is to book a job, and that you have no control over the process at all.  The part is yours for those few moments while your auditioning.  You have to learn to enjoy that time, be in the moment, make a connection, be thankful you got the opportunity and move on.  If you get further, great!  If not, you just prepare for the next opportunity.  A big challenge for a kid actor is that you're going to miss parties.  Birthday parties, pool parties, sleep overs are bound to be missed because of an audition, callback or booking.  Hopefully your friends will understand and invite you to the next one but the commitment of the pursuit has to be there to succeed.

Do you remember your first acting job, tell us about it?
Absolutely!  It was a short film for an UCLA theses.  It was called PALs.  I played an android that was old and worn down.   I was going to be replaced by a newer model and my owner was a boy who loved me.  His dad didn't like that he was playing with a girl android and bought him a new boy model.  It was actually quite sad, but the process of film was so fun!  I made friends on that set that I still have today.  That is one of the great things about all my acting jobs, the friends and interesting people that come into your life. I also booked A Dell commercial within the time I was filming the short. Luckily both jobs worked with my schedule so I could do both. I met my friend and Disney Star Austin North on that job. We drove around in a vintage green RV in the desert. We were, and both still are very grateful to be working in this industry and we are still great friends.

You will play Teen Diana in the movie 'Lights Out' and 'One Under the Sun' as Amelia Voss. Tell us about your characters?
Well both movies have secrets that I have to keep until they premiere, but I can say a little about each one.  In "Lights Out" I'm going to be the one that haunts your dreams and waking hours of the night.  You might keep all your lights burning and avoid shadows for awhile after seeing it.  In "One under the sun"  I play a totally different character.   The movie takes place over a 3 year time period so you'll see me age and get very sick (my character has cancer).  I do hope that in the end you'll have a feeling of hope for future and a belief that we are all connected.   I'm very blessed that I have got to play so many different types of characters since I started acting.

Photo Credit: AliKay Photography
Are the cast members in these two movies easy to work with?
I love both cast and crews! In both, the cast and crew were protective of me. I felt very safe. In Lights out, I mainly got to do scenes with Emily Lind. We had a blast. We have so many great crazy behind the scenes selfies I cant wait to share. We would do a horror scene and then laugh and have fun to take the edge off after each take, then get right back to it when cameras were on. I have some amazing scenes that I just can't wait till everyone gets to watch.   On 'One Under The Sun' we all became family. Pooja Batra, my on screen mother and Gene Farber my on screen Dad and I all became really close. They were really protective of me and the tears we had together were real.  Everyone I worked with on 'Lights Out' and 'One under the Sun' are so brilliant. It would be amazing just to have had one experience, but both back to back changed me for good. You can't work with that much talent and not have it positively affect you as well.

What does fans have to look forward to in 'Lights Out' and 'One Under The Sun'?
The fans have so much to look forward to. 'Lights Out' is releasing on July 22, 2015. This summer date, against Star Trek 3 is due to how good this film is testing. Its by the same creators as 'Saw' and 'Conjouring' So they can look forward to a lot. This horror film has everything in it.  David Sandberg (The director) has an amazing vision of story.  You are going to be scared.  Bring someone to squeeze their hand (and maybe hide behind).  Get ready for this one to have a sequel.   'One under the Sun' should bring you to tears and closer to your humanity.  It will be a fun ride and exciting (Mars, space, astronauts, conspiracies) but the reason for this movie is to make a difference and make people think about mankind, and imagine a world with out war.  The director Vincent Tran and I immediately connected when I read for him and all of his connections brought this amazing team together that will have you crying but also inspired.

How do you get ready for scenes?
It has changed as I've grown.  I have learned so much about my craft over the past years.  I have found what works best for me is to understand what is driving my character forward.  My goal is to be completely in the moment.  The lines are there in my head (I learn them dry so it is just data) then sink into the reasons, motivations, conflicts that push me into the scene.  I love that I have a chance to become someone different to tell a story.  In the end, that is what I'm doing.  Telling a story, if I can loose myself in that story then I know the audience no longer sees me, they see only the character.

Do you have any advice for those wanting to start a career in acting?
Well, I should probably only give advice to kids on this topic.  The one thing you're going to need a lot of if you want to do this professionally is - Support.  A kid can not do it alone.  Your parents have to be as committed to this as you are.  If that is a yes for you then start acting.  Make Youtube videos, try out for plays, take classes and submit to auditions.  Don't be afraid of rejection because it is just a part of the biz.  Even Brad Pitt was told no 100 times before someone said yes.

What do you hope your fans can take away from your acting?
I would feel very proud if my fans felt connected to my characters.  I would love it if they felt each one was unique and brought out an emotional response for them.  Love, hate, fear, empathy, sympathy, any of those would make me happy.

Photo Credit: AliKay Photography
It's hard to find free time while working on projects. When you do, how do you spend it?
When I have free time, I usually just relax. I love to watch movies, read, and take photos with my Canon. If it is summer, I head down to the beach. I am an avid surfer. My best friend Aubrey Miller and I love planning getaways. We do Disney and stay at a hotel with our Moms. We get in fun for a month in those 24-48 hour time periods. You have got to seize those moments that you get. If I need to recharge, I take that time to recharge. If I need to play I do that! My parents and I take a long summer break, and book out to go to Hawaii. You have to have a life besides being in the industry to be a happy well rounded person.

Do your family and friends support you?
My family supports me and encourages me to follow my dreams.  I would not have gotten very far with their support. There is a lot of driving involved. There is headshots, classes and events. It is a full time job to be a working kid actor parent.  I'm also lucky to have friends in and out of the business who understand the challenges of pursuing this life.  In this day and age there are many people following their dreams with sports, school, dance, arts to name a few. I love my friends that are busy as well following their dreams.

Who inspires you with your acting?
Jennifer Lawrence is one of my biggest inspirations. She really can do it all. I love her range and dedication. She is a very hard worker that not only has God Given talent but works hard at her career. She is everything in my book. Also all of the actors I get to work with. Talent inspires talent. When I am in a scene and my fellow actor is giving it everything, it inspires me.

What do you hope to accomplish with your acting?
My hope is that I can turn this into a career as an adult.  I have my eyes open to all the possibilities the industry has to offer.  I'm learning so much and have the opportunities to give back as well.  I hope I can tell stories that will inspire as well as entertain.

Is it hard for you to remember your lines? How do you remember them?
At first it was difficult, but it is a learned skill and the more practice you have and more scripts thrown your way you have to sink or swim. I have really improved at it. I like to break down each scene and get it one at a time. Once a get the first scene, I move on. In the room, I don't fumble on the line. if I mess up I just go on. In 'One Under the Sun' there was alot of reading it real. Pooja Batra and I would start our scenes and then head all of these other places. Where we were feeling right in the moment. We did it the way we were supposed to but also had freedom of adding to our lines. I am grateful for that opportunity.

Are you passionate about any charities, if so, why?
2015 I worked with a lot of charities. I really loved them all. It was amazing to work with Los Angeles Mission. They have a story of hope. I got to do the tour and just love them. If they ever need me, I am there. I personally raised money for American Cancer Society. My fans are called AvasAngels and my mission o social media is to inspire my generation to give back. In the age of the selfie its time to give back. I will be going to Best Friend LA to donate 1,000 blankets on January 16th with Konabenellie, who is a company that gives back to animal shelters. I hope to see some of my angels there. I have 3 dogs(and one recent angel dog named Gucci) as well as a cat and turtle. I hope to spend more time in 2016 with more animal charities. I feel very passionate about animal rescue. There are so many great dogs and cats that get put to sleep each year. I hope more people start adopting rather then buying animals.

Is education important to you?
A little secret about me is that I am a bit of a nerd. I love Science. Love it. I am a virtual school student taking two AP classes. My GPA is 4.4 at this time. Education is very important. I hope to go to an Ivy league college if I am not a series regular on a show. I work very hard at school. What people don't know is that I can be on set all day and then also have the challenge of wanting to get an A on a Biology exam that is due that day. So I have to study hard, know lines, then study hard and try to ace a test. I have been known to cry if I get a B on a quiz. Working hard is important to me. If I can work hard and get straight A's, it shows me I can do what I need to do on set. It gives me confidence that I can succeed.

Do you have any other talents?
I have been dancing since age 2.5. Before giving up competitive dance to pursue acting, I was an award winning dancer. Now I train at a classical ballet studio. I learned all of the tricks and style, and now I am cleaning what I know. I can surf, and have been surfing since age 7. I am an amateur photographer. I can also sing and 2016 I am going out on a limb and adding that to my bag of skills and tricks. My voice is unique and I have been told I am a really good singer, but I am not ready to show that side of myself until I have trained more at it, and feel good about any finished product. I am a perfectionist in that way. I want to do things well, or not all.

We thank Ava for taking the time to answer our questions. It is our hope to see her become really successful with her acting and education.

To follow Ava on Twitter click here.
Ava spending time helping LA Mission.

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