There’s a special kind of strength and determination that accompanies an actor who is able to avoid the dangerous territory of “Typecasting” in Hollywood. Ava Cantrell is every bit as sweet and nice as she looks yet she is able to push past others’ perception of her to showcase her talent in as many different roles as possible.
For Ava, connection is key. She builds the important connections in her life through understanding, whether it is for her acting or her relationship with her fans, “Ava’s Angels” as they are affectionately referred to.
In preparing for a role, Ava admits that she does Google and research a bit but feels that, as an actress, she needs to be in the moment.
“Over preparing for me isn’t going to be the most authentic,” she says about her acting. “I decide who the person is in my head and trust my instinct. I work a lot with my manager and coach Sharon Lane on things that are important, like vocal range, being an authentic actor, scene development, and things like that. If you are a honed actress, then when you get on set you are prepared and confident in your choices.”
After creating a connection with whichever character she is playing at that time, Ava’s focus then moves to the bond with the other actors and the importance to work together.
“Chemistry is important with actors,” says Ava of the connection she makes with them, though she reveals that actors may not have that until the table read or when they get on set. “At that point you can adjust to where you are working as a team rather than having any set perception.”
In One Under the Sun, the Sci-Fi drama follows the sole survivor of a space mission gone horribly as she returns to Earth, desperate to return to her family but unable due to the government learning of a gift she acquired that is out of this world.
Working together and building chemistry with the other actors was central to this film as Ava plays Amelia Voss, daughter of the sole survivor, Kathryn Voss [Bollywood star Pooja Batra, Visarat].
Describing the film as a special movie “with an even more impactful anti-war message”, Ava reveals that even Stan Lee recommended it!
“My mother in the movie goes to space and in the process, sees the world in a way we all should,” she says of the plot. “It is a movie that makes you think about the bigger picture. It makes you question why the world is at war with each other. It is a truly beautiful message.”
The film takes a unique twist on the typical space/astronaut movie yet is able to keep a special human, realistic vibe to it. Part of that is due to the heart-wrenching desperation of a mother to reunite with her terminally ill daughter.
“I love playing Amelia Voss,” Ava enthuses. “As an actress, getting to play the role of someone going through all stages of terminal cancer is not only challenging, but for me, [it] really helped me understand the mindset of what all of that would feel like. My character starts in the movie a happy-go-lucky girl and then goes through all of the feelings of having cancer as well as an absent mother [Batra].”
The teen actress says that her character understands her mother is doing something very amazing for the world, but she misses her beyond belief.
“My favorite scenes are the ones [where] Amelia is extremely angry and she and her dad [Gene Farber, Captain America: Civil War] are trying to deal with being on their own as well as being in the dark of what is going on in space.” Ava reveals that another one of her favorite scenes, her last in the movie, had been the most emotional work that she had ever done. “I sat in the makeup chair for seven hours, transforming to Amelia at the end of her life,” says Ava. “The cast couldn’t look at me without tearing up. Pooja and I couldn’t look at each other without crying. I think that scene is some of the best work I have done as an actress.”
The film is one that Ava takes great pride in. Not only does she recognize and appreciate the powerful message it holds, but she’s also excited for her fans to see her in a whole new light in One Under the Sun.
Ava says, “I have not one set genre in my bag of skills, but many, and I like surprising people and shaking perceptions. I think what is exciting is that I don’t let myself get pigeonholed. I have been on a kids’ network show as a recurring character, a Universal Studios NBC Pilot for comedy, a horror [film] that has so far grossed over 150 million dollars as an antagonist, and with my upcoming movie releasing [One Under the Sun], a girl with terminal cancer. I love that my fans, the Ava’s Angels, enjoy all of my work.”
Describing the journey her fans followed her on, the talented actress says, “It’s amazing that they have followed me from Nickelodeon to seeing their first horror Lights Out. I know they will watch One Under the Sun and gain a new compassion and wisdom and I am so excited to share that with my young teen fans. I hope it impacts them and makes them think!”
Teenplicity brings up the fact that her fans were extremely passionate when it came to submitting questions for her interview, and Ava couldn’t help but gush about them.
“My fans are amazing!” she exclaims. “They are so supportive and wonderful people. They are all so talented in their pursuits as well.” Ava is quick to mention that her fans make beautiful edits of her photos as well as create their own gorgeous art. “I have people drawing me as well,” she says. So if she could say one thing to her lovely fans, Ava is able to simply say, “Thank you, and I so appreciate your support!”
Considering Ava’s fans have enjoyed her career from Nickelodeon’s “Haunted Hathaways” to, most recently, Lights Out, Teenplicity couldn’t help but ask how the horror film set differed for her.
“Lights Out is a flat out scary horror and ‘Haunted Hathaways’ is a kids’ sitcom based on the paranormal. The thing that tied them both for me was the feeling that I was getting an opportunity of a lifetime for each of them,” Ava dishes. “‘Haunted Hathaways’ is still airing on Nickelodeon channels and I still get stopped on the street for that one. Lights Out was my first big budget studio film. Each was backed by a major studio that was taking a chance on something totally new. When you are working on something like that, you know it’s just the beginning of something great. There is wonderful feeling walking around studios. You envision all of the amazing talent that has walked around the same studio or sat in the same trailer and it’s a surreal feeling.”
The entertainment industry is best known for its “Movie Magic” and for some actors, creating the magic doesn’t have the same effect as seeing it unfold for the first time on-screen, like Ewan McGregor not getting pulled into the craze around Star Wars. In Ava’s case, she lucked out.
Actors are able to enjoy filming horror movies and not be scared for their lives during filming as they see the ‘magic’ it takes to build the tension and terror in front of the camera.
“When you are in the process of making the movies, you get to see all the tricks and how things are made,” Ava explains. “It takes the scare right out of you when there are dozens of people working around you and you just spent four hours waiting as people did your scary makeup and hair.”
Although, Ava wasn’t completely immune from being freaked out while shooting Lights Out.
“There was a room on the set of Lights Out that freaked me out though,” the actress confesses. “It was behind a huge steel door: a large medical chair sat with all kinds of exotic medical equipment around it. I was being wheeled in strapped to a wheelchair by giant orderlies, and an evil looking doctor with a face mask was waiting for me. I knew it was pretend but it still completely freaked me out!”
Thankfully her audition process for the film was pretty simple, and, along with her other projects, a great experience. Teenplicity was pleased to get a trip down memory lane for some of Ava’s auditions.
“I think the audition for Penelope Pritchard on ‘Haunted Hathaways’ was the most fun,” Ava says, when asked about an audition experience that stuck with her. “It took several auditions to book the role and I came in with big bows, an enormous tutu, and carrying my American Girl Doll. It was a high energy, super fun audition with a ton of people watching in a small room.” On the other hand, her audition for Lights Out was simple, and she booked it off of one audition. “What both had in common,” reveals Ava, “[is they were] really over the top crazy, so maybe I am that actor that can go to a really out-there place.”
On her latest project One Under the Sun, Ava says that the team behind the movie was looking for a whole other ethnicity. “But when they got my tape, they brought me right in,” she says, and tells Teenplicity that she booked it in the room. She confesses that for her audition scene, she cried on cue. “Repeatedly.”
“Each audition is really special,” according to Ava. “The ones that you book, sometimes [you] just feel like your roles when you go in. Something clicks in the room.”
If you asked Ava which character was her favorite to play so far, like Twitter fan @EmmyClaire1 did, it’s just as hard for her to pick.
“I feel like they have all become part of me,” Ava says. “I’ve played some amazing characters starting from playing an antiquated android in my first short film. I think that I had the most fun playing crazy Penelope Pritchard [‘Haunted Hathaways’], but Diana [Lights Out] and Amelia were probably the most rewarding performances I’ve done.” Considering her recent roles have be part of dramatic thrillers, the talented fifteen-year-old is eager to return to comedy. “It was great to play such intense roles, but I love to make people laugh. I wish Penelope had her own show, with her butler now as a teenager.”
Just looking at the projects that Ava has already completed, it’s no wonder that another Twitter fan, @CynthiaKaiden, asked how she balanced her career, schooling, and staying humble.
“For me, living in San Diego keeps me balanced. I really end up leaving ‘Hollywood Life’ back in LA. San Diego is my home, and I’m just a normal teen there. I have chores, school, dogs, and family that keep me grounded. I spend a lot of time at the beaches, parks and wonderful places that San Diego has to offer.” As far as schooling, the actress admits that she adores education. “I have been on Honor Roll since fifth grade. I am really into school and like learning, especially about science.”
Her humility comes easily. Ava has a good head on her shoulders and realizes how lucky some of her opportunities are.
“It is very hard to book amazing roles in Hollywood, so I just feel grateful for the ones that are meant to be mine. With all of the criticism, rejection, competition with other talented people, sometimes it baffles me [that there are] people that aren’t humble. I mean, this business can kick you down a lot, so staying positive is a necessity. People that feel superior in this biz are going to have a harsh reality call because it is full of highs and lows. In the lows, having an outside life is everything!”
In her outside life, Ava enjoys the idea of dressing up for red carpets and special events. But in real life, she likes to stay super comfortable.
Twitter user @saloninsiders asked for Ava’s fashion and beauty tips and the actress was ready to spill them all!
“First of all, beauty comes from within,” she proclaims. “A genuine smile and beautiful heart are you best accessories. That being said, I love being [able] to transform and dress up. I am so lucky to have some amazing people that love to dress me like Guess Marciano, Dirtee Hollywood, It’s Mes Amis, and Stella M’Lia to name a few. I love wearing all looks. I am really low key in real life and being comfortable is important,” Ava admits. “I love sweats and really cute PJs to wear daily.”
Defining her red carpet look, Ava says, “My red carpet look would be Old Hollywood with a modern twist. I want to look pretty and fresh. I don’t strive for a too bare look or anything too hard. If eyes are one me, I want it because I look pretty, fresh, pulled together, and classy.”
When it comes to being on Hollywood sets, there’s lots of makeup involved and stage lighting, which can lead to major sweating. Because of this, it’s really important for stars to clean their face clean.
“Love Biore strips and Neutrogena grapefruit line,” spills Ava. “I am pretty blessed to have somewhat clear skin. I wash it every night and apply a lot of sunscreen. I love the beach,” she says, but admits that she relates to her character Diana in Lights Out and stays under the umbrella. “That’s where you can fine me!” she says.
“I love shopping Sephora as well as drug stores for makeup and skin care. It’s all about mixing high and low in your life,” she supplies. “My must-have products in my makeup bag are Urban Decay Eye Naked kits, Make Up Forever High Definition Foundation, MAC lip-liners and lipstick, and Buxom Gloss. I love Physicians Formula bronzers and cheeks with Eos balm.”
Ava jokes, “For a low key girl, I was able to name a lot of products!”
Long hair has been a staple for almost all of Ava’s life. “As a ballerina, it’s super easy to pull up in a ballet bun that way.” Her tip to get this look? “I use a tiny flat iron to straighten the front of my hair and just air dry it always.” To keep her hair in tip-top shape, Ava commits to using Mitch Stone and Icon products, but says that Pantene is another great product she uses.
Even with all her beauty and fashion tips, Ava is a firm believer in being confident in who you are and how you look.
“I am extremely petite for my age. Just under 4’10” at 15. People need to realize we all come in all shapes and sizes and looks. It is so crazy to me when people comment ‘Goals’ on my photos. I mean, in real life people are really baffled at my small size. I feel blessed to be me and in the body I am in, and I want every girl to feel that way. No matter if you don’t feel you are societies standards.”
Lastly, one of “Ava’s Angels”, Twitter user @KevinSteinhart, asked when the fifteen-year-old decided to become an actress.
“I learned I wanted to be an actress for sure at age seven when I got an agent and started auditioning,” she states. “I didn’t book anything for a few months but had fun auditioning. I was performing since age three in dance and knew I wanted all eyes on me when I was on a stage. My parents thought that was pretty funny since I am a really reserved person off the stage and not in front of a camera.”
With so much going on in her life and Ava achieving a lot of goals, Teenplicity asked the starlet to reveal what she learned most about herself over the past year.
“I have learned that it’s really okay if people don’t like you, credit you, include you, or dismiss you,” Ava says. Her confidence in who she is as a person shines through as she continues, “My self-esteem and attitude only relies on me. In this crazy business of Hollywood, you have to know what is real and what is not. A lot is make believe, so most importantly I learned for me, living my main life a couple hours away from Hollywood keeps me sane and focusing on important people that are in my life. This attitude will also help me transition much easier into the adult actress I plan on being.”
Ava is currently working on projects and fans can see her in One Under the Sun this January.
*ABOVE PHOTO CREDIT TO Alikay Photos