Ava Cantrell Answers All
Ava Cantrell can do it all (no pun intended). The multi-faceted 17-year-old actress began her career at the tender age of seven but received her big break as Penelope Pritchard on the Nickelodeon series Haunted Hathaways when she was 12, winning a 35th Young Artist Award in 2014 for her recurring role. Next, she was cast in the lead role of Brooklyn on the 2015 web-show Cam Girls the Series, which won numerous awards as well. The same year, Cantrell played Teen Diana in the supernatural horror film, Lights Out, and earned a spot on CBS’ Young Sheldon. In 2017, she took on the role of Amelia Voss in One Under The Sun, a sci-fi drama. Cantrell received the honor of being deemed Best Young Leading Actress in a Feature Film at the Young Entertainment Awards, and she was also granted the La Femme Film Festival Rising Star Award for her portrayal in the movie. Currently, the teen activist (she works with Covenant House, The LA Mission, Say No Bullying, and Project Wildsong) is starring in a new film called “A Father’s Joy,” different from any other movie she has been featured in thus far. Below, Cantrell traces her steps to success.
How did you first get into acting?
I first got into acting after developing a love for performing in dance class. My parents sent out headshots to three top agents, two replied, and the rest is history. It has been almost a decade since I began acting. My career has risen slowly and steadily, and I love that. I have really gotten to know all aspects of the business. I started in non-union commercials and short films, and booking those jobs brought me as much joy as the big jobs I’ve booked in my career.
What is the most challenging part about being an actress?
The most challenging part of being an actress at this stage is maintaining my passion. With all of the heartaches and rejection, it can be challenging, but when I get great casting feedback, book a job, or have fans love my work and want more, it reminds me to stick with it. I have other passions like photography, and I also am looking for a way as an adult to do more things in the industry than just act. I am excited to have written an optioned pilot, and I have some plans to direct and produce in the future. That definitely helps to spark more love for the craft.
What was the audition process like for Young Sheldon?
I went in for Young Sheldon and booked it after the first call. After I was on set and worked on an episode, I got called back to do another. Sometimes the roles are just yours, and it’s super easy. I love the Young Sheldon cast and crew. It’s so much fun to be on that set.
What was your initial reaction when you found out you would be playing the role of Molly on the show?
I was super excited to hear I was cast on Young Sheldon. When I got the script and saw I would be doing my scenes with Jason Alexander, I almost cried. Seriously, I am a huge fan! There may have been tears and, for sure, some screams of joy!
What is it like working with your fellow cast members on the show?
So far, my scenes have been with Iain Armitage and Zoe Perry. Iain is so talented. He was singing and dancing in one episode, and I was blown away. His voice is incredible. He is super funny and has a quick wit. He loves rocks and geology, and we both love science, so we had a blast chatting. Zoey is really kind and talented. Her smile and warmth on set are contagious.
Any funny moments from behind the scenes that you can recall?
Hands down, the best moment was filming the “Annie Play” scene with Jason Alexander. He walked out and told me that we were just going to wing it and have fun...and man, did we! Keeping a straight face in a scene with him is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my acting career thus far. The little moments in between takes where I’m talking with the cast, getting to know them on a personal level, are the most fun.
How do your characters in A Father’s Joy and Light’s Out differ?
My characters are actually very similar. Diana in Lights Out had a difficult upbringing and so does Abigail in A Father’s Joy. Both girls are very troubled, and I sympathize with them both. Diana has skin issues and can’t go in the light, and Abigail has an insane father. Diana is thrown in a mental institution, while Abigail is out on the loose, terrifying for anyone who steps in her path. Diana loves Sophie in Lights Out, and Abigail loves Lucas in A Father’s Joy. They both have no boundaries with their feelings. They will do anything for love. I will be able to show with Abigail how you can’t always tell what you’re dealing with until it’s too late. I love the layers that she has. I actually admire both of these insane characters! It’s so much fun playing someone who is the polar opposite of yourself.
How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is very surf-orientated, as I spend about six months of the year surfing daily. My red carpet style is classic, fun, bright, and not super trendy. I love trends and fashion, but I wear what works best for my petite stature and look. I’ve been told I can dress in an old Hollywood glam style, and I take that as a huge compliment.
What are your future plans?
I am super excited to be filming A Father's Joy early this year. It’s one of my biggest roles to date, and I am up for the challenge. I love the script and book adaption. I was the first one cast, but there are some really talented and big names in the mix, and I am so excited to meet everyone and make some horror magic. I love the script because it’s super layered and there are many twists and turns. I’m also in talks for a couple of other movies, as well as a pilot. I’m hopeful that 2019 will be a major year for me!
This or That:
Disney or Nickelodeon? Nickelodeon--I worked for them.
Comedy or thriller? Comedy.
Heels or sneakers? Sneakers.
Cocoa Puffs or Fruit Loops? Fruit Loops.
Fitness buff or couch potato? Fitness Buff.
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