Interviewed by: Caitlin Jones, CSA
1) Has there been a Casting Director that has encouraged and/or supported you in your career?
I got an opportunity to perform before Marci Phillips and that was an experience. I entered this wide bright room decorated with professional executives and then alone I see Marci Phillips staring directly into me. She’s top notch so I walked in with so much respect for her already. I knew instantly I had to emit absolute truth because she was actually looking at me - Ava - to bring humanity to this character. Marci Phillips’ words after my audition I carry with me to this day. They will forever be etched in my soul because my soul is what’s present when I act.
2) What work are you most proud of?
Each art piece I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of has allowed me to bring forth my own life experiences and truths, creating special representations for me to reflect on. I can look at the piece ‘Down Dog’, written by Claire Brooks and directed by Shae Xu, and really feel a sense of accomplishment in putting that out. As an audience you had a chance to empathize with trauma and address messages within the inflections and story movement. That film, for me, was culturally enriching with our characters being two New Yorkers of Color dealing with Trans topics directly. I will always give praise to Brandon Wilson for his decision to act in that film and for how much he gave to his role. I’m incredibly thankful when I reflect on “Down Dog.”
3) What or who inspired you to pursue acting as a career?
There’s never been another realistic path for me besides performing. I started on the stage. I’m thankful for the professionals that helped me realize that what I’m doing is a craft like Susan Batson, Omar Salmon, and Carl Ford. My manager, Boston, took me under his wing early on and drilled technique into me night and day. I was a stubborn actress determined to be “free in front of the camera.” My manager ushered in self reflection for me, making me interested in meeting the qualifications for prestige projects. I saw that there was freedom within a character but different rules for performing. He made the job interesting for me.
4) What was your first IMDBPro credit and how did you feel when you saw it?
‘Pose’ was not only my first IMDbPro credit but also my first gig that gave me enough resources to relieve myself of homelessness. Pose employed an entire community of Queer people of color and for that to have been my first IMDbPro credit - my first professional acting job - I will always be proud and thankful.
5) How has IMDBPro helped you market yourself to filmmakers?
IMDbPro puts my professional resume right on display and tells the story of my career. Not just my projects but also showcases the wicked geniuses I’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with. When it’s shown that I’ve worked consistently with strong artists in the industry I myself become more marketable. IMDbPro makes it easy to find directors that work in genres that I’m familiar with or trying to go into. The site puts me out there in the world in a way that sometimes I’m too shy to speak about, honestly. IMDbPro is the figurative person on my shoulder telling me and everyone else that I am accomplished!
6) Any funny casting room stories?
Ha! Yes. I was determined to “break the space” between my reader and I for a role I was going after. I’m there in the casting room and amped up, delivering the lines and trying to create sensation so my reading partner could really feel the environment. I want to engage him closer because I’m so in the character. I just know the audition is going to be so cool, but suddenly there’s a table separating us that I didn’t rehearse for. Before “Ava” could even think about restraint, the character leapt on that table and belted out her truth - finally breaking the space. But now the director was staring at us in sheer panic as I’m now physically embracing my reading partner in the scene. It’s his line, his eyes are bulging out of his head and he says nothing. I for sure thought that was my silent que to “have a nice day and we’ll have our people call your people, please don’t call us.” But my partner lets out a stutter while my hands are still frozen on him. He fills up with tears and tells me he’s just gotten lost in the scene. I tear up because I tried something new and it paid off. We made eye contact again and just busted out laughing. Thank you to that CD who didn’t reel me in and let the scene play out. I remember jumping and kicking up my heels when I left the room.
7) Tell us a fun fact about you outside of acting:
This may not be “fun” but it’s definitely been an amazing turning point in my life; addressing trauma. Being able to carve out time to reflect, reconnect with my birth parents and talk honestly about all of our issues has been therapeutic. I guess the fun fact would be that I was born to literal children and despite how we lost each other for a while, we are now consistently trying to heal - for ourselves and for each other - to create a better life.
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