Yesterday on March 10, Examiner.com interviewed one of the stars on NBC’s new show, "Growing Up Fisher," which stars Jenna Elfman and J.K Simmons and is executive produced by Jason Bateman. The show is a comedy based on creator DJ Nash’s life growing up dealing with his parents’ divorce (which brought them closer) and his father who is blind. Ava is a star on the rise and you can catch her on an all new episode tonight at 9:30/8:30c.
Congrats on the show. How did you get involved?
It was my first pilot season after graduating from Carnegie Mellon. I was going back and forth between New York and LA for a while as most of my family is on the East Coast where I grew up. I came out to LA for pilot season and was working at a restaurant while auditioning. When I went in for "Growing Up Fisher," I remember there were all these 16 year olds who were also auditioning for the part and I thought I would never get the role because I am in my 20’s. I also figured I didn’t have anything to lose, and decided to just have fun in the audition. I didn't hear anything for three weeks, and then they called me back to meet with the producers. The next day I tested, and the day after, I found out I got the role. So it was actually really quick and seamless. I’m still shocked that I get to play a 16 year old, but that’s the beauty of what we do and I’m having so much fun with it.
What was the audition process like?
They had three different scenes that they had us prepare and asked us to choose our favorite. In the first audition, I was with one of (casting director) Jill Anthony's associates and we went through the first scene and she suggested that we do the others as well. I loved that she let me improv with her so I was able to show what I could do with the character. I feel lucky because the whole experience was really easy and I didn’t feel any pressure. The moment I walked in for my producer session with the creator of the show, DJ Nash, I found out he’s also from Boston. So we got to share a lot of stories from home, and that instantly took away any nerves.
Where did your passion for acting come from? How did you know this is what you wanted to do?
I started at a young age and actually grew up on stage in dance. I danced for about 10 years and have wonderful memories of it. But as I got older, I started doing plays instead. My mother signed me up for my first play, the "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," and I was an Oompa Loompa. It was then that I realized how much I loved doing musicals where I could sing and dance. So I went into theater and enrolled in a performing arts high school, just outside of Boston called Walnut Hill. I went there as a theater major and truly fell in love with the craft of acting. After high school, I had always planned to study in London; my father is French and going oversees was something I was really interested in. But I applied to two other schools, Juilliard and Carnegie Mellon, thinking that I wouldn’t get accepted, and when I did, I couldn’t say no. My father was a very big academic so he was really pushing for me to go to CMU. So I jumped on board and glad I did.
You graduated from Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2012? Speak about that experience!
The first two years of that program was what really changed me as an actor. They shower you with all these different tools and resources as an actor, and with all these techniques. Your junior and senior year, you get to perform and actually hone what your process is and for me, I was in a show called "Lulu," which is about a prostitute and the many men that she encounters throughout her lifetime. It wears and tears her apart, and she changes in to a new character for each of these men. It's funny how I was always cast in dramatic roles and now I'm on a sitcom! But I really do love doing both. It allows you to continue to work on your craft and experiment with different roles and sides of a character.
Tell us about your character Katie?
She is 16 years old and she's the ground of the family. She's trying to balance everything she’s experiencing during her parents’ divorce, and even though she's an adolescent, in a sense she is trying to play the mother role in a lot of ways. With her younger brother and having to take care of him, and her father who is always working and out of the house. I think all Katie wants to do is be a normal teenager, but yet there are all these circumstances and outrageous moments. A normal teenager would probably get really selfish and get angry, but the beautiful thing about Katie is that she's so mature and she chooses to accept her family and laugh and find humor in these crazy moments. She's very mature at her age to be able to step back and say I love you but you're nuts, and these will be great material and stories for my book.
Vivian Chen contributed reporting.