Community//

Rising Star Ava Cantrell: “I encourage people to start giving back at a young age; We are the generation to make a change, and I really hope that we achieve major things”

I really think that it is important for young people as well as everyone to do something to help someone daily. It can be lending an ear to a friend, spending time with someone, volunteering, or just sharing something on social media to bring awareness. I work with a variety of charities like Paw Works, […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!

I really think that it is important for young people as well as everyone to do something to help someone daily. It can be lending an ear to a friend, spending time with someone, volunteering, or just sharing something on social media to bring awareness. I work with a variety of charities like Paw Works, LA Mission, Say No Bullying, and Starlight Kids foundation and Children’s Mending Hearts. For children;s mending hearts I was able to do a lunch auction with Charity Buzz that raised $750, and the $750 will be able to educate a school about empathy though art. I just got news that I helped Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles win $25,000 just by making a dance video for Horizon Organic Milk. In that process I asked a dance studio to include a group of awesome young kids to join me and through the process explained how important it is to use your time to give back. These examples are an example of triggering good, by using whatever tool you personally have to help make an impact. I encourage people to start giving back at a young age. We are the generation to make a change, and I really hope that we achieve major things. Everyone has something they’re passionate about.


As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ava Cantrell. Ava has been a working actress in the industry for a decade. She decided at age 17, that it was time to take her career into her own hands. Ava directed her first short film, optioned a pilot, created a comic, and graduated with a 4.3 as valedictorian. She is nothing short of being a petite powerhouse and a future female leader in Hollywood. Insightful, hardworking and a truly caring young actress is how Ava Cantrell is described. She dives into all roles with passion and clarity as well as a willingness to let it all out on the table. Ava has that rare gift of crossing between comedic, thriller and dramatic characters. She began her acting career in 2008. She has appeared in many TV commercials, music videos, short films, Television, and feature films. Ava has worked for Warner Brothers, Universal Studios, Paramount Studios,
CBS, NBC, and Nickelodeon. Ava is that rare actress that captures the attention from both critics and the teen/ young adult audience. She continues to grow her fan base as she easily moves in and out of genres. She currently has a recurring role on the hit CBS comedy series Young Sheldon. Ava was cast as Teen Diana in the Warner Brothers, New Line Cinema feature film Lights Out in 2016. She was shortly after cast as the lead in the the feature film One Under the Sun that released in 2017 which she won the award for Best Actress in a feature film. One Under the Sun shows a very dramatic side of Ava, as she plays the daughter of an astronaut in a loosing battle with cancer. She is recently cast as a lead in the 2019 feature film Abigail in title role. Her comic Amulet of Lilith is currently selling on Comixology as well in comic stores across the US. Ava is also an award winning dancer competing between 2007–2014 in the styles of Ballet, Tap, Contemporary, and musical theater. These performances can be seen on her YouTube channel Miss Ava Cantrell. Ava has a love of animals, science, and humankind and lends her time to numerous charities. Ava holds an ambassadorship with Paw Works, Say No Bullying, Starlight Foundation and the Los Angeles Zoo. She still finds moments for surfing, photography and Archery.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in San Diego away from Hollywood, and that is where I still live. As a little girl I had a love of performance. I was a dancer and I loved getting on stage in front of people and nothing about it terrified me, like many of the other little dancers. I got an agent at age 7 and started quickly working on commercials and short films. I attended public school until 5th grade, but due to bullying by the girls in my class, I started virtual school. I graduated virtual school early with a 4.3 gpa and valedictorian. I have been working slow and steady in Hollywood for a decade.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I think that acting really should be more of a passion for people. If you get to make money in it, then it is a career. I am pretty lucky to where I feel it is my career but I am also only eighteen years old, so a lot can change. My family is one of entrepreneurs . My dad actually has a Shark Tank product and deal with Robert and one of his companies “Radiate Portable Campfire” Our family has never been afraid of the road less traveled. As long as I was doing well in school, my parents said I could act. I am excited to see where the path of my life takes me, but I also enjoy each step.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I have had a few. I think working on Warner Brothers Lights Out as teen Diana filming in an abandoned hospital, ties with improving with Jason Alexander on “Young Sheldon” It was so creepy to film at an abandoned hospital in the mental ward for ‘Lights Out” There were really creepy noises and smells and everyone was utterly terrified. Jason and I had some scenes on Young Sheldon that were so fun. He walked out and basically said were just going to have fun with this for our comedic scene. I learned so much about comedy in just that one day from the master himself. He is very serious about his craft but also has a really fun spirit and willingness to lay it all out there.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh my goodness, I am such a rule follower. Truly. Mistakes on set would be my worst nightmare. I pride myself on being overly prepared. I of course have had many little bloopers and it’s always fun to work on the shows that have fun with those. Breanna Yde and I worked together when we were young on Nickelodeon Haunted Hathaways and had really fun bloopers. It was a show with ghosts that were added post production, and that was really interesting.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am so excited to have a few things in the works! It is a very exciting time. I am filming a feature film very soon called “Abigail” as the title role. It is a psychological thriller, meets Bonnie and Cylde that is set in the 70’s. It will be my first big horror role since “Lights Out” and I am so in love with the script. I will be tackling some difficult subject matter and ready to take on the role. My next director project is early 2020, called “Tire Tree” It addresses bullying and has a fun Rocky Balboa feel and it is also a period piece set in the 80’s. I created a comic called “Amulet of Lilith” that is currently selling on Comixolgy, and I am a producer for Brandon TV (Viacom, Awesomeness TV) and have a pilot called “Crestmore” in production. I am also a lead in that. It is a very fun Riverdale type with a Will and Grace twist. I am so grateful to have so much in the works!

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is so important in our industry. I think Hollywood is doing a much better job in front of the camera, although we have a way to go. With this answer I will focus on diversity in directors. I recently directed my first short film “Tire tree” and have my next director project planned for early 2020. It is shocking how few female directors there are in Hollywood. There are 24 male directors for every 1 female director in Hollywood. This is unacceptable .

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. There is no overnight success. Success in this business for me has had a lot of stops and stalls. I am really glad that my career has been slow growing an consistent. I think of all i have learned being recurring on TV shows rather then series regular. It would have been really hard, being green in this industry then getting something major. The time and experience I have gotten working on Warner Brothers, Paramount and Universal lot will prepare for the next level. I also really know what not to do, with all this experience.
  2. Other people will have feelings about what I do as well as judgements. It is amazing to me how many people couldn’t believe that I am a great student. I was on national honor roll, valedictorian , and straight A student. When I would talk about this to people, they seemed to think actresses were not that bright or even interested in education. I have had people want to befriend me, to getting bullied because I am in the industry. The most important thing that has come out of this is to ignore the noice. To the haters, ignore. To the people who want to ride your sucess, tell them to seek their own. It is shocking to me that people assume that industry people are not intelligent. It is a really difficult job, with lots of memorization, ability to take direction, as well as hard work.
  3. The extremely high ratio of auditions to low ratio of bookings. Actors go on so so many auditions to book that one role it can get very frustrating. That is the work though, and later on my manager told me that every audition is a bite size master class. That audition has you learning lines, creating a character, making choices and giving a live performance. Once I figured that out it became a lot easier to let it go after the audition was done. Some parts ended up being mine and I got to continue playing that character. The booking is always the icing on the cake!
  4. Time is different on set. A production set is bee hive of activity. So many people doing so many jobs. Most of those jobs have everyone doing something of every minute, every job except the actors. You’re waiting for you shoot time while everyone else is busy. You study your lines, you sit, you eat and wait. You study some more, they do your make up, your hair. You wear your costume and wait. Then you’re called to set, time has been barely creeping along, then you film — and it’s amazing — but that performance time seems like it passed in a snap.
  5. Unless you are an A lister, it really shouldn’t and won’t be your only job. There are jobs that you do to work around auditions and work, there are other jobs within the industry that you can do, and there are whole other career paths you will pursue while being an actor.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Burn out in our industry is really prevalent . I think it’s important to always have outside hobbies. I surf and also have a really full non Hollywood life in San Diego. I know that really helps. It is also easy to get caught up in Hollywood doing things that might not really further your career. I love going to occasional events and I will always go to a charity event where I can help, but unless you want a career as influencer, it isn’t important to go to every event, hang out with other people in the industry, or feel the need to be seen and constantly out and about. I’ve had great friends in the industry but my close circle of friends are out of it. I would be so burnt out if the industry was the only important part of my life. College, my outside relationships, and life is what keeps me grounded, happy and not burnt out.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I really think that it is important for young people as well as everyone to do something to help someone daily. It can be lending an ear to a friend, spending time with someone, volunteering, or just sharing something on social media to bring awareness. I work with a variety of charities like Paw Works, LA Mission, Say No Bullying, and Starlight Kids foundation and Children’s Mending Hearts. For children;s mending hearts I was able to do a lunch auction with Charity Buzz that raised $750, and the $750 will be able to educate a school about empathy though art. I just got news that I helped Big Brothers Big Sisters Los Angeles win $25,000 just by making a dance video for Horizon Organic Milk. In that process I asked a dance studio to include a group of awesome young kids to join me and through the process explained how important it is to use your time to give back. These examples are an example of triggering good, by using whatever tool you personally have to help make an impact. I encourage people to start giving back at a young age. We are the generation to make a change, and I really hope that we achieve major things. Everyone has something they’re passionate about.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My parents and Grandma have helped me every step of the way, and are still helping me with every step. Sometimes it is the random people that you meet for a short time on set that help you in ways that really impact you. My co-star Gene Farber (Captain America, Call of Duty and 24 actor) really helped me with tips on our movie “One Under The Sun” He also gave me some great audition tips to really get into the right head space. Really all of my co-stars, directors and production teams have really helped. I also really value my agents Nicole and Milton for believing in me for this whole entire time as well as my manager Sharon who also coaches me. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am at right now.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love the quote “This too shall pass” My Mom has been saying this to me since I was little and she is always right. There are events that have happened in my life that felt really difficult or made me really upset, but it is amazing what a good night sleep can do to change ones perspective on the previous day. In my industry the days and the players change really fast. I can loose a role one day, and get another the next or a big residual check from past work, that validates I am in it, and not to let one day or rejection get me down. I also apply this in my personal life.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I am a huge science nerd. I would choose Niel Degrass Tyson. I would love to pick his brain on the mysteries of the universe and ask him some questions.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

“Why you should take it one day at a time.” With Ben Ari & Lysa Heslov

by Ben Ari
Community//

“The only way we can change what can happen is when you take positive action to make it so” with Darren Miller

by Yitzi Weiner at Authority Magazine
Community//

Why and How Megan Sherer of Be More Decided To Change Our World

by Penny Bauder, Founder of Green Kid Crafts

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.