Stay optimistic. No matter how many “No’s” in a row you get, stay optimistic, and stay excited. There was a couple of times in my career when I didn’t book anything for a year and it’s important to stay optimistic and excited every day.
I had the pleasure to interview Ava Kolker. Ava stars as Olive, Sydney Reynold’s slightly irrational but highly supportive best friend and partner in crime, in Disney Channel’s multigenerational comedy “Sydney to the Max.” Olive has four brothers, so spending time at Sydney’s house is a welcome respite from the shenanigans she endures at home. Kolker is best known for her recurring guest star role as precocious next door neighbor Ava Morgenstern, on all three seasons of Disney Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Girl Meets World.” Kolker won the Young Entertainer Award for her role on the show. Born December 5, 2006, Kolker landed her first break at the age of four on “American Horror Story.” Her additional television credits include “black-ish,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “White Famous,” “Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack,” “Sam & Cat” and the TV movie “Sister Cities.” Her film credits include “Insidious: The Last Key,” “The Trials of Cate McCall” alongside Kate Beckinsale, “Scary Movie 5,” “Message from the King,” “The Axe Murders of Villisca” and “Miss Meadows.” She also lends her voice in the upcoming animated films “Peter Pan, Land of Forever” and “Red Shoes & the 7 Dwarves.” Most recently Ava released her first single “The Good ones” to start out her music career, which is very excited about. In her free time, Kolker loves being outdoors and enjoys playing tennis, hiking, swimming and going to the beach. A California native, she currently resides in Los Angeles with her family.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Sure, I grew up with my family and my pets in the San Fernando Valley doing musical theatre, playing soccer, and going to school. I started acting when I was 4 years old, so my days also consisted of going to auditions and learning a lot of lines.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have wanted to be an actor as long as I can remember. We have home videos from when I was 2 years old saying “when I grow up, I want to be a movie star”. My parents were cracking up but I kept talking about it so when we met Gary Churchwell, a talent manager, we decided to give it a shot. I booked my first job on American Horror Story at 4 years old, and the rest is history.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Hmmm. That’s a tough one. I would say when I auditioned for Girl Meets World, I was 6 years old. They brought me back so many times and had me read for different roles each time. Then, I met with Michael Jacobs and the writers and he said to me, “well, I don’t know what we’re going to do with you yet, but you’re definitely going to be on the show.” I remember I was so excited I screamed and ran across the room, jumped on his lap and gave him a huge hug. Was definitely one of my most excited moments.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first started your career? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Yes, also on girl meets world, it was my first live audience show. I had to come on stage and sing “Look at me, I’m Ava Morgenstern” with lots of costume jewelry on. I had rehearsed it so many times and was ready, but I came from behind the door and looked at the audience and completely froze. I forgot the song, the words, everything. Michael Jacobs was so gracious and said let’s try it again, so I went back behind the door and tried it again. Came back out and froze again. I just forgot everything. I was horrified and embarrassed and started crying. Michael took me in his arms and asked me. Who is your best friend on set? I said Auggie? He said no, the audience is. They love you and will always be your best friend, and it’s ok to be human and make mistakes. Danielle Fishel also helped me that day and told me to try it again and it will be great. She said “we all make mistakes and it’s totally fine”. So I tried a 3rd time, and looked at the audience a different way and nailed it. I was so excited and learned that it’s ok to make mistakes but you have to keep trying until you succeed.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Well, I am working hard on Season 2 of Sydney to the Max and that will keep me busy until February. I also just recorded my 2nd song and will be ready to release that in the next couple of months so super excited about that as well. Finally, there is something else I can’t announce yet, but will be something new for me, and I can’t wait to share with everyone.
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?
I think it is so important to have diversity to show how we all have our talents and strengths and we can all learn from each other and the different cultures and backgrounds we come from. I think leading with diversity shows people to be more accepting and loving and inclusive, and that is so important for a more peaceful world.
What do you love most about working in television?
I love getting to work with the same people every week and the same writers who get to know your strengths and write great material to highlight what you are best at. I also love coming into someone’s home every week and take them away from their worries for a little while. It’s such a fun routine and it’s more long term than movies and I never want it to end.
If you could work with another TV actor you never worked with before, who would it be and why?
I would love to work with Lady Gaga. She’s absolutely incredible.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
5 things I wish someone told me when I first started:
1) There will be long periods of failure. I guess I thought that once you land a good role and do a good job, that you would keep working and go on to the next project. That’s not always the case and there can be long periods of rejection before the next project. Sometimes that can mess with your mind and you wonder if you “lost it” so it’s important to know that it’s part of the journey and that every actor will have periods of time where nothing is happening.
2) Stay optimistic. No matter how many “No’s” in a row you get, stay optimistic, and stay excited. There was a couple of times in my career when I didn’t book anything for a year and it’s important to stay optimistic and excited every day.
3) You’re one role away for your career and life to change: I realize now that you can do a lot of small roles but those just get you ready for your big role. I did a few movies and lots of guest star roles but I feel like all of those got me ready for my Series Regular Role on Sydney to the Max. It took me 8 years to get that life changing role.
4) Trust the process. When you don’t get a role you think you are perfect for and you know you did your best at the audition, you have to just trust the process. I remember I auditioned to be my friend Scarlet Spencer’s best friend on Cousins for life. I went to producers and was so excited because I knew I nailed the audition. Then we went out to dinner and talked about how much fun it would be to work together. When I didn’t get it, I cried and was really sad. But a couple months after that, Sydney to the Max came along and that was such a better place for me to be so now I can look at the bigger picture and know that if you don’t get something, something better is coming along soon.
5) It is a lifetime of learning. I realize now that I constantly have to get better and work on other skill sets to make me different. I work on singing, dance, martial arts and anything that can help to give me a little bit of an edge. It’s a very competitive business so always strive to make yourself a little different from the rest.
Which tips would you recommend to aspiring actors in your industry to help them to thrive?
I would recommend to work on their skills, network as much as possible, always be prepared, show up on time, and nail every audition. Always get better. Success comes when preparation meets opportunity my parents always told me. One of these days, you will be exactly what they’re looking for.
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. 🙂
Aww thank you. I would say to spread kindness. If we could all be kind to each other, kind to animals, kind to people who are different then us, it would be such a wonderful caring peaceful world. I try to make someone smile every day and I encourage everyone to think that way.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I live by saying “work hard, stay humble”.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can find me on Instagram at @avakolker, on twitter at @realavakolker and on YouTube at Ava Kolker