ZOOEY spent the afternoon with Ava Deluca-Verley as she cooked up, kicked back, and welcomed us into her home. This simple afternoon of good food and lovely company is just how she says she enjoys spending her free time. Despite her recent immersion into Hollywood’s crazy world, as she stars in the premiere season of "Growing up Fisher," Ava “doesn’t like the fuss of it all” and keeps herself grounded—be it through early morning hikes with her adorable dog Finn, or her preference to keep her personal style effortless and imperfect. The move to Los Angeles has not been her only recent journey, however. She gracefully has transitioned from on-stage to behind the camera, and even ventures back into the complicated teenage mindset as she takes on the role of a 16-year-old, dealing with the trying experience of growing up in the middle of a divorce. A talented, educated and worldly role model, Ava talks about her invaluable experiences at Carnegie Mellon, the inspiring pulse of New York City, and the way that you can never, ever spend enough time in Paris.
We love the premiere season of "Growing up Fisher!" Tell us about how it has been shooting the show! It's been absolutely wonderful! The whole experience has actually been very new for me, and I love it. All my life I have been focused on theatre. I’ve had a few moments on other TV shows and in films but this has been a great opportunity for me to really explore and learn what it’s like to be in front of the camera. The people involved in the show are incredible. I've learned so much from just watching JK Simmons and Jenna Elfman work. On set, the atmosphere is filled with positivity and I think that it comes from the creator of the show, DJ Nash.
Having past experience in more dramatic roles, how has it been shooting a sitcom? You know it’s funny - at first I thought there would be a huge change...that I would have to work hard to understand. I never thought of myself as a funny person! But what you quickly realize with a show like Growing up Fisher, is that life is made up of highs and lows. The show is based on the creator, DJ Nash’s, actual childhood, and although there are hysterical moments that will make anyone smile, the reality of a family going through a divorce brings on its own set of emotions.
I will say, however, that the biggest difference for me personally has been going from the stage to the camera. Having an audience while performing is intimate and creates a bond that’s hard to recreate. Behind a camera you don’t have that instant feedback from the audience - laughter, gasps, tears, etc. With shooting a television show, the scene can be 10 seconds long and you wait months for the laughs.
How has it been playing the role of a 16-year-old? Do you have anyways to channel your inner-teenager? Playing 16 has been a blast. At that age many teens are going through major life experiences for the first time (love, sex, drugs) and trying to figure themselves out simultaneously. It's definitely a fun character journey to have as an actor. My two younger brothers are in their teens and the stories they have told me have helped me move back into that teenage mindset. I think the major difference from when I was in my teens is how technology has totally changed the way everyone interacts. How kids speak, how they bully, how they flirt - it's all through technology. It's a little terrifying for me, but that's our world now.
You have been performing for many years now, attending a performing arts high school and Carnegie Mellon School of Drama. When did you know?that you wanted to commit your life to acting?
I have always loved telling stories and making people laugh. I first was introduced to the stage with ballet. I studied it very intensely at a young age right up until high school. Around that time I struggled with body issues and ballet became a chore rather than something I loved. Theatre was my outlet where I could still be on stage but I didn’t feel I had to be “pretty and perfect.” I think realized in high school that acting was something I could do forever and that the stage was where I felt most at home.
Graduating from Carnegie Mellon, nonetheless as “Best Actor” is very impressive! What was the most valuable part of that experience? Most valuable part... Probably being able to make mistakes before I was out in the professional world. I believe that you have to fall in order to really understand yourself as an artist and it was at CMU where I was able to do that. I could push my artistic limits there and not feel judged. It was a playground for young adults!
Los Angeles is pretty different than the East Coast. How was the transition? It wasn’t that bad, actually. The weather always makes any worry go away and I really enjoy the lifestyle (farmers markets, hikes, the ocean, yoga). I moved out to LA with one of my best friends and I don’t know where I’d be without her. I think LA can be really isolating at times, so having those few people that can ground you and keep you happy really make a difference.
France is even further than the East Coast! As a dual citizen, do you spend a lot of time over there? What is your favorite area of France? Ah Paris! Just the mention of it makes me smile. I have a lot of family over there, so I get there as often as I can, but no amount of time is ever enough.
Do you see yourself staying in Los Angeles or heading back East?eventually? Time will certainly tell. I love Los Angeles for many reasons, but New York City has a special place in my heart, too. Los Angeles is full of sunlight, but it’s also home to unbelievable traffic and an intense concentration on the entertainment industry. New York has a pulse unmatched by any other place in the world. I can walk down the street and be inspired. I think I’ll definitely live there some day, but like I said, only time will tell.
I’m sure you are very busy with the new show, but when you get a free afternoon, what is your ideal way of spending the time? An early hike in the morning with my dog Finn, then stopping at the farmers market for some fresh produce and heading into the kitchen to cook. My mother is a chef, so food has always played a big part in our family - for me it's a way to relax. In the afternoon, reading a book with a big cup of tea. And in the evening, having friends over for dinner. A simple day shared with good food and lovely company.
How would you describe your personal style? We love what you wore from the shoot! What are your favorite brands? Hmm well, I don’t like anything to look too perfect. If I put on a pretty dress than I prefer to have crazy messy hair and no make-up. I just don’t like the fuss of it all - especially in today's society with how women “should look”. I’m most comfortable in black jeans and white teeshirt with my loafers. Favorite brands/designers: Celine, Balenciaga, Acne, Altazarra, Derek Lam, and Chloe.