We interviewed actress Ava Michelle who stars as Jodi in the Netflix movie “Tall Girl,” at the AOL Build studios in Manhattan recently. We sat in the audience and watched her interview (and even asked a question!) when she was appearing on the Build Series. Besides starring in this movie, Ava was on “Dance Moms” for three seasons.
Which do you like more, acting, singing or dancing?
I love them all. And the cool thing is, is that I can do it all at the same time. I sing in the movie. And hopefully someday I can dance in a movie. Maybe I can sing, dance and act in a movie. I love them all for different reasons, and I think they all help me with each one.
What are some challenges you faced when making “Tall Girl”?
I think the biggest challenge for me was just believing in myself because this is a huge role to take on. There was a lot on my shoulders because just being the lead of the film. The cast was amazing. I think I really truly had to learn to believe in myself and trust that I was there for a reason and really earned and deserved it. So that was probably my hardest thing.
Who was your favorite person to work while shooting the movie?
Oh, that’s so hard. I love them all for so many different reasons.
I love Sabrina [Carpenter; she played Harper]. Our relationship is a really special one to me and just like playing sisters with her was really fun. I love Anjelika [Washington, she played Fareeda]. Just that best friend relationship was great. Honestly all of them. I can’t really pick one. Luke [Eisner, he played Stig] and I had so much fun filming our scenes and doing music. And Griffin [Gluck, he played Jack Dunkleman] is just insanely talented, crazy. So that’s a difficult one.
Do you think this movie sends a good message?
I do. I think that’s one of the best things about this movie and one of the biggest reasons why I wanted the role so badly. I feel girls like you and just from your generation really need to see that we’re all struggling, and we all go through the same things. We all need to love ourselves because we are beautiful, and we are strong and you know Jodi’s a really inspirational character for that.
Have you ever been a bystander and stood up for someone?
I have. That was definitely me in school. I was always that person who would. I feel like I was kind of the Fareeda a little bit in school. You know how some friends who were picked on and it’s just not fair. I feel like why are kids so mean to each other? I guess it a lot of it comes from insecurities and I think that just again learning to love ourselves is really important. Also sticking up for friends is so important. So please do that.
What was your favorite set to film in?
I loved my bedroom actually. I want my bedroom to be like that. It was huge. And it was so cool. I want the set designers to come design my room like that because it was very cool and she was a lot more hip than I am.
What was the most challenging scene to make in the movie?
The most physically challenging scene? I would say the one where I get in an argument with Dunkleman and have to run. Because that entire time it’s like you run all the way down the street and then you walk back. And then you start the scene again. And then you run all the way down the street. So physically, that was difficult. I also hate to run.
How has your life become since becoming a celebrity?
Wow, I don’t think I’m a celebrity. I don’t know. Maybe I am. I think recently I’ve gotten a lot of big followers, which has been really overwhelming and crazy, but also it’s really cool because I have so many kids and people reaching out to me about the movie. And now I have this platform to be able to talk to people and relate to them and help them out, which I think is really really cool. I definitely don’t take it lightly. I think it’s my job now that I do have an influence to have a positive impact. And like really just like interact with you guys because honestly, all of my fans are the reason I’m where I’m at.
When did you start to get your fame?
I don’t know. Referring to myself as famous is really strange for me. I started like getting exposure to social media when I was on “Dance Moms.” I was probably around 10 or 11 when that started happening. And, you know, I got a following and had a lot of bullies on that, too, which was really difficult. So that whole journey has been interesting. I stopped being this small-town girl from Michigan.
How was your high school experience so far?
I was in regular school until eighth grade. And then I was home-schooled. I actually graduated two years early. I graduated in 2018. My high school experience was great. I got to do what I loved. I didn’t work at school, or school at home, which was great. I loved it. And it was also cool to have that somewhat normal high school experience onset.
How did you get introduced to acting?
It’s been something that I wanted to do probably since I was like 10, like when I started “Dance Moms,” and then when that moved out to LA, everyone was acting and I was like wait, so I can do this and I’m going to take classes. I started taking classes, and just really fell in love with it.
Tell us about your clothing line.
It is called #SelfLoveClub. And it is T-shirts and sweatshirts that are super-comfy. And they have sayings on them that are actually backwards so that when you look in the mirror you’re reading it for yourself. I really wanted for you guys to be able, or anyone to be able to have something that was a reminder of how amazing they are. I feel like we’re constantly looking at our phones and we’re looking at other people and comparing ourselves to them. And it normally is a negative thing. I wanted to create something that was a positive reminder and reminded us about how special we are and that we are loved and that you love yourself and so yeah, I have this new line that launched Oct. 1.
Cara Grace-Nizich’s fifth-grade class, JFK Elementary School, West Babylon