Ava Deluca- Verley stars on the NBC breakout hit GROWING UP FISHER. She plays Katie Fisher, the sarcastic yet caring oldest daughter of the Fisher family. I spoke with Ava about her audition process for the role of Katie, her training at Carnegie Mellon, and what we can expect to see on tonight’s episode.
How was auditioning for the role of Katie, how was that whole process for you?
Ava Deluca-Verley: It was actually pretty seamless, which is crazy for pilot season! I had just graduated school and I was rushing off to my third audition of the day, because — like most actors do — I was working at a restaurant while I was auditioning and I was late for work! I walked into the audition room and there were all of these sixteen year olds with their mothers, and I remember saying to myself, being a twenty-four year old, “WOW, I’m probably, definitely, not going to get this.” I prepared a scene from the pilot where my mother (Jenna Elfman) is wearing the same pants as me; it’s a funny scene. Eventually the casting director said, “Let’s do a bit of improv.” And I think, because I never actually thought I was going to get the role because I wasn’t right, I wasn’t nervous at all and was just able to play and have fun. That carried through meeting all the producers and show creator DJ Nash. The whole process is supposed to be very nerve wracking but it was actually lovely because of DJ Nash and his team that he surrounds himself. Everyone couldn’t have been more kind and supportive.
You work with such great actors like J.K. Simmons and Jenna Elfman who have had such great careers, have they given you any advice at all?
I think J.K (Simmons) has always just said just be about the work, don’t get consumed with all of the Hollywood stuff, just do the work. I think he of all actors, he lives by that. You see his work, he’s always changing, I mean he transforms. And then Jenna (Elfman) the biggest thing she taught me is laugh, humor, and don’t take things too seriously, and respect everyone. Especially with Jenna, she’s just so wonderful, and such a mom on set, she’s the best and she cares for everyone.
What have you taken from your training at Carnegie Mellon and applied it to GROWING UP FISHER?
It’s made me the actor I am today! Without that education I don’t think I could have walked into as many rooms as I did and felt confident and comfortable, especially auditioning. I think now on set just learning how to be present and learning how to do improv is definitely something that I learned from my experience at CMU. Taking direction when a director says, “Oh let’s try it this way.” Being able to understand what he’s saying and saying “Alright, cool let’s jump in!” and not question it, and go with your instincts and trust them.
The show is based off a real story; did you find that to be easier or harder as an actress to prepare for that role?
I actually think it was better; we have DJ there on set with us most days. Sometimes you get a script and you don’t quite understand this characters journey or why did I really respond like that, and I don’t really get it. And he’ll be there saying, “well, my sister did this”, and he’ll really give you this unbelievable character analysis because it is his sister, he knows her, it’s family. I actually had a wonderful experience and I got to meet his sister, and I think that was the turning point for me on how to play her. That she wasn’t just a normal sixteen year old; she had this maturity to her where all these outrageous moments are happening to her. All she really wants to do is be a normal teenager but she’s being forced to put the Mom hat on and play the mother because her mother is going through adolescence and her Dad moved out and she’s just trying to balance everything. Through all of these complications she’s using her wit and sarcasm and humor just to get through it. It’s that acceptance and love for her family that I think makes her step back and say, “this is what you guys are doing, I’ll be over here and I’m going to laugh and giggle and write this down and tell all of my friends about this experience, this is ridiculous, but I still love you.” Instead of getting so angry and saying, “why are you doing this, you’re ruining my life.” Which is probably what I would have done when I was sixteen. It was incredible meeting DJ’s sister. You can even tell now when she talks about the experiences it’s all laughing, she’s so funny; they really love their family.
Can you tell us a little bit about tonight’s episode and what we can expect to see from Katie this season?
Yeah! (Laughs) Tuesday’s episode is actually one of my favorites because it’s where you get to see Katie as a teenage girl and her having to experience boys and relationships. Unfortunately she gets to experience them alongside her mother, which is not normal. (Laughs) There are a lot of situations on this show that are not normal where her mom butts in on her teenage experiences that she should be having. But yet her mother also wants to experience them and this is another situation where Katie is made to be the Mom, but trying to balance her date and her Mom crashing the date. It’s a little horrifying, it’s uncomfortable I would say about this episode, very funny. (Laughs) No one’s really saying what they actually mean so there are a lot of quirky and crazy moments.
What do you love on TV right now? If you could guest on any show what would it be?
In my wildest dreams I would love to be on DOWNTON ABBEY, I’m obsessed with it. HOUSE OF CARDS is incredible, TRUE DETECTIVE, I think GIRLS so smart and witty, and I love the voices Lena Dunham creates. And Netflix, I mean all of their new shows ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and HOUSE OF CARDS, I was literally watching four episodes of it last night I couldn’t go to sleep. (Laughs) I’m addicted to it. I haven’t finished the season and I can’t stop watching it. (Laughs)
You can watch Ava on an all-new GROWING UP FISHER tonight at 9:30 on NBC. For more information on GROWING UP FISHER you can visit www.NBC.com
Victoria Nelli loves TV so much that she is paying $30,000 a year to learn about it in College. When she’s not learning about TV she enjoys writing about her favorite shows, interviewing anyone in the industry that will let her, and ranting about how underrated Parks and Recreation is. She is very much aware of her Netflix addiction, and no she will not be seeking help anytime soon. You can follow her on Twitter @VictoriaNelli