For Ava Capri, acting is all about diving into the character — what makes them tick, what’s hiding below the surface, and what isn’t being said or described in the script. With projects like Love, Victor, Embattled, and the forthcoming Little Rituals, it’s clear that Capri seeks out roles that both elevate a script and show a new side to who she is as an actress. Her latest flick is Netflix’s Do Revenge in which she portrays “villain” Carissa, a change of pace from the characters she’s played prior. If you’re nostalgic for 90s films like Jawbreaker and Heathers, this is a movie for you. The plot seems simple — two girls team up to get revenge on their tormentors — but, like with everything Capri touches, there’s something bubbling underneath the surface that isn’t overt.
After pulling her away from petting sheep in Oregon while on vacation, Schön! chats with Ava Capri about her beginnings as child actor, what attracts her to a script, working on Do Revenge, and more.
Your first acting credit was back in 2015 with Parks and Recreation. How would you say you’ve grown as an actress between then and now?
Getting that [role] was at the height of my obsession with Parks and Rec. I remember I was taking UCB classes at the time and was obsessed with Amy Poehler and the whole SNL women scene. It was a single line that I yelled to Amy’s character in a town hall meeting [laughs]. Since then, the size and influence of the roles I’ve been able to do has been crazy. That was a great job to ‘start’ on. I just had such an amazing time. I remember I got a call from my managers and they said I was in the running and on the day the director would make the final selection. I booked it and then found out Amy Poehler was directing the episode. It was a super special moment for me.
I’m obsessed with her. Her book is so good. Everything that she touches is golden. I’m assuming you were able to witness her work both behind the camera and on-screen?
Her book was just coming out around the time we filmed that, too. She’s really nice. This funny thing happened when we were sitting in the makeup trailer. It was pre-book coming out, so you can imagine she’s a very busy woman. A long time passed and she looked over at me and I had been sitting there for a long time. She laughs, which makes me laugh, and then we’re both laughing. She introduces herself and you could tell she was in business mode. When we were rehearsing she was down to improv with me if I wanted to. I felt like I was living my dream.
I read you did a bit of acting when you were younger but didn’t pick it back up again until after high school. What caused the sudden urge to get back into it?
When I was a child, it was always a thing I would do for fun and I was good at it. My parents never wanted me to be a child actor so they didn’t push it too much. As I got older, I was doing a few commercials and got back into it. I played competitive soccer for a long time and was getting burnt out. At first, I just did commercials to make some money, but then transitioned into wanting to do television and movies. It’s a whole different ball game. I fell in love with the first acting class that I went to. Although I’ve been a child actor it feels like I hadn’t discovered acting until I was much older, once I got to learn about creating a character and emotion.
Is there anything specific that attracts you to a script? I know if I got the script for Do Revenge, knowing Jennifer Kaytin Robinson was involved would be enough for me. Her show Sweet/Vicious is one of the greatest shows ever.
She’s a genius and Someone Great is one of the best movies ever. I watched Sweet/Vicious a bit. Jen is always creating stuff that isn’t exactly what you see. Do Revenge pays homage to so many types of movies and genres, but it’s a modern take on it all. With the Do Revenge script, in particular, I love that the character feels like they have a lot going on underneath. I seek out characters that are multi-dimensional. I auditioned for Eleanor first and the process took so long. I remember hearing they really loved my tape and stuff, but offered Eleanor to Maya Hawke which makes complete sense. The producers liked me enough to keep me in mind and many months later reached out for this other role. There are projects that have a certain ‘it’ factor and as soon as I read the script, it had ‘it’ factor all over it.
It was inspired by Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, were you familiar with it prior?
I was! I took a Hitchcock film class when I went to college briefly. We watched 15 movies and that was one of them. And like, we watched like 15 Hitchcock movies and like, that was one of them. I feel like themes from that have played out in different films but I love how Jenn did it for Do Revenge.
Carissa is a different character than people you’ve played in the past. What was it like fleshing her out?
She’s a fun character to play because of her dimensions to her. The perception of the audience is a really fun and interesting thing to play with. When you rewatch the film, all of the characters and the plot are like a whole new experience. Carissa is really smart, she knows what’s going on. Not everything is black and white despite her being painted as the victim.
What piece of advice would you give to Carissa from you, Ava?
I’d tell her to hang in there. She went through a lot. I had to go through what she experienced. I would say there’s a lesson in how your actions affect other people. That’s the main thing to remember. The small things have an impact on people and it’s hard to run from that.
Is there a scene or a moment from filming that really sticks out in your mind?
The entire summer was like a dream. We wrapped up a year or so ago. I just saw Talia who plays Gabbi. We were hanging out on what was our wrap day last year, which was nice. It was just a crazy time, a bunch of hot people gathered in one place in Atlanta [laughs]. When we were filming the ring ceremony scene, we all stayed up so late and ended up having a dance party just offset. We were all so goofy. We finished filming in Miami, just shooting the exteriors, and we were just on the beach having a vacation.
Do you kind of look at your films as a snapshot of a moment in time?
I definitely think so. In this film especially because we all became so close, that chemistry you see in the film is completely made from spending so much time together. It was during the rise of Delta and as filming was happening we had to get more and more insular to protect ourselves. We just got so close. When I watch it now, it brings me back to that time. It was a pure summer camp experience. In Miami, we all stayed at one hotel and the top floor was just our cast. It had these balconies that you could jump off onto this turf roof. Everyone would leave their doors unlocked so everyone would be running into each other’s rooms. Literally summer camp.
I read that you were recently obsessed with the film Cha Cha Real Smooth which I also loved. What are some other things inspiring you as of late — books, movies, music?
I just started A League of Their Own and I love it. Abby Jacobson’s whole trajectory has been incredible to watch. I love that she made the show, I think it’s so perfect for her. I think it’s so perfect for her and shows her off as an actor because she made it for herself, you know what I mean? I was thinking about that while watching it. It’s so fun and gay.
Lastly, if you could manifest something for yourself this year, what would it be?
I really want to work on a project that I’m really excited about with people that I think are really wonderful. I want to work with people that I’m inspired by.
Are you interested in writing your own projects?
I feel shy about talking about it because my girlfriend is like a real writer. Sometimes I get intimidated but I actually have something that I’m writing with a friend right now. It’s in the early stages, but I definitely one day I would definitely love to direct. All in time because right now I have the acting itch I need to scratch.
Do Revenge is streaming now on Netflix.
photography. Lili Peper
fashion. Tabitha Sanchez @ The Only Agency
talent. Ava Capri
casting + production. Alabama Blonde
hair. Glenn Ellis
make up. Taylour Chanel @ The Only Agency Using Chantecaille
photography assistant. Rocky Weinberg
hair assistant. Laura Cabott
words. Kelsey Barnes