Ava Cantrell is widely known as Penelope Pritchard on Nickelodeon’s comedy Haunted Hathaways. On July 22nd, you can witness Ava play the supernatural antagonist Teen Diana in New Line Cinema’s horror feature Lights Out, directed by David F. Sandberg and produced by James Wan.
I got a chance to check out the film and got a little more insight from Ava herself on what it took for her to land the role, and what she’s afraid of when it comes to being in the dark.
How did you come to obtain the role of antagonist Teen Diana?
I was really excited to get the audition. My agents and manager secured it and the process was actually pretty fast. I was over the moon and so grateful when I heard that I got the role.
What scares you when the lights go out?
What scares me personally when the lights go out, is the fear of the unknown. I’ve never been a big fan of the dark. When I was little, nobody could convince me that my adorable little Shih Tzu puppy would not turn into a coyote when the lights went out. I refused to sleep with him! I think our own imagination and what lurks in the corners of our brain can be the most scariest of all. Everyone has a fear of the dark, and I think that’s one reason Lights Out will be so successful, everyone can relate and be terrified!
How did you prepare for your role and is this film based on a true story?
My incredible manager/coach Sharon Lane helped me prepare for the role of Teen Diana. I went to her office before the audition and the advice and direction she gave me really helped me secure the role. I really just went all in for it at the casting office and made brave choices which definitely paid off. There was no time for holding back in that audition room. And no, Lights Out is not based on a true story, thank goodness!
If you weren’t an actress what would you be doing?
I have many passions other than acting. Within the entertainment business, I love photography. I would possibly consider being a director or cinematographer if I wasn’t acting. Outside the entertainment business, I am very interested in science. Last year I took AP biology and got an A+.
I was so interested in everything that I was learning. My favorite book is WTF [Science] , which doesn’t stand for what you think. It stands for Weird True Facts! It is filled with incredible facts that I am so intrigued by! Did you know Manhattan weighs about 95 pounds more in bright sunlight than it does when in a shadow? Now you do. I love reading books like WTF and listening to science podcasts like Star Talk!
You are currently starring in an indie movie where you play a terminally ill girl with an anti-war message. Can you tell me more about the film?
The movie is called One Under the Sun and promotes the message that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. It does not have a US release date yet but it premiered at Cannes a few months ago. I am very proud of my work in this film and I really hope it’s something my fans will be able to see.
What other projects do you have coming out?
Right now, I’m heavily in the midst of promoting my two feature films Lights Out and One Under the Sun. I have some incredible interviews and meetings for future projects, who knows what’s in store! I can’t wait to tackle more “outside the box” rolls, like the two I just worked on. The sky is the limit!
Who is your dream co-star to work with and why?
Melissa McCarthy. Her comic timing is brilliant so hopefully some of that would rub off on me.
When you win your Emmy and Oscar, who will you thank first and why?
My Mom and my Dad of course! They mean the world to me and they’re the reason that I am in the place I’m at right now.
Since you are playing a kind of ghoulish character in Lights Out, do you think you will dress up like Diana for Halloween?
Will I dress up as Diana? Who knows! Certainly, if anyone dresses up as Diana they will have to practice my Diana voice. There are so many options for Diana Halloween costumes. You can be shadow Diana in all black with scary bright eyes or you can be Diana before she turns into the evil shadow creature, like my character, with a brown dress and a creepy umbrella. The possibilities are endless! Don’t forget Diana’s Tagline, “Keep the lights OUT!”
Ava will be giving away some fun promotional Lights Out items so make sure you follow her.