A south Londoner through and through, part-actress-part-chameleon Ava Charles has tried her hand at a huge variety of roles both on both screen and stage. With an ever-increasing amount of rave reviews under her belt after graduating from the Central School of Speech and Drama, she sat down Wonderland for an exclusive shoot and discussed her biggest inspirations, her involvement with international charities and was asked: who would be your ideal co-star?
You studied at the prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art before training at Central School of Speech and Drama. How did tuition prepare you for life in such a competitive industry?
I tend to learn most from my mistakes and drama school provided a safe environment for me to make them in. One of my first projects was a scene from Chekhov’s “The Seagull” directed by Tom Hunsinger. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and through fear of failure I clung to what I already knew. As soon as I learnt to let go, the more risks I took and the more I wanted to be challenged. Getting the opportunity to play Lady Bracknell in “The Importance of Being Earnest” was surprisingly liberating. It’s up to you to believe that you can achieve your dreams and I haven’t got the time to entertain doubt. I honestly believe that commitment to craft, having faith, being proactive and sheer determination is eventually rewarded.
What would you consider to be the most challenging role you have played?
A play called “Golden Girls” in which I played an olympic sprinter. We began training six weeks before rehearsals began and I trained twice a day in the gym and outdoors, plus track sessions whilst rehearsing full-time. It was mentally and physically challenging but I loved every minute of it.
You’ve appeared in campaigns for brands such as Nike and Orange Mobile. Which do you prefer – stage or screen work?
I am always excited by film sets. Even when I’ve been filming in a supermarket in west London, or a block of flats in Tower Hamlets, there’s nothing like being on a set. It would be a dream to play as many characters on screen as I’ve played on stage. Theatre is wonderful because the audience are part of it and have the power to affect the show – and things go wrong but you’ve got to crack on and work it out.
You spent time in Kenya working with Children of the Tumaini Home of Hope. Is it important for you to be part of a charity and to use your career as a platform to help others?
The success of Tumaini is mind blowing. I worked at a few places in Kenya, but eventually settled at the Universal Children’s Centre Jomvu, Mombasa where I was teaching. I have huge admiration for Shakira who founded The Barefoot Foundation which aims to ensure that every Columbian child has a quality education. I’d love to establish a foundation of this scale some day.
What can we expect to see from Ava Charles next?
I’ve just been to a screening at BAFTA for a film I worked on called “The Naked Poet”. It was so lovely! It’s so nice when people you admire are lovely about your work. You never know what’s around the corner in this business, but I’m excited about the future.
If you could choose, who would be your ideal co-star?
I can’t pick one, but Ben Whishaw, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Richie Campbell (who blew me away with a stunning performance in Debbie-Tucker Green’s “Truth and Reconciliation” at the Royal Court Theatre), Nadine Marshall, Andrea Riseborough, Sinead Matthews, Idris Elba and Tom Hardy are all high up on my list.
Words: Shane Hawkins
Photos: Kevin Morosky