Playing the leading role of a new teen comedy, the actor sat with us to discuss her journey into acting so far.


You may know Mika Abdalla already from her role as the lead spy McKeyla McCalister from the Emmy-nominated Netflix series PROJECT MC2. Now, taking the reins of her first leading role, the actress transforms into an angsty Avery, the girl-next-door starring in the sex-positive teen drama Sex Appeal. Portraying a character whose perfectionist tendencies extend from her school work all the way into the bedroom, Abdalla’s likability radiates from the screen. The role casts a fresh light on the Texas-born actress, as she grapples with mature themes in a positively relatable yet comical tone.

Sex Appeal is by no means the average coming of age story. On prom weekend, Avery’s long-distance boyfriend Casper (Mason Versaw) propositions they take their relationship to the next level by having sex. Inexperienced in the field, Avery refuses to come to terms with the possibility that she may not be any good, and instead conducts a series of sexual experiments with her childhood best friend, Larson (Jake Short).

With the film hitting Hulu on January 14, the feature has already garnered an impressive reception — with Mika Abdulla heading the hype. Upon the release of Sex Appeal, we sat down with the actress in a conversation all about the film and her journey into acting.

To watch the trailer for the film and for the full interview, scroll below…

Hey Mika, how are you? How has this past year been?
The start of last year feels like a lifetime ago, but 2021 also flew by. It’s always an exciting time when you finally get to share a project you’ve been working on with an audience, particularly with Sex Appeal. Not only was it my first leading role in a film, but I also met some truly great people during production that I consider friends now.

Loads of people picked up new skills during the lockdowns, did you try anything new?
I really got into baking layered cakes. The first one I made was a family recipe, an Italian cream cake that I baked for my birthday. Then I switched up parts of the recipe to make a lemon poppy seed cake, then a carrot cake, and it’s kept going from there.

How did you first get into acting, what sparked the interest?
I was insanely shy growing up and my mom – as embarrassing as that is wanted me to be more comfortable talking to other people. She brought me to an open casting call for the cover of a Dallas parenting magazine. I was five or six at the time. I booked it and there was something about being in front of the camera that helped me to open up. I loved the experience so much that I got an agent and started doing local commercials and independent films, and eventually came to LA to pursue acting full time.

And you were a former competitive ballroom dancer, did this prepare you for your acting career in any way?
Competitive ballroom dancing helped me to drop a lot of my inhibitions. I was always horrified of embarrassing myself and trying new things at the risk of not being good. That kind of mindset holds you back from a lot. Dancing forced me to be brave. You’re in a massive ballroom with a ton of people, and judges literally watching for you to make a mistake. I figure if I’m able to do that, I have no reason to fear taking risks when exploring and expressing my take on a character in a scene. It’s not half as scary and such a huge part of the fun.

You study alongside your career as well, do you find the balance hard? How do you navigate that?
I’ve been balancing my career and my schoolwork for over a decade. I don’t know acting without school. College is way different from high school though. I’d be lying if I said I’d never had a nervous breakdown trying to stay on top of things. At the end of the day, school provides me with a sense of routine that we don’t always get as actors. That routine keeps me in the habit of working when auditions or jobs slow down, or you know, when we fall into a global pandemic.

And now you’re in Sex Appeal, talk us through your role, how did you first get involved?
My character, Avery, is extremely cerebral and academically driven. Throughout the film, she struggles with exploring her sexuality, letting go of control of her emotions as well as other peoples, and coping with failure by turning it into a learning experience for the betterment of herself and future relationships. I first auditioned for “Avery” in January of 2021 and booked the role a month later. If I’m honest, the process was pretty stressful. I went through several rounds of callbacks and chemistry reads- all over zoom. But I loved Avery and the project from the moment I read the script, so I worked my ass off to get to be a part of the film. I even passed on another job offer because the dates conflicted with Sex Appeal.

Staring as Avery, how did you approach your character? Can you relate to her in any way?
I immediately loved Avery’s story and was definitely a lot like her in high school. I was (maybe still am) also a perfectionist and needed to have control over every element of my life. In a way, getting to know Avery as a character meant I had to get to know myself better. We both struggle with a need to overachieve and get in our heads when things aren’t going as planned and exploring how that worked out for Avery definitely led me to think about the ways that working on those aspects of myself might help me in the future.

And you’re also in Arrowverse, which is a part of the DC Comics, would you want to get move involved in MCU/DC Universe?
It’s really sick to be a part of a project that’s so ingrained in entertainment history. I had a great time working on The Flash and even reunited with crew from Project MC2. My character, Tinya, doesn’t get to be in any crazy intricate fight scenes (yet), which I think would be fun to do. Maybe then I could use some of the skills I picked up from dancing. I’m open to whatever adventure her character takes me on.

Who would you love to work with? Who inspires you?
I’m obsessed with Saoirse Ronan’s filmography. I look up to her a lot. She also started acting early on. I remember watching her in Atonement for the first time and being blown away by the capability she had at such a young age. In terms of directors, Damien Chazelle’s films helped me through tough times as an artist. Watching La La Land at a time in my career when I felt very disillusioned gave me a sense of unity among other artists. Knowing that you’re not alone in whatever hardships you’re experiencing is so valuable, and the stories that Chazelle tells speak to me in a very formative way. The opportunity to work with him one day is for sure a dream of mine.

What is one thing you wished people knew about you?
I’m still pretty shy like when I was a young girl. It can come across as quiet in a standoffish way, but I’m really just being observant and introspective. I consider myself an introvert and it can give off the wrong impression at times, so I wish people knew that I’m just not always great at opening up to others.

What are you most excited for this year?
My big goal is to finish a feature-length script that I started writing during the pandemic. I’m also looking forward to finding the next project that excites me and to keep working with filmmakers who are passionate about the stories we’re telling. I’d love to work on more independent films, perhaps a challenging drama that forces me to dig deep. This past year I got to live in a character very similar to myself, so I’m interested in exploring characters who are nothing like me.

Adam Hendershott

Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related → Related →