At the time of this posting, 12-year old ASA artist Ava Bounds was in her last dress rehearsal under the direction of Sam Mendes before her West End debut in the epic Irish play, ‘The Ferryman’, soon to transfer to Broadway.

We can all learn from the steps that Ava took:

STEP 1: She learned her craft.

Ava was one of the first students at American School of Acting. She learned the concept of opening her heart, listening, playing actions and scoring her scenes – in other words, to stop acting like a child actor. And because of that grounding in technical skills, director Sam Mendes “loved her the minute he met her,” according to the assistant director of ’The Ferryman’.
For her character Nunu, she’s even honed her tea-making skills so she can make the perfect cuppa in 35-seconds!

STEP 2: She treated every job as an opportunity to improve.

For any audition, Ava still cares about doing the best that she can. For one so young, she already lives the word ‘conscientiousness’. She still scores her scenes – and that’s what gives her work truthfulness, vitality and variety. And she slavishly learns her lines, running them constantly before an audition. She’s learned the law of acting that only then can she create spontaneous behavior. And she’s brought a spirit of focused fun to every casting or job.

STEP 3: She never gave up.

Ava spent two years facing constant rejection:
  • She auditioned for shows at the West Yorkshire Playhouse – and was cut early on.
  • She tried for Matilda but was turned away for being too tall.
  • She became a master of the bass guitar and auditioned for School of Rock, twice – with no success.
  • She auditioned for Annie and made it to the final 20 – and then had to take that long train home. The memory of her tears still makes her parents well up, and we did offer her the chance to jack it in – but she never gave up.
All this while she was learning the wisdom of the Dalai Lama, who said Remember: not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. By not getting those roles in musical theatre, Ava was preparing herself for a better role in ‘The Ferryman’ which she wouldn’t have been available for as the silent bass guitar player in School of Rock. But even still, she was invited to gig with a rock band in Leeds. Not bad for an 11-year old.
So here’s to Ava, and all the other young actors everywhere who keep the faith and keep learning.
Just having the courage to keep suiting up and showing up makes you a Star.

Bryan Bounds is an award-winning US-born, UK-based actor, teacher, writer and creator of the Neuro Acting System of actor training. He began his professional career began in 1984 and received an MFA in Acting in 1991.