28th August 2021
Interview and Digital Editor: Pankhuri Bhutani (@pankhuribhutani9)
Photography: Drake Hackney (@drakehackney)
HMU: Melissa Hurkman (@mellisa.hurkman)
Styling: Avantika (@iamavantika)
Management: Echo Lake Management (@echolakeentertainment)
Publicity: Dream N Hustle Media (@dreamnhustlemedia)
Editor in Chief: Owen James Vincent
Avantika Vandanapu recently made the headlines by becoming Disney’s first Indo-American lead with her blockbuster movie ‘Spin’. Starring alongside the phenomenal Abhay Deol, Avantika portrays the character of ‘Rhea’, a charming and aspirational young lady who aims to pursue her dreams to change the world through her music.
Merely at the age of 16, Avantika has been successful in garnering accolades such as Silicon Valley Got Talent Award, American Telugu Association Star Dancer Award as well as American Telugu Association Best Upcoming Actress Award. But that’s not it, folks! Besides her knack of acting, she is also fluent in multiple languages like English, Tamil, Spanish, Hindi, and Telugu languages as well as loves to indulge in her passion for cooking, writing, art, sports, travel and combat training during her free time. A multi-hyphenate artist with a passion for storytelling, Avantika aspires to turn producer soon and release content that highlights marginalized communities and bring them to mainstream media.
ReVamp’s latest digital cover star Avantika Vandanapu recently had a delightful conversation with us in order to discuss the process behind the film, how she perceived her character, her favourite memory on set, the struggles of being a South-Asian figure working abroad, how she overcame those struggles as well as also talk to us about how it feels like to finally become the first Indo-American protagonist within a Disney movie and getting to represent her culture within projects like ‘Spin’, that aims to reach a global audience.
Hi there Avantika. Thank you for joining us on ReVamp! How are you doing amidst everything going on currently?
I am doing fine, thank you for asking. And yes, things have been quite crazy for the past few months, but I am enjoying and thriving in the chaos.
I would like to start by talking about your recent movie ‘Spin’. Huge congratulations on the project! Now that the movie is finally out, are you enjoying the responses you have been receiving from your fans so far?
Thank you very much. And yes, I am definitely loving the responses I have been receiving after the release of ‘Spin’, It is wonderful to witness how far the industry has come in lieu of inclusivity and varied character portrayals. I truly hope my character Rhea inspires other girls so that they take a leap in their faith like I did.
What was it initially that made you accept this project? How did you perceive the role of Rhea when you first read the script?
As soon as I read the script of ‘SPIN’ I was instantly attracted to the role of ‘Rhea’ like a magnet. The script was a story that could happen in any family irrespective of ethnicity. Spin depicts the life of any teenager of modern day. Also, I could totally relate with Rhea because we both have similar work ethics, morals and loyalties, and the fact that we both are so connected with our families and immerse ourselves in our friendships. Honestly, it was the approachability of the character that drew me the most. I was instantly attracted by the script the moment I read it and wanted to pursue it to perfection.
How was the experience like working on this movie? Any behind the scenes you’d like to share.
It was wonderful. To surround myself with such giving actors and hands-on learning from the cast and crew members was truly a blessing.
One of my favorite filming memories was shooting the montage sequence with Michael Bishop- who plays Max in our film! We had so much fun experimenting around, giggling and improvising things.
For the people who are yet to see the movie, what can you tell us about your character?
The character that I play, Rhea, is a bubbly, pleasant girl who is passionate about music and is realmed with extraordinary work ethics and loyalty towards her dream/goal. This is a coming-of-age story about a teenager who is discovering herself and is struggling to juggle family, friends, responsibilities and her newfound interest in music. She is definitely relatable in the sense that she is coping up with the struggles of what every teenager does. I hope I can reach out to our viewers as much as I can through her.
Besides acting, your interests branch out to a diverse number of fields. Not only are you a phenomenal dancer but you also aspire to become a producer in order to represent the stories of the marginalized communities. How did you come to this massive decision that you wanted to become a producer?
One, seeing a lack of stories that highlighted specific communities and two, my love for creating stories motivated me to pursue production. There's something so fascinating about the art of being along for the birth of a project from the start. I wanted to be able to participate, observe, and contribute to the process of conceptualization of a film idea as visualized by me right from its inception to its completion.
You recently discussed the kind of racial discriminations that you unfortunately faced when you were younger. Do you think that receiving such kind of discrimination might have acted as a hindrance towards your artistic growth? How did you cope up with these sorts of comments and kept your mind and passion solely into acting?
As an Indian-American, I faced prejudice when I was younger which was very common. I think a lot of kids my age had faced it which is aggravating and sad. However, I do not think facing discrimination has acted as a hindrance towards my artistic growth. If anything, it has made my dreams more consolidating and myself, more empathetic and understanding a human towards marginalized people who face the same.
You have successfully transformed into the first Indo-American lead in a Disney movie! How does it feel to be finally achieving this stage and getting to represent your culture within projects like ‘Spin’, that aims to reach a global audience?
Bizarre is the word. It feels insane to see the movie come to life on screen. I can’t believe SPIN is finally happening and I feel absolutely blessed to have had the opportunity to showcase my character Rhea and hopefully be a positive influence on those who watch it.