The Blue and White

The Student News Site of Abington Friends School

The Blue and White

The Blue and White

One on One with Ava Cole

AFS Singer and Actress Extraordinaire
Nevaeh Brown ’25

Ava Cole ’25 donned silver slippers and followed the yellow brick road to center stage this fall in a performance that stunned audiences. Currently a junior, this is Cole’s second consecutive year taking the lead role in an Abington Friends School theater production.


From her origins in singing and dance, to fresh takes on the iconic character Dorothy Gale, Cole has a lot to say. I spoke with her two weeks before opening night of The Wiz about her role in the show and her experience as an artist.


Korein: What was your initial reaction when you found out you got the role of Dorothy?


Cole: I wanted to cry, because I wanted it so badly and I didn’t think I was gonna get it. I was like, “Oh, so and so’s gonna get it,”but then I got it.


Korein: How do you perceive Dorothy’s character? What kind of person do you think she is and what makes her such a compelling heroine?


Cole: Obviously every actor’s gonna come up with their backstory and interpret everything in their own way. I think Dorothy is super close to who I am as a person which is why I wanted to be her so bad. I think she’s just trying to do her best … and has all this complicated family drama … like, why is she living with her aunt and uncle? I’m sure that’s hard for her and probably contributes to her not feeling like she knows what home is. And she’s compelling because despite all of that she is super kind and finds a way to use that as fuel for kindness.


Korein: How do you feel she relates to you?


Cole: She relates to me because she’s real. My favorite song she sings is “As Soon As I Get Home” because she’s on the stage like “apparently I have to face all the drama that I’ve been avoiding for however long, but I really don’t want to, but I guess it’s what I’m gonna have to do now.” I think she’s really real for that ‘cause sometimes I’m sitting in algebra like “damn, I really do not care about functions today” – to give a really low stakes example – “but I’m gonna sit here, and I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna be a big girl about it.” I think that is what inspires me and what I think is inspiring about her–she’s a real person and she’s like “alright, fine. I’m gonna have to do this and I’m gonna do this in the best way that I can.”


Korein: What conversations with Kittson [O’Neill, Upper School theater teacher and director of The Wiz] did you have about your role and what did you try to bring to it?


Cole: We talked about making a very specific backstory and how much that would help me as an actor. I’m trying to bring a sense of teenager-ness to this role, cause I think that’s really important to the way I’m trying to portray her, and relating her to all the teenagers watching because I think she’s having a very teenager experience: feeling like everything is weird and no-one really gets you cause you don’t know what home is.


Korein: Did you take any inspiration from Diana Ross’s portrayal of Dorothy in the movie The Wiz? Did any of the elements of the movie influence your performance at all?


Cole: I haven’t watched the movie since I was really little, so I don’t really remember. Over the summer when I was trying to prepare for auditions I watched the live version cause I like it better. But as an actor, something I’ve learned a long time ago is that it’s not really good to watch other people’s performances ‘cause you tend to try to recreate what someone else did. It’s better to just interpret it the way you do and do what you feel is true to the character, so I’m not trying to take any inspiration from anyone else.


Korein: As a leading member of the Marketing Club, you were heavily involved in The Wiz not only as an actor but as a promoter. What is it like to engage with theater from both the artistic and the business side of it? 


Cole:It’s fun, ‘cause I care so much, that’s why I do it. People are like; “you’re so insane for doing that,” but…I don’t know, [business and theater] are the two loves of my life. That’s what I want to do. It’s really fun. I enjoy it, and that’s why I do it.


Korein: What sparked your interest in theater?


Cole: When I was little, I was doing dance and my mom put me in theater camp, and she was like; “you might enjoy this.” I used to get a lot of anxiety from dancing but theater was just fun. I was like; “Oh, I’m just playing here.” and I kept going.


Korein: How many shows have you been involved in at AFS?


Cole: At AFS, I’ve been involved in every show since freshman year, so that’s five.


Korein: Have you done theater outside of school?


Cole: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of theater outside of school. My favorite theater memory was performing “Bye Bye Birdie” in New York with a small group of people.


Korein: Your outstanding voice gave this show’s soul soundtrack what it needed, and in addition to your work in drama, I understand you have served as a clerk of the A-Capella club. When did you start singing?


Cole: I started singing in 2019, so not that long ago. That’s when I started to take voice lessons formally.


Korein: What was your favorite part of working through this show?


Cole: Well, I got to be best friends with my actual best friends, so that’s my favorite part: playing around with people I genuinely care about. The lion is supposed to be my best friend and Jada is my genuine best friend so that worked out really nicely. I look forward to going to rehearsal because of them.


Korein: Do you have a favorite line or moment, either from The Wiz or another show?


Cole: From The Wiz, I think Dorothy is really real, and a little funny, and people don’t think that because she’s not supposed to be funny. When she says “I don’t want to be afraid, I just don’t want to be here.” She says that two times in that song and I think that’s really funny. In other shows–in Godspell, we had this running joke that the tshirt text should be “Jesus : Dies.” And that makes me giggle to this day.


Korein: Who is your favorite character in the Wiz?


Cole: I love so many of them for different reasons. The character that is most interesting to me and maybe the one I related to at first was the Scarecrow, because he is smart but he doesn’t know he’s smart. That’s something I relate to deeply: you are this thing, but you don’t believe in yourself.

Korein: Do you plan to pursue acting as an adult?


Cole: I do. I want to be an actor.


Korein: Do you have a dream role?

Cole: This is one of my dream roles. I wanna be Nala in The Lion King, I really wanted to be Elle Woods for a long time, and I don’t think it’s possible but I wanted to play the genie in Aladdin when I was little. I still kinda do.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Blue and White Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *