Apolonia Davalos is an actress who is equally comfortable on stage or in front of a camera. Her formal training includes the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and the Apprentice Program at The Barrow Group Theatre Company (TBG) in NYC. She plays lead role Marion in The Good Book movie.
When did you first discover acting?
I was nine years old. I attended my older sister’s high school production of The King and I and knew there and then I wanted to be an actress. The jovial music, colorful costumes, and acrobatic dancing invigorated and enlivened my soul with the spirit of revelation. My career goals became so clear to me at such a young age and God’s grace of such clarity continues to be a blessing!
What was your first acting role?
Professionally, my first acting role was the lead character of Beatrice in the original faith based comedy Sisters of the Church produced by the Afrikan Women’s Repertory Theatre. This production was particularly exciting because my very first show premiered in Times Square; the heart of the Big Apple. The rehearsal process and debut seemed to go by so fast, corroborating NYC’s fast-paced reputation that all residents are forced to embrace. It was an eye-opening and much learned opportunity in truly experiencing theater in the real-world versus a collegiate production. A blessing indeed!
How have you trained as an actress?
My formal training as an actress commences from the stage and film conservatory the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and the Apprentice Program at The Barrow Group Theatre Company (TBG) in NYC. My craft today, more significantly, stems from the roots of momentous lessons inspired by talented fellow thespians. To name a few, they are: Lee Brock and Seth Barrish (Artistic Directors of TBG), Sheila Head, Kristine Sutherland, James Rebhorn, Joseph Cullinane (Choreographer and Actor), Ray Virta, and Denice Hicks (Artistic Director of The Nashville Shakespeare Festival). Experience working alongside dedicated actors is the best education and I apply distinct methods motivated by and defined for each specific role. My consistent tool is classic textual/script analysis. It’s my priority to research and pinpoint (especially for film when scenes are not shot in chronological order) the arc of the character in relation to the entire story. Then, for each scene I check in and ask myself, “Am I being true to the story?” TBG has helped me the most in this endeavor with an approach that “acting is easy”. Once you do all the work, let it all go and just BE; truly LIVE within the moment. My best acting bits are sparked by genuine surprise (in character) of my actions and the actions of the individuals I’m engaging with. Acting is a team sport and LISTENING is the key skill. Imperfect and unpredictable, in real life as human beings we cannot plan our physical or emotional immediate reactions towards people, opinions, and events. So why try to do that in a scene? However, what we can know is thyself!
Tell us some of the highlights of your theater acting.
Most recently, my theatrical career highlight was starring in the role of TITANIA in The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s 2013 summer production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Centennial Park. We performed for over 15,000 Shakespeareans (my term for all who attended). We did a whole lot more than just act. Our cast interacted with the audience and reportedly enriched the lives of the whole community with joy, laughter, dance, and classical culture. Our biggest HONOR was learning how our patrons loved and reveled in their experience so much, that they kept returning again and again to relive and unveil the “Midsummer” magic with more of their friends and family. Children were dressing up as fairies and families were packing “fairy-food” to feed Puck, Oberon, Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, Kudzu, and Cicada. I surprisingly discovered how the magic extended beyond the park when I met Julie Higginbotham and her daughter Bella at a workshop led by Jenn Gotzon for The Good Book movie in Springfield, TN. Bella drew me a most colorful picture of the Fairy Queen that I treasure and still hang on my fridge today. Additional theater highlights include: Off-Broadway – Looking for Billy Haines (Theatre Row); Off Off-Broadway – Sisters of the Church (Theatre 54), Normalcy Has Been Restored (TBG Arts Center); Regional – Metamorphoses (Boston Center for the Arts), The Crucible (Salem Theatre Company); to name a few.
How does theater acting compare with film acting?
Theater and film acting definitely exercise two different acting muscles. One of the biggest differences is the process for how the performing artist develops his/her character and the time that is spent with your co-stars. In theater, thespians have the collaborative opportunity to develop their character opposite their peers over time and under the tutelage of the Director prior to the premiere of the production. The character and the portraying individual have the rewarding gift of extended time to develop an unbreakable bond between oneself and his/her fellow actor. In film, you may be introduced to your counterpart for the first time on the very first day of shooting. In which case, a lot of the preparation for the character and scene work is developed privately; and working independently requires a lot more discipline. Film and theater require their own unique demands of the professional but I thoroughly enjoy the process and performing in both.
What faith-based films have you been involved in?
The Good Book is my debut ‘faith-based’ film performance. I’m looking forward to many more!!!
Tell us about your role in The Good Book.
In The Good Book I had the HONOR to portray the lead role of MARION. Director/Writer Sharon Wilharm’s enthralling script rested in my hands until I literally read “THE END”. My heart melted when the tragic struggles of MARION’S life were unveiled to me with each turn of the page. I myself was inspired with how, whilst overcoming overpowering despair for the loss of her first born baby boy, she embraced God’s grace and opened her heart to life and love once again. I was her personal cheer leader. I remember thinking, “I want to do her justice.” I fully accepted the earnest challenge to portray such a dynamic character for a silent feature film. The role and overall story still resonates with me today. I know many people in my life who can personally relate to MARION’s circumstances. When people see this film, I pray they walk out of the theater wholeheartedly accepting and knowing that everything and anything is possible with God.
What are your career goals?
My ultimate career goal is to spend every waking day on set for a stage, film, or TV production; whilst significantly contributing to a collaborative team of artist and industry professionals eager to create great art that inspires and enriches every living soul! My dream is to work as an international actor learning and performing works in other languages!
Being cast for a lead role in The Good Book continues to truly be a blessing! I’m so HONORED that Director Sharon Wilharm had such faith in me for portraying MARION. I pray this original work of cinema becomes a renowned household name. This beautifully composed SILENT picture is faithfully inspiring. See YOU at the premiere in 2014!