Introducing Ayva Severy of HBO’s The Garcias 

Ayva Severy I Photos courtesy of Ayva Severy

The Garcias is a reboot of the Nickelodeon hit show, The Brothers García, which ran for four seasons from 2000-2003. It was a multi-award-winning series for its non-stereotypical portrayal of a family that just happened to be Latino.

Ayva started her career at the age of five when she booked her first commercial, this was when she realized she wanted to do acting.

As a young performer, Ayva was more than excited to be a part of The Garcias family and in this interview, she shared her audition process, including the submission of self-tapes and the Zoom meetings that followed.

She is thankful that the show became a family for her and the rest of the cast. Shooting in Mexico for three months was the cherry on top as she shared it felt more like a vacation than work.

Ayva believes in the importance of diversity on the screen, especially for mixed-race children like her. She hopes that other kids who will get to watch the show will be able to relate to their characters.

“I am a mixed race. My mom is originally from Pampanga, Philippines and my dad is Caucasian (mix of Italian and Northern European). I have one older sibling,” Ayva told the Asian Journal.

Ayva has never been to the Philippines so it is her dream to go someday to meet her mom Rosalyn’s extended family.

“I hope to go in the near future. I would love to meet my extended family and visit the cool places I only get to see on the internet and taste the food. I love, love, love Filipino food!” she exclaimed, adding that her three favorite Filipino foods are arroz caldo, kare-kare & pancit Malabon.

In this interview, Ayva shares how she deals with rejection with the help of her mom who also acts as her manager. Her mom has prepped her enough to go through the process, keep learning and accept the outcome with an open heart and mind.

The Garcias picks up 15 years later when the brothers are all grownups and now have children of their own. The new extended García Family travels to the beautiful Riviera Maya in Mexico, a place full of self-discovery, where they will all learn what it really takes to be a “familia.”

How old were you when you realized you wanted to be in the entertainment industry? 

I think I really realized I wanted to be an actor after shooting a few commercials.

Shooting the first commercial, everything was so new and I was still getting used to being on set. But, a few shoots later, when I was told to draw, dance, or play, that was when I realized, I was really “working = acting”. This was a real thing! I saw the whole process, from start to end (from auditioning to shooting to seeing it on tv) and I loved every part of it. I told my mommy afterwards, “This is really fun! I wanna do more!”

What triggered that? 

I fell into acting actually by accident. I love to talk. I’m always chatting and listening! My mommy’s co-workers kept telling her to get me into acting. One co-worker was getting her daughter’s headshots done, so she told us to get it done too. My mom posted my pic on the three casting websites, and agents reached out to my mommy, and one thing lead to another, and here I am.

How did you get the HBO/The Garcias project? What was the audition process like? 

Crackerjack Management, my managers, submitted me for The Garcias project. The audition process was really fun. First step was a self-tape for the role of Alexa (older sister). Then, at the callback, I auditioned for the part of Alexa and Andrea. The final step was a Callback/Chemistry read and I only read for the part of Andrea. I was teamed up with my set parents (who already booked their roles), Elsha Kim and Jeff Licon. I remember getting called back into the zoom room several times and finding a different “Alexa”, as they were trying to cast the “Huh-Garcia” sisters.

The coolest part of this process was being told I got the part of Andrea on zoom with Trinity Bliss (Alexa). They asked us to redo the scene because there was a “tech issue.” I was the only one speaking with Elsha at that time and she was improvising. I was always told by my coach, “always stay in character until they say cut.” So I stayed in character and continued my lines, even though Elsha kept saying, “You wanna be part of the cast, you have to go to Mexico!” My zoom & wifi were glitching, and I was only hearing bits and pieces. When I saw Trinity’s face light up, and then Elsha said, “You are going to Mexico,” that was when it hit me, I got the part!

Ayva Severy at the Premiere of The Garcias

How would you describe the experience working in the show? Did you face any challenges?  

I had an amazing experience and so honored to play the role of Andrea in The Garcias. I was so lucky to work in Puerto Aventura, Mexico and it felt more like a vacation than actual work. Yes, I had to work and sometimes the hours were long, but we were working in paradise. The days off, the beach, the whole experience was magical and so fun!

The cast was so amazing too. My set family quickly became a “real” family after just a few days of work. I remember before we started shooting, the “OG” (original cast) and the new adult cast members took us (new generation Garcia kids) out for pizza and dessert. It was great because we got to know our set parents & set tios and tias in a non-work setting. It was so great because when we started working, it felt like we had known each other for a long time. It was also amazing to work with an amazing crew, who were so talented in what they do!

I think if I were to say one (minor) challenge, it would be the occasional quick turnaround with lines. As an actor, you have to memorize a lot. At times, I would get a change of script the night before, or on the spot- the same day. So being flexible and learning memory games that work best for me was important.

How do you deal with rejection at such a young age, especially when you don’t get the role you auditioned for? 

First off, I love what I do, so that helps. I love to act and I learned that booking any role, is a process and it’s not easy. My mom taught me that rejection is ok and part of the process. She has always told me, “You are gonna hear “No” a lot, but if you love what you do, you have to be ok with it.”

At a young age, she taught me the saying, “Doors will close, but doors will also open!” I have learned that once I leave the audition room, and as long as if I tried my best, the decisions that are made after the callback or avail, are beyond my control.

Like her character in The Garcias, Ayva loves learning about science.

What is your dream role? 

I love this question. I love comedy. I think my dream role would definitely be a movie with Will Ferrel and something to do with holiday fun. I watch Elf all the time, even if it is not the holidays, and I always am super happy watching it. I would love to be part of a movie that makes people laugh!

And, I would absolutely love to be a part of the Star Wars saga. I just love the storylines and the different characters. And the set location: OMG, to be able to work on these amazing sets. It would be such an honor to be part of something so well known.

What inspires you? 

My mom inspires me. She always makes sure our family is taken care of, helps me with my acting career, and works so hard. When it comes to acting, we have no experience with the industry – everything is new. My mom never gives up and is always willing to learn. She asks questions, she listens, she researches and researches some more! I cannot forget my family. They are there for me always too.

And, seeing people do good things inspires me. I remember seeing a man pull over on a busy street to give the rain jacket to an unhoused citizen when it was raining. I love that! So, I am inspired to do small good hands-on things like that.

Every Thanksgiving day, my brother and I give out paper bag lunches for the unhoused citizens. Our first year, we gave out 42 bags. Our second year with the help of the community and friends, we gave out 72 bags. We hope to give out more this year and our goal is to add blankets or other items besides food and include more of our local community.

What memorable lessons have your mom/dad taught you? 

I think one of the most important lessons I have learned from my mom is, “Don’t Give Up! Stay strong. Doors will open and doors will close and to just keep at it!” In this business, you hear a lot more “NO” than Yes. So, I know I have to just do my best. I do add one part to the lessons above: reflection. If I feel like I could have done something differently, then I sit and reflect with my mommy. I think taking that quick “recheck” is important, so I won’t have the same mishap next time. But that’s it – I let it go afterwards. I do not sit and wonder or overthink. I move on to the next opportunity. If I do not get the job, there will be lots of opportunities in the future.

Another lesson I have learned from them is balance. Balancing school, work and fun is key. My mom and I put everything in our calendar and, we try not to wait last minute because things come up. My mom and I communicate a lot about how I am feeling because balancing everything can get hectic. So, I would tell kids who are new and starting in the business, “to work hard – never give up, but also give yourself a chance to take a break too!” I believe in the saying, “Work hard – play hard!”

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].

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