(November 6, 2022) Even as a child, she was sure that one day she would sparkle on the silver screen. And now, it seems, that her moment has finally arrived. After doing some fabulous series including Spin, Senior Year, and Diary of a Future President, Indian-American actress Avantika Vandanapu is now gearing up to lead Disney’s brand new television show, A Crown of Wishes. The 17-year-old San Francisco-based actress, who started her career six years back with a Telugu movie Brahmotsavam, will also be an executive producer on the project. Based on the young adult novel of the second book in Roshani Chokshi’s bestselling Star-Touched Queen duology, A Crown of Wishes is set to be a fantasy series rooted in Hindu mythology.
A hardworking actress, Avantika has pursued her love for creative expression through dance, acting, and other arts. Right from when she was just five, she started attending Indian classical dance classes. Drawn to the creative arts, she was selected for a dance reality show in India when she was just 10. And the rest, as they say, is history!
A star was born
Born in a Telugu family in San Fransisco, Avatiaka was passionate about the performing arts right from the beginning. An alumnus of the American Conservatory Theater, the young actress started auditioning for various parts in commercials, TV, and movies quite early. While she grew up in America, it was in India that she got her first footing in the world of entertainment. “I was selected for a dance reality show when I was ten and the competition was being held in Mumbai, India. After experiencing the hub of Bollywood, I fell in love with the film industry. I moved to India soon after I booked my first Telugu film. It was quite a transition as I had grown up in America — but it was a leap I had to take for my passion,” she said during an interview with Unclear Magazine.
“My parents were a big support — so I remain thankful to them forever. After three years of working in India, I decided to finally return to America. I felt that opportunities for POC were growing in Hollywood and I wanted to take a shot at pursuing my dreams in my homeland. After returning to the US, I realised that Hollywood had more acting roles and movies I was drawn to working in. I was determined to make a career for myself — and here we are now,” she added. After her first movie with one of the biggest Telugu stars, Mahesh Babu, Avantika bagged several small roles in the Telugu movie industry, including Premam, Rarandoi Veduka Chudham, and Balakrishnudu.
Ticket to Hollywood
In 2020, the actress got a break in an American TV series, Diary of a Future President, where she played the part of the supportive ally Monyca. While her screen time wasn’t much, it was enough for other producers and directors to notice this talent bomb. Reminiscing about how she got the part in Spin, the actress told Outlook India, “My audition process for Spin was a little unusual. I first auditioned for the project when I was 12 years old – it was my very first audition for a Hollywood movie. During that year, however, the movie went on hold as it was being developed and enhanced to be as authentic as possible. Spin came back early last year – and I auditioned for it again. I went through the standard process of an audition, call back, and a producer’s session. But my experience was slightly unique due to how full circle my entire journey ended up being.”
Spin narrates the journey of Rhea Kumar, played by Avantika, who struggles to juggle family, friends, responsibilities to her family’s restaurant, coding club, and her newfound interest in music. “She has been an extremely relatable character to me in the sense that she is struggling to find her own self and having difficulties in believing her own capabilities. I love the dedication Rhea has and the fiercely loyal person that she is. It curves out a charismatic dynamic of the character altogether,” the actress described.
Later, the actress went on to play the role of Janet in Senior Year, which garnered her a lot of critical acclaims. Earlier this year, Avantika had announced that she purchased the rights to a New York Times Best Selling Novel – A Crown of Wishes – that she will be producing. The novel centres on Princess Gauri (Avantika), who is imprisoned after a failed siege against her malevolent brother, the King of Bharata. When Gauri is exiled from her kingdom, she reluctantly teams up with Vikram, an untrustworthy prince from a rival neighbouring land, to enter the Tournament of Wishes. One wish will be granted to the winner, and though Princess Gauri and Prince Vikram have differing agendas, they will be forced into an uneasy alliance—and unexpected romance—while saving both their kingdoms.
Although the show is yet to go on floors, her fans are already quite elated with the news. Avantika wishes to bag interesting, but challenging roles going ahead in her acting career. “I would like to do movies that challenge me not only as an actor – but also contribute to society. With such an oversaturation of content in this day and age, I would really like to put my effort into producing movies that will make a difference,” she informed Outlook India.