Whitney Avalon ’03 continues to make her mark acting in Hollywood
Although Avalon graduated in 2003, she believes her classes and professors in the theater department served as the base for her career. Courtesy of Theo&Juliet
Although Avalon graduated in 2003, she believes her classes and professors in the theater department served as the base for her career. Courtesy of Erica Parise
Avalon played a coffee shop barista in CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.”. Courtesy of CBS
From sharing the stage with comic film star Jack Black to sparking feminist debates on various online publications with her pop-song parodies, actress Whitney Avalon '03 has had a lot of unique roles through her work. One such role was playing an adulterous wife in the internet soap opera parody Ikea Heights, which was shot in an Ikea store unbeknownst to its employees and customers. Avalon shared her take-aways from projects like Ikea Heights and her memories from her time at Brandeis.
Avalon, a Theater Arts major at the University, was a very active student on campus. She DJ-ed on WBRS, wrote for the Arts section of the Justice and co-produced The Vagina Monologues. However, she remained mainly committed to theater. "I have always performed. I started [on stage] at age six, while growing up in Needham, [Mass.]," she said in an interview with the Justice.
Avalon helped put together The Vagina Monologues through her role as a founder of the Vagina Club and shared that she still stays up to date with what happens at the University because of the connection she established with the arts department during her undergraduate career.
"I just saw that they are still putting the show on, which I could not be more excited about. One of my co-producers, and co-actors, is now an assistant casting director out here [in Los Angeles], and we still get together," she said.
Avalon recalled that one of her favorite faculty members in the Theater Arts program at Brandeis influenced her along the way. "Adrianne Krstansky, who is an amazing professor, taught a lot of theater while I was there," she noted.
"She directed one of the most amazing shows that I have been a part of, which was Charles Mee's The Trojan Women: A Love Story. It's this dark, twisted, beautiful [story] with drama and comedy. I loved it, and it's [also] nice to keep in touch with [Krstanksy] on Facebook, see what she's up to ... and keep her up with what I'm doing here [in] Hollywood."
During her senior year, as her thesis, Avalon wrote and starred in a one-woman play titled Sweet Inverted Princess. "It was [about] this woman who had just won a 'Who Wants to be a Princess?' competition. People thought it was insane, but I had actually seen it on television ... and that inspired the idea of this [character] who kind of figures out if this is what she really wants," she explained. "It was the first time that I wrote something of substance for myself to perform, [and] a great and scary way to say what I wanted to say."
She has continued to develop witty and hilarious concepts influenced by popular culture and has translated these ideas into videos she shares on her Vimeo and YouTube pages. Avalon describes her first video, a parody of Cee Lo Green's hit song "F**k You" on her YouTube page as addressing "the song's allegations from the woman's perspective." Avalon cleverly imagines the perspective that Cee Lo creates in the original song as coming from an angry, obsessed stalker, instead of the heartbroken, yet resilient person left by their ex with whom listeners have sympathized. The video has over 200,000 views and was featured on online publications like PerezHilton.com, Jezebel.com and LaughingSquid.com.
"It went viral, immediately, because of the controversy [that resulted from others] reading into what [the song] meant. Jezebel.com posted it as 'Look at this feminist anthem,' ... a bunch of men's rights and anti-feminism websites wrote comments about it like, 'Get back in the kitchen.' All I was trying to do was make something funny," she explained.
Another video she created, "Why I Love the New Facebook Timeline," was inspired by Avalon's wariness about how much personal information Facebook users are exposing to the online community.
"I just started writing this from the perspective of someone who thinks it's awesome if you leave everything public so that [he or she] can read everything [the Facebook user] has ever done," she shared. A week after it was posted, Avalon found a Polish website that had translated her video into Polish and the discussions it was creating in the comment section. "I translated the comments, and they were actually having a discussion in Polish about what they had on their Facebook page ... it hit me across the face, in a wonderful way," she recalled.
Avalon has also been a part of some comical moments on television. At the 2008 Spike TV Video Game Awards, she played the Demon of Healthy Relationships in a skit with actors Craig Robinson and Jack Black.
She has also played a coffee shop barista during a moment of public indecency with Kunal Nayyar's character Raj in the CBS comedy series The Big Bang Theory. "The show is taped in front of a live audience ... Seeing their reactions was really great," she said about the experience.
As a cast member in the web series Ikea Heights, Avalon dove into an offbeat role, storyline and set. "[During this series,] I got to have the once in a lifetime experience of, you know, crawling into Ikea beds, and fake-dying on the floor of the store's bathroom," she said. The show was produced through Channel 101, "a monthly mini-TV show film festival that was founded by Dan Harmon [creator of Community on NBC and co-creator of The Sarah Silverman Program] and Rob Schrab [co-creator of The Sarah Silverman Program]," she explained. This was not Avalon's first time working in comedy, and ispreceeded by a lot of acting experience.
Recently, Avalon has been focusing on more dramatic roles, like her part in the short film Seven Lanterns, which was screened at the Boston Comic Con Film Festival. She acknowledged that studying theater at Brandeis provided "a good foundation" for her career.
"I always had the sense that I was the weird, creative girl ... It was beautiful to arrive at Brandeis and find a bunch of theater people that were creative just like me," she said. "I'm fortunate that Brandeis has a lot of great arts programs, including the theater department."
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