Actress, singer, songwriter, and even director of her own music videos, Marcela Avelina will make her television debut as a series regular in Netflix’s Grand Army set in New York City. Grand Army is an adaptation of the play SLUT by Katie Cappiello which played in the West Village. Born in Manhattan to a Honduran mother and an Irish American father, Marcela joined the cast of SLUT as “Julie” while attending high school. She played the role of “Julie” for two years as well as formed part of the play’s first national tour.
In Grand Army, Marcela plays Flora Mejia, an honour-roll senior who is in a one-year relationship with one of the protagonists, Sid Pakam (Amir Bageria). However, Sid is hiding something from everyone close to him, including Flora. Grand Army is set to premiere on October 16th, 2020, on Netflix.
For the past six years, Marcela has been making a name for herself in the NYC club scene, having performed in venues in both Manhattan and Brooklyn and in DIY venues throughout the city. Marcela will also release her latest single “Took Me Out” later this month with Beachball Records, a collective she initiated alongside fellow musicians with whom she has been working for years. “Took Me Out” will be the debut single for her upcoming album.
What can you tell us about your character Flora?
Flora is a senior at Grand Army. She’s focused and knows what she wants.
How did you discover your passion for acting?
I took an acting class when I was really young and loved it. I just always wanted to do it.
Do you prefer acting for television or theatre?
I grew up doing theatre and that’s where my foundation comes from, but I always wanted to do on-screen work and hopefully will have the opportunity to continue to do so.
What drew you to this particular role?
Flora has a very nuanced relationship with Sid. I love that Flora is an active part of the relationship, not just a trope. She’s so smart and grounded. Flora is also a young Latina girl that has complete agency over her sexuality which is not something we usually get to see on screen. She isn’t afraid to get vulnerable in order to aid herself in her own healing process.
How do you feel about the series’ premiering?
I’m so excited and tremendously grateful to be involved.
Do you think the audience will love and feel for Flora? Or will she be disliked?
Hopefully, they will feel for her. Love takes on many different forms and it is not as straightforward as the world wants to lead people to believe. People are complex and ever-changing. Sexuality is complex. There are no rules or limits to what a person’s journey with their sexuality looks like. I think Flora understands that but also advocates for herself, as she should.
How is your character similar and different from you?
I have a lot of empathy for Flora because my first boyfriend and I went through a similar situation as her and Sid in high school. To this day he’s one of my best friends and we love each other dearly.
What would you like the audience to learn from Flora?
Young girls are beautiful multifaceted beings. There is so much there at all times. There’s independence, there’s fear, there’s grief and there’s pure bliss. Vulnerability and power are not mutually exclusive.
As a New Yorker yourself, do you think the series is accurate in relation to your experience of being young and growing up in NYC?
Absolutely. I’m amazed at how accurate it is.
How would you describe yourself as an artist to someone who has yet to listen to your music?
I guess I would say that I’m being honest when I make it. Lyrics and soundscape are equally as important to me. My music isn’t married to one genre necessarily.
What is the story behind your new single “Took Me Out”?
“Took Me Out” is about taking accountability while also holding someone accountable. Allowing space to acknowledge the feelings that come with loss and finding comfortability in change.
What can future fans expect from your upcoming album?
I don’t have much music out but I’ve been recording for a long time. I think this album is more honed in and fully realized. It’s an album for anyone looking to reflect and/or confront. That looks different for everybody, but the music was born out of a time that was full of that for me.
Did directing your own music videos influence your relationship to acting in any way?
For sure. I had been acting for a while before I started directing music videos. I think acting helps with music and music helps with acting. I’ve always been in love with music videos. I obsess over them…like really freak out over the ones that I love.
What have been your favourites moments of your artistic career thus far?
Being a part of Grand Army was an absolute dream. Making this album has been one of the most cathartic experiences of my entire life. I’m just so grateful that the two experiences are aligning with one another.