The Canadian- born Avan Jogia doesn’t have time to romanticize the past, he lives in the now. That’s not to say that his yesteryears have no bearing, quite the contrary—he joined the cast of Nickelodeon television program Victorious in 2009, starring alongside Victoria Justice, Ariana Grande, and Elizabeth Gillies. Avan first came to the spotlight when he was cast as Danny Araujo in the 2006 biographical television film A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story.
Today, the 27-year-old actor has extended his creative repertoire to include writing, singing and directing. He is also an activist and always speaks up for causes he deeply believes in—youth rights and equality rights. And this is most prominently portrayed through his recent role as the millennial stoner Ulysses in the sex-positive new series Now Apocalypse, where viewers can see the perspective of a queer, brown “sexual explorer” going through unapologetic “quests pursuing love, sex and fame”. In addition to that, Avan stars in The Orchard’s The New Romantic alongside Camila Mendes, and will be seen in Shaft opposite Samuel L. Jackson in the summer.
I’ve been noticing how many young actors are coming along but whose parents weren’t in the business. So let’s start the story of your road to becoming an actor and who was your biggest inspiration?
I came into acting in the traditional sense. I watched movies and fell in love with them. I didn’t know anyone in the industry, didn’t have friends in it, so my mom just called an agency. They started me with commercials and I realized that wasn’t for me. I wanted to act and expand and do parts in tv shows and movies. I didn’t have anyone to help me find my feet but I have had mentors along the way.
You have come a long way since Victorious. Are you at a position where you envisioned yourself back in 2010?
Yes, because I am creating every day. The level in which I am creating has elevated and expanded and got larger in size and bigger in scope, but I do think it’s pretty much the same as what I was doing back then. I’m always going to be happiest when I can see my output and creativity is healthy. I don’t measure success in any other way except internal. Am I taking care of my instrument? That is what is important.
Like all Gregg Araki’s work, Now Apocalypse is pretty wild but real. To that, is there an element you struggle with the most as Ulysses?
When the character is really right for you, it’s not a struggle. I have a lot of ease playing this character. It helps that Gregg wrote it with me in mind! It’s hugely flattering and makes it much easier to play the part.
What are you most excited about being a part of Zombieland 2?
Zombieland is a legacy and has an incredible cast. I get to play a crazy character and I have been so lucky that people really let me go there and do wild stuff and see me as someone who can put on a show and as an extreme type of person. You don’t always get the opportunity to do that. It’s an out there sort of character.
You will direct your first full-length feature film entitled Door Mouse. Congratulations! What are some of the things running in your head now?
I have been acting for a decade and I am ready to start telling my own stories. It’s a bright, shiny, punk rock, loud film and I’m excited to get it told.
You’re in the music industry as well. And on top of that, you still managed to write a poetry book. Frankly, do you have time for yourself? How do you decide on your priorities?
My brother and I have a band called Saint Ivory and the poetry book that I wrote is called Mixed Feelings. That is time for myself. The most intimate, personal, meditative thing that you can do for yourself is creating things, I think. My spirituality is creativity and what centers me. The making of the book has been a complete joy and has filled up my well.
Who do you think are your followers on social media? How do you feel about them?
I think the people who gravitate toward me are people who can’t be defined singularly, and I’ve always felt that about myself. At the end of the day, I release my work for the fans of mine who are interested in my creativity.
You have a unique way of expressing yourself, especially with your two-colored leopard hair. What about individuality intrigues you?
I saw an extra in the back of American Werewolf in London and I liked his hair a lot. I took it to my hairdresser and got it done. Individuality is nature. It is everything.
Are you more inspired by what has happened in the past or what is happening in the present to shape your future?
I take inspiration from all places. What has happened will happen again so if you are looking at the past, you are also looking at the future. Any look backwards is a look forward. I get my influences from a number of places and it is my job to stay open and soak up as much influence as I can. That is why I’m very careful of who I am around and what I do and try to always be around the correct influences.
Finally, what do you think is behind the change in how your life is going now?
Creativity is the number one thing that is driving my life and the most important thing I have.