Calgary's Ava Tran, 12, steps into spotlight on Heartland with first professional acting role

The newest addition to CBC's Heartland is 12-year-old Ava Tran, who plays Parker on the latest season of the show.

Tran plays Parker on the latest season of the popular show, filmed in Alberta

Twelve-year-old Ava Tran plays Parker on the new season of Heartland. (Submitted by Melissa Tran)

For 12-year-old Ava Tran, watching herself on the Heartland season premiere last Sunday was "cool."

For her mom Melissa Tran, it was surreal.

"It was one thing to see her on set [when] we were filming, but then to actually see her on the screen after all the hard work she's put into this was pretty awesome to see," Melissa told The Homestretch.

Tran plays the character of Parker on the new season of the show in her first professional acting role.

"It's amazing, all the actors, they're so nice and it's just so awesome to be on a show this big," she said.

Heartland, the popular family drama filmed in and around Calgary, is now in its 14th season.

The new character of Parker brought the drama right in the first episode, with a surprise plot twist.

"Well, it was very interesting and it was really hard for me to not tell my friends, any of my friends the plot," Tran said of the spoiler. "It was a big secret to keep."

Before getting the role, most of Tran's acting was done in school plays and small gigs.

But acting is in the family blood — Tran has two sisters and an aunt who are also in the business.

Still, landing the role of Parker was a big deal, and it was months in the making, she said.

"So first I had to audition in March, right before COVID hit, and that was really good," she said. "I felt like I did a really good job because they looked at me, they smiled, and they really [had] much feedback for me." 

From there, Tran got on the short list.

"My callback was closer to the end of August, right after my birthday, so that was really fun and really exciting. And then I found out I got the role just shortly after school started," she said.

Now, it's down to work.

Tran said she looks forward to playing a strong-willed character and bringing more drama.

"She's a very independent girl, and she's not afraid to share her opinions, because she has very strong opinions," she said. "She's a very environmentally-friendly girl."

Tran said she feels her own personality is quite similar to the character she will play, with one exception — her character is afraid of horses.

"I just love animals so much," Tran said. "We are very much alike because I care about the environment, I have strong opinions about things. And she's 12 and I'm 12. And yeah, it's just really cool to just put my own ideas into my character."

Season 14 of Heartland airs Sundays on CBC and CBC Gem.

With files from The Homestretch.


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