Movie Stars: Ciara Bravo–Cherry’s New Star

From Nickelodeon to Indie Drama Cherry: Ciara Bravo, from Child-Star Image to Matures Roles


Ciar Bravo by Joy Wong
Photographed by Joy Wong

Bravo started out on Nickelodeon at age 12 and successfully transitioned to serious grown-up roles.

Discovered by a modeling agent when she was a child contestant in a county fair beauty pageant near her family home in Alexandria, Kentucky, Bravo began making commercials.

She had an uncredited role in Angels & Demons and garnered her first break when she landed a role playing a younger sister in the popular Nickelodeon musical comedy series Big Time Rush, about a hockey boy band, which premiered in 2009.

Bravo quickly realized she was more interested in being an actor. By the time she was 16, she earned a role in the Fox medical dramedy Red Band Society, in which she played a teenager suffering from anorexia.

In early 2019, Bravo received an email from her agents at UTA asking if she’d like to audition for a role in Cherry, an indie drama from Marvel directors Anthony and Joe Russo about the opioid crisis that stars Tom Holland.

Given the names involved in the project, she never thought she’d get the part. “I sent a tape and then forgot about it to protect my sanity. It is so easy to get your heart broken in this industry,” says Bravo.

Cherry producer Mike Larocca, who runs the Russo brothers’ production company AGBO, recalls, “The guys watched the tape and said, ‘Let’s cast her.’ She had her own spin on the role. More than anything, she felt more vulnerable than others. She felt the most authentic.”

Cherry is a leap forward for Bravo, now 23. The film, debuting March 12 on Apple TV+, is based on the novel of the same name by Nico Walker about a young Army veteran who starts robbing banks to support his opioid habit.

Bravo plays Emily, his young sweetheart who later becomes his wife and also becomes hooked.

Bravo is circumspect about fame and says her parents — who run a limo business in Cincinnati — always kept her grounded. She lives in Los Angeles with her sister, Rikkel, a film publicist, and their two Maltipoos.

Getting stuck in the tween universe, unable to break out?

Absolutely. That’s what happens to most people. They try to break out, but no one takes them seriously. I was lucky in that I was never the star in that world, I was always the sidekick and the sassy little sister.

Role of Emily in Cherry?

As an actor, my mouth was watering when I read the script. There are so many different sides to this character. A month later, my agent called. I thought, “Is he going to drop me? Why is he calling me?” When he told me that I had booked Cherry, I was speechless.

Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo in Cherry
Courtesy of AppleTV+ Bravo with Tom Holland in Cherry.

Addiction in your own family?

Growing up in the Midwest, which is ground zero for the opioid epidemic, it’s almost impossible to not know someone who has been affected, either personally or secondhand. I was lucky in getting to visit a rehab center in Cleveland, where we shot the film, and speak to people about what it is like.

Working during the pandemic?

No, aside from doing press for Cherry, it’s been mostly staying home and reading scripts.

Comfortable working on a set right now?

It’s now possible to feel safe. My hesitation in the beginning was not so much for myself, but for the rest of the crew because I’m very lucky in being an actor. You are considered a priority, and could be treated better than the rest of the cast and crew.

Inspirations as an actress?

Toni Collette and Amy Adams.

Coping this past year?

I’m very introverted. I didn’t know how badly I wanted the government to tell me I had to stay home. It’s me, my older sister and the dogs.