Bailey Bass stars in Avatar: The Way of Water

Bailey Bass Has Been Waiting For Avatar 2 Since She Was 12 Years Old

At 19, she’s blue and she’s feeling alright.

by Alicia Ramírez
Lais Borges/Elite Daily; Image courtesy of Jai Lennard; 20th Century Fox

Bailey Bass has spent the entirety of her teen years juggling schoolwork, gigs, and auditions… all while biding her time until the biggest break of her life could finally be released to the public. Bass was only 12 when she auditioned to play Tsireya, a Metkayina freediver and member of Pandora’s next generation of inhabitants in Avatar: The Way of Water and the subsequent three films in the franchise. The sequel took five years of pre-production, filming, and post-production, and then another two years of waiting due to Hollywood shutdowns and additional post-production. Bass, now 19, is finally ready to soar.

It’s been more than just a waiting game for her, though. In October 2022, she debuted in AMC’s Interview With the Vampire, a series adaptation of the eponymous 1994 horror movie. She plays Claudia, an older, edgier version of the kid-turned-vampire role originated by Kirsten Dunst in the film. The series has already been greenlit for Season 2.

It’s been a long road for Bass to finally see her hard work come to fruition, but the native New Yorker has the signature tenacity of her home city. “I’m just getting started,” she tells Elite Daily.

Ahead of Avatar: The Way of Water’s Dec. 16 release, Bass chats about the long road that led to her big movie debut alongside acting legends like Zoe Saldaña and Kate Winslet, the similarities between her and her Avatar character, and how she stays grounded amid her newfound fame.

20th Century Studios

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Elite Daily: Congratulations on Avatar: The Way of Water! It’s been a long time coming; tell me how your feature film debut came about.

Bailey Bass: I got the audition when I was 12. They were looking for kids 13 and up, so it was like, “I’m going to turn 13 this year, so let me audition,” and it just happened. I didn’t understand how big of a movie it was at that age. James Cameron casts — at least I noticed with the young cast — similar to our characters. Tsireya has a lot of me in the character breakdown, and I felt very drawn to her, and it was a great pleasure to play her.

ED: What do you have in common?

BB: I love how empathetic Tsireya is and her overall kindness. I remember being in school to describe someone, and “kind” was not the most descriptive word, but it’s so true to who she is and all the relationships the audience will see her have in the movie.

ED: Was it challenging to tap into your empathetic side for the film?

BB: I learned that when you’re a young actor, you have a gift, and it’s fearlessness. You don’t have the negativity to give yourself; you jump straight into things, and that’s a superpower. I could tap into my vulnerability and learn from the OGs much easier than sometimes when you’re older and overthink things. I learned a lot about being an actor on that set.

ED: I know it’s been a while since you filmed, so what memories from set have stuck with you after all these years?

BB: We had the freediving underwater performance capture, which had never been done on screen before. I loved my scenes with Lo’ak [Britain Dalton]. And even during the audition process, Tsireya had been compared a lot to Neytiri, Zoe Saldaña’s character from the first film, and that’s just a nail on the head. She’s similar to Neytiri in many ways, and great in her own right, and her relationship with Lo’ak was exciting for me to play.

ED: The Way of Water’s release was initially slated for 2020, but then was pushed due to lockdowns. That must have been frustrating.

BB: It was definitely hard, but I’m grateful for what happened because everything happens for a reason. Now at 19, I have an even stronger head on my shoulders and will be able to digest what will happen more than if it occurred in 2020. We don’t talk enough about the transition from teenager to adult, and that’s what I’m going through right now. With that, I’m learning ways to navigate adulthood, and I can use that in what I’m about to experience with the film coming out.

ED: Good point, although this experience is probably overwhelming at any age. How are you handling it all?

BB: It’s all about protecting your mental health because many artists have talked about our dopamine release when we’re either meeting fans or going on these press tours, and we need to have time for ourselves to recharge. I’m so ambitious that sometimes I don’t give myself all the rest I need. Listening to worship music has helped me; I think my faith has helped me strengthen myself and recharge that battery. Along with that, I cannot miss family time, where we watch our favorite reality shows like The Challenge.

ED: Even though you filmed Avatar first, fans were introduced to you through your role as Claudia in Interview With the Vampire. She’s very different from Tsireya; what’s it been like to play her?

BB: I’m always looking for a challenge. I never want to be bored, and Claudia gave me that challenge. I became a stronger actor by playing Claudia because no matter how much experience I had, that could never prepare me for all the trauma Bailey had to go through as Claudia.

ED: The show also inspired your jewelry company. How did that happen?

BB: I created a fang ring for my co-stars Sam Reid and Jacob Anderson as a wrap gift because I love rings — and what would be the best present to give them that would also be nostalgic? They wore the rings when doing press for the show, and fans on Facebook started talking about them, so I decided to modify them for the fans. I’m looking forward to designing and releasing jewelry very, very soon. Bai Bai Jewelry will have all the things that I’ve ever wanted but can never find.

ED: If you could tell readers who are just learning about you one thing about yourself, what would it be?

BB: I’m a songwriter. I’m releasing a song for the holidays, so I’m very excited. [“The Holidays” is out now.] I dream of acting, having my jewelry company, and writing songs for artists and movies.

ED: With a groundbreaking film now under your belt, what sort of projects do you want to explore next?

BB: I have the blessing of going into Season 2 of Interview With the Vampire, but it’s also nerve-wracking to have to top that performance. I want to play an animated character and do comedy. I’m grateful that my first two big projects have challenged me more than I could have ever imagined, and I hope that continues.

Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters Friday, Dec. 16.