‘Tall Girl 2’s Ava Michelle On Jodi & Dunk’s ‘Beautiful’ Ending Moment & A Third Movie

Ava Michelle returns as Jodi in the highly-anticipated 'Tall Girl 2.' HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Ava about Jodi overcoming new insecurities, the Jodi and Dunk situation, and being a role model at 19.

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When Tall Girl was released in 2019, it became an instant sensation and made a star out of Ava Michelle. Jodi Kreyman’s journey continues in Netflix’s follow-up Tall Girl 2. This time around, Jodi confronts more of her insecurities and rises above to continue being her authentic self.

The sequel features a number of twists, including Jodi and Dunkleman’s breakup. However, these two lovebirds do find their way back to each other in the end and say all the things they’ve wanted to say. Ava broke down all things Tall Girl 2 in our EXCLUSIVE interview. From the Jodi and Dunk breakup to Jodi’s Bye Bye Birdie debut to a third movie, we’re discussing it all. Read our Q&A below:

Ava Michelle
Ava Michelle as Jodi in ‘Tall Girl 2.’ (Netflix)

Did you ever think when you made the first one that people would respond to it so much and that there would be a demand for the sequel?
Ava Michelle: No, not at all. I was just focused on that one movie that I finally booked and just making that one the best I could. And then when it came out, honestly, the response I think shocked everyone on how well it did, especially me. And then after how good it was doing, there were some talks about it, which was just so exciting. I mean, for me, the thought of continuing this journey and making another movie just in general is so exciting. So the fact that it still happened after the pandemic and everything was shocking, and I was very happy that it did.

Jodi went through one journey in the first movie and almost a completely different one in the second. How did you feel exploring even more of Jodi’s insecurities and diving really deep into that? I feel like we all have a voice in our head just like that.
Ava Michelle: It’s such a universal thing for us to all relate to. I think the first movie really deals with the outside forces that tell you you’re not enough and make you insecure to those bullies and those other people in your life who don’t truly support you and then overcoming that. Now Jody is okay with that. She’s confident and she’s told everyone how she is. I think that the worse bully is the one in your head that just kind of creeps in, and she has to figure out how to deal with it. I think realistically, that’s always going to be there for all of us. The important thing is just figuring out how to deal with it and how to combat those thoughts with positive ones and ones that are reassuring of who you are.

I feel like that nagging anxiety, that voice on your shoulder, like you said, honestly can be worse.
Ava Michelle: I think it is because there’s a part of you that you trust yourself and you value what you think of yourself. Other people you can kind of take with a grain of salt because they don’t know you, but you know you. So you saying those things about yourself gets a little confusing. I think it’s harder for us to take and to deal with. You can’t really escape that so yeah. I understand why Jodi had to deal with the anxiety. I think whether it turns into an attack or not, we all have those feelings of just when everything just is piling you down on us, and there are so many things going on where we don’t know what to do.

Ava Michelle
Ava Michelle and Jan Luis Castellanos in ‘Tall Girl 2.’ (Netflix)

Was there ever a point when you were filming where you felt a sense of deja vu like this is exactly what I felt at a certain point or how I’m feeling now in your real life? Did you and Jodi’s lives intersect? 
Ava Michelle: I swear the writer follows me around every day because when I read the first one, I was like, this is my life. This is crazy. I think I actually said that at my audition, and I didn’t realize they were recording me. So part of my audition tape was me being like, I think the writer’s stalking me. This is crazy. But the first one I think matched my emotional journey as well. Jodi is coming into something that she’s trying to prove herself and define herself and find her self-confidence, and she finally does it. So that for me was the movie coming out because I didn’t truly believe in myself until that actually came out and people actually liked it. I think coming into the second one just like Jodi, you’re kind of on a high. A lot of people are looking up to you, they know what you’ve done, and they know where you’ve come [from], and she has a lot of pressure. That’s kind of how I was feeling as well and just trying to make this a different film but also as good as the first one or to live up to people’s expectations.

There are a couple of new characters in the sequel like Tommy. Before you saw the whole script, did you think Tommy could make a play for Jodi? 
Ava Michelle: I think he and Jodi have art in common, which is really interesting. It’s kind of like Stieg, they bonded over music. They’re bonding while they’re in rehearsals together, so for a second I was like, “This is cute.” But there’s just something so beautiful about her and Dunk in their relationship and their friendship. Griffin [Gluck] and I, we have a good friendship. I think it’s like building on that makes such a strong relationship. I think that’s why we all love that is because they really just truly love each other for who they are.

Were you surprised by Jodi and Dunk’s breakup at the beginning of the movie?
Ava Michelle: It was so sad. It was just so terrible. It’s the most frustrating thing because we’re watching this, and we know they both don’t want to break up. We know that this is just because they don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to communicate. There’s so much going on for both of them, and they don’t know how to come to each other and just say, “This is how I’m feeling.” Honestly, we all do that. It’s hard. Sometimes we try to avoid it, and we try to be strong and act like we’re fighting for the other, and then it just all crumbles. I think that’s what happened. So as a viewer and even reading that and seeing that they went through that is difficult.

There are so many things I loved about the sequel, but I loved Jodi and Dunk’s big “I love you” moment? What did that mean to you as someone who plays have of this couple? To see them get to this moment after so many struggles? 
Ava Michelle: It’s such a beautiful moment. I remember reading the script, and I’m like, “Finally.” Because they do [love each other]. Something that’s really beautiful about that scene is there is that moment between when he says it, and when Jodi says it. And it’s just like, in between that moment, he’s freaking out. He’s just being Dunkleman. I think they both just realize that they truthfully just love each other because of their crazy little things that are about them. It’s such a beautiful moment. That happened to me this year, too. I had my first “I love you” with a boyfriend. It’s so powerful, and I think at this age, it’s very real and true. We are trying to protect ourselves and not say it. It’s such a vulnerable thing, and it was just amazing to portray that in their journey.

Jodi gets the lead in Bye Bye Birdie, which is such an iconic musical. How did you feel performing,  especially that opening number?
Ava Michelle: It was amazing. Honestly, those were some of my favorite days filming “One Boy”. I mean, it was just a surreal experience being able to act in a film but also go to dance rehearsals because dance is where I came from. I was always on the other side of it. I was always the dancer in the film or the dancer in something, so being able to have those roles kind of flipped and bringing that art form was just so amazing. I loved it so much. Also, I’ve never done theater or any type of school anything. Tall Girl is my high school experience. It’s been pretty great. I booked the lead in the school musical. I enjoy my Tall Girl high school.

Ava Michelle
Ava Michelle and Griffin Gluck in ‘Tall Girl 2.’ (Netflix)

Are you hoping for a Tall Girl 3? 
Ava Michelle: They need to graduate. I mean, come on., we need to know if they’re together. I think it would be great. I think we should do it. I would love it. But we’ll see. We’ll see.

That’s a whole other story, Jodi going off to college and experiencing a whole new group of people who maybe embrace her automatically. That could be really fascinating because college is such a whole new world.
Ava Michelle: It’s a whole different dynamic. It’s also figuring out what to pursue, and what you’re going to do with your life and being on your own. In high school, we have the luxuries of really relying on our family and our friends that we’ve grown up with since our childhood. So I think that can be a really fun thing to explore, all of the newness of that and maybe restarting. But I don’t know, I’m not the writer. I’m sure Sam [Wolfson] is going to do something that aligns with my life way too much.

Since the first movie came out, it’s had such an incredible response. As someone who is so young but is such a role model, what has it been like managing that role that you are to so many young girls?
Ava Michelle: I’m, first of all, so, so grateful for it and so grateful that the movie meant something to people. I think that is the greatest honor to be a part of something like that. But also there was a point where I really freaked out a little bit about followers. I also just think it’s such a huge responsibility when you carry that power. I think that sometimes it can be taken for granted, the influence that we really do have on people and have on the youth. So for me, it’s really important to be as honest as I can and portray real things on social media as much as possible. Whether that’s just answering some DMs every once in a while of advice that people are asking, or just random things that I’m posting, I think it comes with a huge responsibility, and I hope that I am doing well with it all.