Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer: Creating Gold

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Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer Ava Gold Havana Critical Blast Interview

So you have a new music single and video debuting, "Havana," and I understand that this is inspired by the story of your parents coming to America from Cuba. Can you elaborate on that story a little bit?

My dad came from Havana. My mom came from Santiago. There was just a lot of crazy things that happened and challenging sacrifices they had to make to get to this country. You know, in pursuit of the American dream.

My dad -- first of all, he came by himself. He joined the Army to try to fight against the government there and what was happening. My mom had this huge family, lots of brothers and sisters, and had to give up some of her dreams and even her education just to help the family. Just a lot of challenging times. But when I come back home to Miama, where I was raised, you always hear Cubans, my family, saying "One day we'll be back!" There's this idea of hope, and that you haven't said goodbye, you're going to return one day when it's a free Cuba.

How much input did you have into the production of the video? As the artist, do you actually write the scenes that the actors follow?

I've been involved in every aspect of the music and the video. I wrote it, I co-produced it, and then the director, Troy Price, and I came up with the concept and started putting it together. So it was a collaboration, but I was definitely involved in it.

Why did you choose to perform this music as Ava Gold rather than Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, a name you've already established?

For me, the way that I work as a creative, I love the idea of having a new chapter and having a new name to go along with it. I think it's fun that way.

The name actually has a lot of meaning to me, so I really enjoy working under this umbrella. 'Ava' is kind of a variation of my name, and then 'Gold' to me signifies staying true to yourself. There's a quote from S.E. Hinton's THE OUTSIDERS, "Stay gold, Ponyboy." I love that quote. I feel like you should stay pure and always do music for the right reasons. Remember why you fell in love with it in the first place. So Ava Gold to me just captures the essence of what I want this project to be.

So is Ava Gold going to be your new credited name on all future projects?

I haven't really thought too much about all that. I'm still keeping Yvette as my name, and I'm going to be going out for acting and whatever else under that. But I think I'm going to do music under this name. And you never know, it could just take over and I'll become Ava Gold. But for now I'm just trying not to take it too seriously and just kind of enjoy the creation process.

We don't often delve into political discussion at CriticalBlast, but I do have to ask, given your family's story, and with the steps being taken lately to normalize relations with Cuba, is that something that comes up in family discussions much?

You know, it's funny. It's a little bit divided right now. I, for one, definitely want to take a trip out. I'm trying to plan it in August. (Don't tell my parents!) But basically there is still very much of the belief that, until it's a free country, they don't want to go back because it's still supporting a government that doesn't work and a lot of the injustice that has gone on. But I just want to go because I want to see it before McDonald's and Starbucks starting popping up. I just want to see it for what it is, and what it was. There are certain family members as well that are on the same boat, so we're trying to figure out a little family trip. It won't be everybody, but it will be some of us.

I've got to admit, I'm very jealous here, because you've achieved what's a lifelong dream for so many people. I'm not talking about being an actress or a musician, but you now have your very own cartoon character!

I know! It's so cool! I've always wanted to be a cartoon! So this was like, I was so lucky to be able to do this, and it's actually premiering in a week, on [June] 15th on Nick Jr called THE FRESH BEAT BAND OF SPIES!

I'm amazed at how young you are to have accomplished so many things. For instance, you entered high school at a very early age. I can understand getting into college on a music scholarship, in your case an opera scholarship, but for high school you really had to be excelling at every academic subject! What kind of pressure was that to keep that up?

I didn't really feel that pressure. I think what happened with me was I started second grade when I was five, because I could already read and write and do a lot of things that kids that age are usually not doing. And then I was in the gifted program, and I ended up when I was in high school taking college credit at the same time in a dual enrollment program. So by the time I finished high school, I was sixteen and already had so many electives that I was taking at community college. So when I went to college, I got out of there super fast.

But I never really felt the pressure, I was just kind of doing what was around. I was always up for a challenge. I think I can handle a lot and that just expedited the process. I wasn't stressed out about it, it was just happening. I knew that I was going to get out quickly, I knew that there was a lot to explore in life, and I didn't want to be in school my whole life. I think I also tried getting out of there as soon as I could when I got to college.

Did you know the whole time what you were going to do when you got out?

I think since I was a little girl, I've always been a creative, and I've always loved performing and making music and acting and all that. So I just always wanted to do that. I never thought of it much as a career, but then I just always kept doing it and I've always wanted to keep working. And that's a career, as it turns out! [laughs] So, yeah, I've always wanted to be a performer.

Almost right out of high school, if my math is correct, you started acting, with back-to-back on shows like BOSTON PUBLIC, 7TH HEAVEN, BOSTON LEGAL... Were you auditioning in high school, or did you wait til you got out and just took off?

I was doing theater, community theater, whatever I could get my hands on, pretty much, when I was in Miami. So I had the bug really early. I was writing plays for my sisters to be in when I was like, 6 or 7. "Come on, guys, let's do a show!"

After high school, a lot of those things started happening. I just put myself out there. Getting an agent was really interesting. It's a process. You find your way, you kind of make it up as you go along.

You have a number of charities you support. Among them, you're a Celebrity Champion for the Alzheimer's Association, and you formed Creative Minds Care in support of finding a cure for Alzheimer's. Tell us why that particular issue is so important to you, personally.

My grandmother died of Alzheimer's Disease. My knowledge of the disease is that it's hereditary, so the thought of my dad getting it, or myself, or anyone in my family who I love so much, just worries me.

My vision is to see a world without Alzheimer's. I'm working to create an annual benefit concert, just like the ones for cancer and AIDS, and bring awareness to this rising epidemic. So I created a non-profit called Creative Minds Care last year. We're in the process now of producing and developing that concert. It's going to have guest artists, and it's going to be a really huge and beautiful event. Hopefully it can help contribute to finding a cure for this.

You can visit Yvette on Facebook, Twitter, and her official home page, YvetteGonzalezNacer.com. And be sure to like us on Facebook if you enjoy this article and would like to see more like them.