Those who grew up knowing certain personalities as prominent faces in Hollywood may need some time to get used to seeing the whole different set of people at the forefront of some of the hit shows on television. A combination of an expanding population, as well as increased diversity, and the renaissance of television has resulted in a reality where fresh faces are the leading acts on shows and films. One of those fresh faces is Vella Lovell; the actress who plays the wisecracking neighbour of Rachel Bloom in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015).
A native of New Mexico, Lovell has been in the acting world for about six years and expertly navigates the TV, movie and theatrical spheres. She has portrayed numerous diverse characters and is dedicated to using her platform to promote stories about women of colour.
Unravelling The Actress’ Ethnic Background
Vella Lovell is often described as ethnically-ambiguous and the reason is not far-fetched. It is hard to pinpoint her ethnicity by merely looking at her and this has favoured her acting career as she has been assigned different ethnic identities in the projects that she has done thus far. In one, the actress had a Caucasian mom and an African-American dad while in another, she was cast as a Pakistani girl.
The fact, however, remains that Vella is of Asian-Indian descent but was nevertheless born on September 13th, 1985, in New Mexico, United States. At the moment, there is a paucity of information on the details of her childhood. There is also a dearth of details about her immediate family as she takes great care to protect them from the spotlight.
Despite this lack of information, it is known that Vella fell in love with the arts at a very young age and dedicated herself to mastering her passion. She first attended the Interlochen Arts Academy where she honed her skills before earning a Bachelor’s Degree from New York University after which she attended the famous art school, Julliard, and graduated in 2015.
The Switch From Concert Pianist to Acting
Although Vella Lovell’s initial foray into the arts was as a concert pianist, she later abandoned it for theatre acting as she was bored to tears. While she continued with her various stages of education, Vella Lovell auditioned for several plays and in 2009, was cast in The Bacchae. She appeared alongside Jonathan Groff in the production which took place at the Delacorte Theater. Following this humble debut, the New Mexico native had a further appearance in The Great Recession, a one-act play at the Flea Theatre in New York.
Vella’s performances in various plays in the New York theatre scene predictably drew the attention of producers and other creators and she was approached to feature in the popular web series, CollegeHumor Originals. Though she hadn’t gotten her big break yet, Vella was racking up credits for minor roles in small projects. She appeared in a short film, Three Dates, in 2014 and in the following year, appeared in another web series, OM City, as Sarah. In the same year, she played a nurse in a short film titled Bears Discover Fire.
Before she got her most significant role to date in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Lovell’s other television appearances were minor roles in Girls (2011) and Younger (2015).
Breakthrough on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
In 2015, Vella Lovell scored the iconic role of Heather in the romantic-comedy musical drama series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a CW show that revolved around Rebecca Bunch, an intelligent but impulsive lawyer who suddenly quits her fantastic job in a bid to pursue her ex-boyfriend to his new abode. In the series, Vella portrayed the role of Heather, a college student who lacks motivation for achievement and is the neighbour of Rebecca Bunch. Her character is famous for its sarcastic and sardonic take on life but she eventually warms up to Rebecca and they become good friends.
The show debuted on TV in 2014 and ran for four seasons. During this time, it received praise for the diversity of its cast which also included Filipinos and Latinos. It also earned widespread acclaim for the sensitivity with which it handled issues relating to multiculturalism. Rather than using people pf colour as the punchlines for jokes, it treated their cultures and custom respectfully. Such glowing attributes contributed to the show’s longevity. Even though it didn’t really get as many viewers as other shows, it remained on air for about four years during which Vella and her castmates entrenched themselves in the limelight.
The Big Sick and Other Projects that Vella Lovell has Featured In
Following the end of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Vella Lovell has gone on to acquire other television credits, including a voice acting role for Netflix’s series, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018), where she voiced the character, Princess Mermista. The New Mexico native is also set to feature in a proposed NBC comedy series.
Written by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, the still-untitled series revolves around a rich businessman who runs for mayor for all the wrong reasons. He later re-examines his ways and makes an effort to be on the straight path upon assuming office. The series will feature the likes of Ted Danson and Holly Hunter while Vella will portray the role of Mikaela, an ambitious political stalwart who grows from campaign manager to the mayor’s chief of staff.
Asides her TV credits, Vella Lovell is also making waves on the big screen. She was part of the supporting cast in the highly-acclaimed 2017 romantic comedy, The Big Sick. The film revolves around Kumail, a Pakistani-American comedian who falls in love with an American woman. He, however, has to contend with the lady’s ill health, as well as the love matches arranged by his parents.
The Big Sick featured the duo of Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan while Lovell portrayed the arraigned love interest named Khadija. The film was both a critical and commercial success. It received an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. It also emerged as the highest-grossing indie film of 2017 with a total of $56 million on a budget of $5 million.
Moving away from The Big Sick, Vella Lovell has starred in another independent film, All These Small Moments, in 2018. This multi-talented lady also does a little more than standing in front of the camera to act. She has also gotten into writing; she co-writes and stars in a web series, Friend Therapy, with her closest friend, Clea Alsip. She is also a member of Razor Burn; an all-female sketch group that uploads funny video sketches online.