On some days, Angelina Wahler is a freshman at Palo Alto Preparatory School, where her favorite subjects are photography and marine biology. On other days, she's Fee, a rambunctious cartoon imp on Nickelodeon's new show "Harvey Beaks," which premieres this Sunday, March 29, at 7 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time.
Her success at a young age is balanced by her identity as teenager who wants to do well in school, has a rebellious streak and cares deeply about her friends.
Wahler was adopted from Sredneuralsk, Russia when she was 2 years old. Her adoptive mother shared with her a love of theater, which led Wahler to study acting and singing.
After getting an agent, she appeared on the Nick Jr. show "Bubble Guppies" in the part of Deema. Her other acting credits include Nickelodeon's "Blaze and the Monster Machines" and U.S.A. Network's "Monk."
In the Palo Alto area, she recently finished a performance of "Les Misérables" with Peninsula Youth Theater. At the age of 12, she received a Bay Area Theater Critics Circle nomination for Best Female Musical Principal for her performance in "The Secret Garden," a TheatreWorks Silicon Valley production.
Wahler explained that acting suits her energetic temperament -- a liveliness that comes across especially in her voice acting. She said that often her voice characters reflect her personality.
"My character in 'Harvey Beaks,' Fee, is just this crazy little monster who doesn't follow all the rules necessarily, and I admit I don't like to do that either," she said. "But I'm a teenager."
Slightly raising the pitch of her voice is the primary way Wahler distinguishes her natural voice from those of her animated characters. On the other hand, stage acting and television acting are much more about physical transformation, requiring lots of makeup and hair work, she said. In general, she has liked the work environments of all three types of performance. When she was acting in "Monk," she was happy to find how welcoming and relaxed all the other performers were, especially the show's lead actor, Tony Shalhoub.
Now 15 years old, Wahler is focused on balancing her acting and her commitment to schoolwork. When she spoke about life after high school, she expressed a desire to go to college and continue to expand her skills outside theater, but also said she wants to keep up her acting work. She is interested in going to school for theater, shooting for New York University or Juilliard.
"Nowadays, that's still what kind of keeps me going ... knowing that I'm very fortunate to be able to do what I do and have more shows now that I work on, and being able to get the experience at such a young age," Wahler said. "And you know, wondering what will happen in the future if I keep doing it."
Her most recent voice work on the 26-episode "Harvey Beaks," created and produced by C.H. Greenblatt, tells the story of a "goody-two-talons bird," as Wahler phrased it, and his two misbehaving friends, Fee and Foo.
Wahler said she likes the show because even if the plot line typically follows the shenanigans of the trio, the bond that the three create through their adventures teaches little kids about the importance of friendship.
"(Fee) cares about her friends out of everybody, which I think is super important for all kids to know," she said. "Even though you break rules, you should stay loyal and honest with people who have been there throughout."
Maev Lowe is an editorial intern at Palo Alto Weekly