- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - If you want an executive producer to cast you as the next Catwoman and you’re not sure of your feline sensibilities, then it’s best to consult a cat.

Just ask Camren Bicondova. She watched her own cat, Mr. G, and landed the role of Selina Kyle - aka Catwoman - on “Gotham,” the new Batman-inspired TV series from Fox.

It’s the first major acting role for the 15-year-old Bicondova, who lived in Hawaii for three years when her father, a Navy SEAL, was stationed at Pearl Harbor.

“When they told me I would be Selina Kyle, I freaked out,” she said in a call from New York, where “Gotham” is shot. “I didn’t cry in front of my mom or my manager but when I got home, I cried some joy. I was really excited. I feel blessed to be part of this project.”

Unless you’re a fan of hip-hop dance, Bicondova is probably not a household name. But if “Gotham” makes it, Bicondova could become one of TV’s fresh new faces.

While in Hawaii Bicondova belonged to the dance group 8 Flavahz, which made it to the championship round of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” two years ago. Not long afterward, her father was transferred to the mainland and Bicondova wound up in Los Angeles with acting aspirations.

She started taking acting lessons, but didn’t think it was much different than her world of dance. Bicondova started dancing when she was 5. She suffered from seizures back then and her parents believed - correctly, as it turned out - that dance would end them.

“I’ve always wanted to act, I just didn’t know how to get into it,” she said. “It kind of just happened. Dance brought me into it.”

Dancing helps with acting, she said.

“When you are dancing you have to act also, otherwise you are just doing movements, and that’s boring,” she said. “Even though I have only been acting for two years, I feel like it was a part of me.”

As the future Catwoman, her character has to be agile and graceful - traits Bicondova feels are strengthened by dancing. She wouldn’t be where she is now without dance and especially the training she received from Marcelo Pacleb, founder of the 24-7 Danceforce Studios in Kaneohe.

Pacleb connected the two disciplines for Bicondova. He told her he wasn’t feeling any emotion from her and suggested she close her eyes and feel the music.

“With dancing you are showing the music,” Bicondova said. “With acting you do the same thing. You have the lines, but you have to become the character. That’s where I think the dancing and the acting merge.”

“Gotham” recently shot its eighth episode and the schedule has kept Bicondova in New York. A high school sophomore, she takes classes online but will return to school when she’s back home in Los Angeles.

Her mother, Jessi Bicondova, views her daughter’s acting as more of a passion than a challenge. It’s harder being away from home and her father, who lives in San Diego.

“But she is happy and excited to be doing this part,” Jessi Bicondova said. “She is used to this, and she likes to work and be busy.”

Before her daughter was cast for “Gotham” and going from failed audition to failed audition - 94 by Camren Bicondova’s count - there was no need to fuel her with encouragement.

“She just never gave up,” her mother said. “She just kept going and going. It was something that we did.”

Regardless of what happens to the TV series, it’s certainly boosted Bicondova’s exposure. Her face is everywhere you see “Gotham” publicity.

And that first scene last week introduced her as much as it did young Bruce Wayne, the boy who grows up to be Batman.

“I was humbled,” she said. “This is my first television job. The start of the series is me and I think that’s really crazy.”

“Gotham” airs Mondays on Fox.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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