‘Warrior Nun’ Lead Alba Baptista Is a Seasoned Telenovela Star

Netflix’s new fantasy action series, Warrior Nun, is centered on a brave young woman who unwillingly ends up in the middle of a war between heaven and hell. Alba Baptista makes her Hollywood debut as Ava on the show. But what many may not know is that she’s actually a seasoned telenovela star

Alba Baptista in 'Warrior Nun'
Alba Baptista in ‘Warrior Nun’ | Netflix

Who is Alba Baptista and what else has she been in?

Baptista is a Portuguese actor who started her career at the age of 15, starring in short films like Amanhã é um Novo Dia and Miami, for which she earned the Festival Ibérico de Ciné’s Best Actress Award. She’s starred in numerous films since then, including Caminhos Magnétykos, Imagens Proibidas, and Patrick, which premiered and competed in the San Sebastián International Film Festival in 2019. 

But in Portugal, Baptista is most known for her popular telenovelas. She had recurring roles on six TV series – Jardins Proibidos, A Impostora, Filha da Lei, Madre Paula, A Criação, and Jogo Duplo. The 23-year-old actor was also featured on episodes of Sim, Chef! and País Irmão.

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How did she get her role on ‘Warrior Nun’?

After establishing a successful film and TV career in Portugal, Baptista landed her first major English language role in Netflix’s Warrior Nun. To cast the lead, showrunners put out an international casting call, but Baptista’s audition stood out from the very beginning.

“We had casting directors in LA, in London, and in Spain,” showrunner Simon Barry told Decider. “Alba really popped up in our radar very early in the process. Our UK casting director was really taken with her, and said, ‘I think you’ve got to look at this girl, she’s got this quality.’ We immediately saw what she saw. We sent her some sides to do an audition, and the audition came back and it was phenomenal.”

“I just was really immediately locked in,” he added. “The intelligence she brought, the talent she had. She could play the funny, the dark. It was immediate for me. I didn’t have to second guess it.”

Baptista was drawn to the fresh aspect of her ‘Warrior Nun’ character

Netflix’s Warrior Nun is loosely based on Ben Dunn’s 1993 manga comic, Warrior Nun Areala. However, Baptista’s character, Ava, was created just for the series and does not appear in the comic books. In an interview with Hollywood Life, the actor said she really enjoyed having the freedom to mold the character from scratch.

“This character is just so special in the way that the preparation for the character was so different because, usually, you have to do some sort of research for every character,” she explained. “With this one, I really just needed to get loose of all of my insecurities and all of my perfectionism.”

Ava’s innocence and naivety is not something generally seen in comic book heroes. And it’s this fresh approach that really drew Baptista into the role.  

“Ava’s inner child is so present throughout the whole show, and I think that’s such a special characteristic for a character,” she added. “That made me fall in love with her instantly, just her naive state of mind and purity in a way. It’s a very different lead character I would say, especially for a series that has the sort of genre of fantasy and comic action, it’s very unpredictable.”

You can see Baptista as Ava on Season 1 of Warrior Nun, which is currently streaming on Netflix.