Rio Grande Valley actress stars in Lifetime Movie Network film Sunday

Economedes High School graduate Angelica Briones didn’t always enjoy auditioning.

“I’ve learned to love the audition process. I didn’t always like it (because) I used to get nervous,” Briones said. “But now I really enjoy it. I really love to perform so just knowing that I can get to a certain level in my audition — to hit a certain vulnerability and do a good job.”

After graduating early from high school in 2006, it was her late theater arts teacher that encouraged her pursuit of acting. Albert Garza Jr. drove Briones to Houston for an audition with the The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, which she credits for beginning her career in performance.

The Edinburg native stars in her first feature film distributed on TV, Lifetime Movie Network’s “Sinister Minister” airing at 7 p.m. Sunday. Based on a true story, Briones plays the daughter of a woman courted and targeted by a charismatic serial killer.

Moving in NYC to study was “kind of a shock,” but “definitely very exciting,” she said. Briones relocated to Los Angeles after AADA, and booked her first Screen Actors Guild gig in 2012.

Briones spends a lot of her time self-submitting for roles, booking auditions on a weekly basis.

“It’s the least I could do,” she said.

“I’ve noticed that if I go in and I’m not worried about anything else and I just do what I prepared (while) leaving room from improvisation …, that’s when I end up booking something,” she said. “I don’t mind rejection. That’s part of it. I’ve been rejected so many times so I’m definitely up for the challenge.”

Briones said she’s always had a realistic, non-glamorized view of the business. Her advice for others interesting in pursuing acting is to perform as much as possible in local theaters and friends’ short films.

She suggests making connections at a local university to get experience in their student films. They’re good practice, she said.

“Things aren’t going to always be perfect. People are going to be talking and lights are going to be hot,” said Briones of the environments shooting some scenes. “You just have to do that often enough or be comfortable enough.”

She said her passion has always been storytelling, and would like to try directing and producing In the future

“Right now I’m focused on performing,” she said. “I do enjoy learning about all the other sides of filmmaking. I think it really helps an actor’s performance when you’re well rounded in the industry.”

She credits Garza for also helping her realize that acting could be a career.

“He’s no longer with us, and he’s a huge part of why I’m even pursuing this — why I’m where I’m at right now,” she said.