ST: What do you hope people will take away from our film? 

MD: That the female experience of growing up under the weight of some secretly mandated expectation of “how” to be a woman and the near constant failure to meet those expectations can create really fascinating and relatable characters. Trying and failing to meet social standards of femininity produces as thrilling and horrifying entertainment as any other action or thriller. I think that’s why Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels have connected with so many people in the last few years. We finally had someone telling the story of female friendship with a sense of gravity and importance that people could not dismiss as chick lit. You showed the opposite side of that—the terror of it all—but with the point of view that this story matters and is intrinsically thrilling.


“That the female experience of growing up
under the weight of some secretly mandated
expectation of “how” to be a woman and
the near constant failure to meet those
expectations can create really fascinating
and relatable characters.” 
— Mackenzie Davis

ST: Do you feel pressure to be a certain type of woman, the way your character in Always Shine does? 

MD: I think what’s interesting about my character, Anna, is that she feels this pressure to be different than she naturally is and that she’s never been told she could feel otherwise. She has never been rewarded for her own qualities as an aggressive, ambitious, impulsive woman; those things have hardened and mutated into real ugliness and liabilities. I experienced that pressure when I was younger. To be meeker, thinner, and dainty in some vague way that I don’t really even understand—but the point was that it was an objective that I was failing to reach. Now, I’ve been rewarded for being myself, both in my professional and personal life, so I no longer experience life as Anna does. But it did feel like I was exploring this personal cautionary tale for my teenage self, like, if you don’t accept who you are, you too will shrivel and harden into a resentful, violent person.   

ST: What are things that have surprised you about about being a working actor? And how do you balance the expectations placed on you as an actress vs your own sense of self and how you want to live in the world?