Images by Jan-Willem Dikkers
“It’s a wild ride to be able to fall in love with a character’s story,
to create someone who doesn’t exist and who is so far from who you really are.”
— BAILEE MADISON
Born and raised in Florida, Bailee Madison has been acting since she was five years old. She is known for her roles in Bridge to Terabithia (2007), Brothers (2009) and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010). Currently, she stars in the Hallmark Channel series Good Witch, and the recently-released horror film The Strangers: Prey at Night.
#tshirtsusa is an ongoing portrait series between up-and-coming actors, models, artists, musicians, and photographers. Wearing a t-shirt, each is interviewed and photographed in their environment, be it at home, studio or out in the world.
Following in the footsteps of her mother and older sister, Florida born actor Bailee Madison started acting when she was five years old, appearing in films such as Bridge to Terabithia (2007), Brothers (2009) and Guillermo del Toro’s thriller Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010). Now eighteen, the award-winning actress has appeared in a variety of diverse and challenging roles, as well as recently penning her first book, a young adult novel titled Losing Brave. She currently stars alongside Christina Hendricks and Martin Henderson in the highly anticipated horror film The Strangers: Prey At Night. Madison chats with us about how her acting background influenced her writing and how she plans to step behind the camera next.
Where are you from?
I was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida! I grew up in a town called Lauderdale by the Sea, and I still go home whenever I can.
What’s your story of getting started as an actor?
My story is one of pure joy and gratefulness. I grew up watching my mom and my sister act, and I remember being so mesmerized by them. One day, when I was five years old, my sister Kaitlin, who is 13 years older than me, went into an audition. When she came out they saw me and asked if I would audition. I went in there and from that moment on, God blessed me. I booked that film, which was called Lonely Hearts. I then went on to send in a tape for a movie called Bridge to Terabithia and filmed that in New Zealand for 6 months. We went back home afterward, for me to go back to school, and when I was seven we went out for the premiere and everything from that point on has been nothing short of a blessing, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
What do you like most about your line of work?
I love so many things about what I do. Traveling, being exposed to different cultures, meeting people who push me every day to dream and think bigger. It’s a wild ride to be able to fall in love with a character’s story, to create someone who doesn’t exist and who is so far from who you really are. Also, if you’re fortunate you are given a chance to have a platform to raise your voice in whatever way you choose. To be able to have a platform to speak on issues I believe in, and to spread the word about foundations like Alex’s Lemonade Stand. That, to me, is worth it all. It’s priceless.
What projects are you most drawn to?
As simple as it is, I’m truly drawn to a good script. As I’m growing up, I’m becoming more and more in love with complex characters, getting to push myself in ways I didnt know were possible, and losing myself entirely in a character.
Who inspired you most growing up?
My mom and my sister. Two of the most inspiring, beautiful, and one of a kind women. They continue to inspire me every day, with the way they think, the way they love and the way they work.
Do you recall your first favorite t-shirt?
Oh my gosh, yes! It was a Rascal Flatts concert t-shirt that I got when I was around 5! It was pouring rain so my real clothes got soaked, and we had to buy something from the merchandise stand. It was such a fun moment, and something I’ll always remember.
You just published your first book. How did that come about?
While I was producing a film called Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket, I brought a dear friend and very talented writer Stefne Miller on board to help revise the script. One night after filming she asked me if I’d ever thought of writing a fiction novel. I said yes right away and ideas began pouring out of the both of us. The experience has been truly humbling, and one of a kind.
How do you see your acting and writing overlapping?
I think after years of being so fortunate to have amazing writing sent to me, the chance to bring it to life has really helped me when it comes to writing. The writer sets the stakes for the actor, so to have the sense of what excites and helps me when I read a project is crucial when it comes to me trying to create characters of my own from scratch.
What was your favorite part of starring in The Strangers: Prey at Night?
This role was a dream come true for me and the kind of place I’m at right now. It came at a time when I needed to be emotionally drained at the end of everyday filming and where I wanted to physically feel drained as well. It allowed me to completely shred any layer of comfort I may have had when it comes to acting, and it allowed me to grow every day. I love playing a woman who can be fearless, badass, vulnerable and in touch – to me, that is so powerful.
What are some of your interests beyond acting and writing?
Designing the capsule collection that I have with Nowadays for Macy’s was a wonderful journey. Learning the side of the fashion world is something I’m eager to explore more. Stepping behind the camera is a must for me. I’ve been so blessed with the mentors I’ve had on set who have guided me and taught me so much. I love the idea of me getting to give what I’ve learned and teach it to someone else. I never like being too comfortable so whenever I can step out of my comfort zone, I’m all in.
What’s next for you?
Very excited for season four of Good Witch to premiere on the Hallmark Channel. It’s my favorite season yet. Focusing on what truly matters to me, which is giving back. I’m currently looking for the next thing that inspires me.