INTERVIEW ERIN WALSH
PHOTO CHRISTIAN HOGSTEDT
MEET Madeline Brewer, star of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale. We spoke about process, serendipity, finding ourselves in quarantine, being in the NOW, and you know, just how we are all connected. Read on below…
Erin Walsh Hello Maddie! Thank you so much for joining our little collective here at SBJCT Journal. I would love to start at the beginning- can you tell us a bit about growing up and what finally led you to get into acting?
Madeline Brewer I grew up always loving to perform and create. My parents put me in my first play when I was 7, and I quickly caught the bug. I was always following in my dad’s footsteps, and my dad had done some acting and directing so I wanted to try it out and it stuck.
EW What do you love most about performing?
MB It’s like meditation. It’s a loss of the self and ego and the chatter of the mind. It feels peaceful.
EW What do you like the least about it?
MB When the ego does come in and makes performing about being the best or being impressive. It sucks the joy and freedom from it. I know, a lot of “ego” talk. I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle if it wasn’t already obvious haha.
JACKET AND BRA Dolce & Gabbana PANTS Viva Aviva
EW Tell me about getting trained in Musical theater- I don’t know how many of our readers know the 360 nature of your performing skills. Tell us about what it’s like to do conservatory training and how it informs you as a working actor today.
MB I’ve loved musical theater my whole life. I was in productions every summer and in voice lessons since I was 9. So when college came around, I knew there was really only one route. And I also knew there was no place but New York City. I moved when I was 18 to go to AMDA and was thrust into living on my own and singing and acting and dancing 7 days a week. It was a dream. It was hard work of course as well, but I loved every minute.
EW In terms of career trajectory, it seems like you pretty much hit the ground running after your stint at AMDA. What was it like to immediately be a part of something so big, at such a young age?
MB Even thinking on it now, I can’t believe I got that job. I can’t believe how young and green and scared I was. I can’t believe Jen Euston and Jenji Kohan saw me shaking like a leaf in my audition and thought, “There’s Tricia!” It was wholly transformational of course in terms of my career trajectory but also within myself. Tricia changed me. I am a more deeply feeling, compassionate person because of my time spent with that character. I owe to her so much of who I am. I know that sounds really strange haha considering I am her and she is me, but she feels like a great friend that I loved and lost and mourned and look back on with so much love and gratitude.
DRESS Carolina Herrera
EW Who was really guiding you in terms of building your career in the beginning? Any mentors who you found to be particularly helpful along the way?
MB My friend Gary Lennon was a writer and EP on season 1 of OITNB. I don’t know what possessed him, but he reached out to a few managers he knew here in LA and told me it would be good for me to have representation on both coasts. I met and spoke with Glenn for maybe an hour and we decided to work together. It’s been almost 8 years! It still feels like kismet.
EW Do you have a favorite medium you love, in terms of film, television, or theater? And is there much difference in terms of building a character or a performance across these mediums?
MB I do love them all so much, but I’ve been missing theater a lot. Especially now that I can’t go see the magic in person. Building a performance in theater is different in that you have to keep it fresh for the length of a run and several times a week and sometimes twice a day. But accessing that place is part of the same process as in TV and film I think. Lots of research and soul searching.
EW Tell me about your latest project, “The Ultimate Playlist of Noise”. How did it come about? Tell us about your character, Wendy.
MB Wendy is a little indie rock girl who meets Marcus and heads to NYC. She’s just left a bad relationship and takes the first minivan out of town. She ends up actually sharing a nice bond with this kid, and they have a really special friendship although it’s not all as it seems…
SUIT Giambattista Valli RINGS Melissa Kaye BATHING SUIT Adriana Degreas
EW What do you hope people take from the film?
MB Love and connection is what makes life so rich and so beautiful.
EW I want to talk a bit about quarantine and dealing with isolation in these times. We spoke a bit about your filming process for the latest season of THT, in which you had to spend a great deal of time alone to follow Covid safety protocols. Can you walk us through that experience and what it was like for you?
MB I was only going to work and sitting at home. That much time alone was daunting at first but ended up being deeply gratifying. I met myself somewhere around month 2 of isolation.
That much time alone was daunting at first but ended up being deeply gratifying.
DRESS Balmain Tights Wolford
EW How do you stay sane these days, in these fundamentally challenging and strange times?
MB I take a hot bath every night to wash the day off, and I cut myself off from reading too much news if I know i can’t handle it.
EW What helps center you?
MB My dog, Ruki. Exercise. Reading.
EW Do you have a physical or mental practice you return to that you find to be helpful?
MB Always back to the breath. I also love exercising however I can, but mostly on my peloton.
DRESS Ralph and Russo
SWEATSHIRT Frankie’s Bikinis BATHING SUIT Solid and Striped SHOES Pierre Hardy SOCKS The Elder Statesman BAG Chloe
EW What makes you hopeful for the future?
MB Gen Z and tiktok
EW How do you use your platform to support causes or charities that you believe in? Any that you would like to bring attention to here?
MB GLITS nyc and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute
EW Can you please get cast as Madonna? The resemblance in startling and with your VOICE…
MB haha Thank you! I’ve been told all my life that I resemble Madonna; I think it’s the eyes and the high cheekbones. So yes I’m working on making that happen (hi Madonna, let’s chat).
EW What should we be reading?
MB My top 3 favorite books in 2020 (still starting my 2021 list)
- Luster- Raven Lelani
- The Water Dancer- Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Girls-Emma Cline
DRESS Carolina Herrera
considering I am her and she is me, but she feels like a great friend
EW What are you listening to these days?
MB I’ve been listening to a lot of Arlissa; CTRL by SZA is always in the mix.
EW Film we should be watching?
MB Derek Delgaudios In and Of Itself on Hulu
EW Is there anything in the way of a mantra that you like to return to?
MB “I am safe. I am love.”
EW Do you have anything in the way of 5 or 10 year plans?
MB Oh gosh I have PLENTY, but I keep it all in my heart and my brain, but Madonna is on that list for sure haha
EW What do you hope your legacy will be?
MB Kindess. Compassion.
EW Maddie, what’s your SBJCT? What really moves and motivates you?
MB I love connection, I love conversation and communication. I love stories and experiences. I love our complexities, nuances, mistakes, and triumphs. It’s just people, really.
JACKET AND BRA Dolce & Gabbana