MEET Marlow Barkley, new rising superstar and resident queen of holiday movies this year at the ripe age of 14. Her two current hits, SLUMBERLAND and SPIRITED both debuted at #1 for Netflix and Apple, respectively. SBJCT spoke with MB about trust, collaboration, evolving, and how we all deserve to be seen. You know, all in a days work. Read on below…

ERIN WALSH We are so excited to feature you and your wild breakthrough onto the scene this year! Can you walk us back a bit? You are still so young with so much under your belt. How did all this start?

MARLOW BARKLEY I got my start in musical theater when I was 5yrs old. My older sister, Tessa, had been doing it for a few years and in typical ‘little sister’ form, I wanted to be just like her. She has an incredible voice and so much poise on stage, and I…well, I was a total ham. I learned pretty quickly that performing was what I loved! I signed with my agent when I was 8 and started booking commercials. I got my first series regular role on the first show I auditioned for, Single Parents. I was lucky enough to get 2 seasons with that incredible group before the pandemic hit. I booked Slumberland in late 2020 (all over zoom auditions) and then booked Spirited (also over zoom) while I was working on Slumberland. And now, here we are!

EW What were some of your goals in the beginning with your career? Are they still the same or have they changed?

MB I think at the beginning my goals were just to have fun and work with great people! That’s still the case but now I have some actual career goals! I would love to work with my sister some day. She’s an amazing actress, a huge movie buff and is about to go off to college to study screenwriting. Maybe she can write a project for us! My dad used to always joke that I could quit acting once I booked a horror movie (his favorite genre). I always say, “what makes you think I want to quit!?” However, being in a horror movie would be so fun and different from what I’ve done, even though I’m a scary cat!

EW I would love to know more about your upcoming projects – tell me everything.

MB I am so unbelievably lucky to have 2 really fun movies out right now! Slumberland is inspired by a comic strip from the early 1900’s called “Little Nemo in Slumberland”. I play Nemo! It’s a beautiful story about facing grief and finding the courage to face the unknown, all set in a magical dream world. Oh, and Jason Momoa is my guide on the adventure!

My other movie, Spirited, is a musical retelling of “A Christmas Carol” told from the perspective of the ghosts. It stars Ryan Reynold, Will Ferrell & Octavia Spencer. I play Ryan’s niece.


EW Any lessons from acting that you found you take with you into your life?

MB So many! There is so much that goes on before an actor can step in front of the camera. I have learned that that for me to really be able to do my job, I have to trust the people around me to do their job. That means respecting their time and their responsibilities. If I don’t know my lines, I’m holding up everyone else up. If I’m not paying attention to continuity, I’m making the script supervisor or editor’s job that much harder. One big thing I learned on the set of Slumberland is that everyone’s process is different. My director, Francis Lawrence, was really helpful with that. He reminded me that while I liked to keep things light and fun in between takes (especially during the emotional scenes) other actors may need to be quiet and focused. I think that this has helped me to not only be a more generous scene partner, it also helps me in my real life to care for others people’s needs instead of assuming everyone is just like me.

it also helps me in my real life to care for others people’s needs instead of assuming everyone is just like me.


EW On set with these films, what and who did you find to be helpful in the way of mentorship and guiding you through the days of filming?

MB We filmed Slumberland during the pandemic in Toronto so everything was shut down, including the borders. Because of that I had to spend 5 months without my dad or sister! My mom and I really had to make a family out of the cast & crew. I spent a lot of time with the stunt team and my incredible double, Julianna. I had to do a lot of prep work with them and they were typically who I started my days with. They made me feel safe and encouraged through the whole shoot. And we had a LOT of fun together. Because I was away from my dad for so long I am really grateful that my costars, Jason Momoa, Chris O’Dowd & Kyle Chandler were also dads. They treated me, the only kid, like an equal on set but they always had a watchful eye out for me.

Also, on both Slumberland & Spirited I had the most amazing set teachers! Shout out to Brittany & Josie for being the best teachers, confidants, and cheerleaders! I couldn’t have done it without them!

EW How do you go about deciding what projects to take on/next direction to go? Is this a team effort with your family?

MB It’s definitely a team effort! My mom usually reads a script first (they aren’t always age appropriate!) and then we talk about the general story. If it sound interesting to me then I’ll read it. We usually talk as a family about if I’d enjoy being a part of the project, who’s attached to it, if it’s something I haven’t done before (story or character wise), and if it would be good for my career. We always talk it over with my manager and agent. They have great advice and always want to do what’s best for me. I have passed on several projects over my career because the subject matter made me uncomfortable or the timing just wasn’t right and they have always been supportive. Sometimes I feel bad saying no to something, like I’m letting someone down, but then I remember how many times I’ve been told know in this business and I don’t feel so bad!


EW Any dream scenarios that you hope to come your way?

MB I kind of feel like I’m living it right now! So I guess more of the same. Great projects with great people!  I know that not everyone one will say this (but I bet most people think it), but it would be really cool to be nominated or recognized for my work as an actor. To get the chance to publicly thank everyone who’s helped and guided me through my career would be incredible. ButI’d probably be bawling through the whole speech!




EW Do you often get “pinch yourself” moments when huge opportunities come through?

MB All the time! Everyday I’m on set, when I’m reading a cool script, during interviews, walking the red carpet at a premiere, meeting someone who’s work I love…it’s crazy! My best friend, Sara, always sends me videos or pics that she sees from my projects and I love seeing how excited she gets about it all!


EW What or who inspires you?

MB Music really inspires me. I always have ear buds in! It’s amazing how much the type of music I’m listening to can affect my mood. I listen to instrumental music when I’m doing school and sad music when I have to do an emotional scene. But my favorite playlist is my “always good” list. It’s got everything from Harry Styles to Guns N’ Roses and always gets me singing!

I’m also really lucky to be surrounded by so many inspiring friends and family members. They model hard work, generosity, compassion, and service. I’m inspired by them everyday!


EW How do you like to spend your days when you aren’t working?

MB When I’m not working I spend a lot of time with my friends. If we aren’t together in person I’m always on FaceTime with one or more of them! I still love theater so if I don’t have a project going on I’m in singing and dance classes. However, if I’ve been working a lot I usually need a couple of days doing nothing to reset. Those are perfect binge watching days. I’m currently working my way through Gilmore Girls.


EW Book we should be reading?

MB I love to read! I’m currently reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” with my mom. I absolutely love the character, Scout. She reminds me a lot of myself when I was little. She’s very curious, funny, and she says exactly what she’s thinking! My middle name is Finch so I guess I couldn’t avoid it!  My all time favorite books are “The Wild Robot” series. I read them about 4 years ago and I still love them. I recommend them to every young reader!

I’m also really lucky to be surrounded by so many inspiring friends and family members. They model hard work, generosity, compassion, and service. I’m inspired by them everyday!


EW What do you hope to improve this year?

MB I want to improve my French this year! I love my french class and really want to become fluent. I listen to a lot of songs in french and work hard on my accent. I think it’s such a beautiful language. The other day I read an entire chapter in French and understood the whole thing, so I think I’m on my way!

EW What are you most proud of thus far?

MB That’s hard to pick just one thing so I’ll just focus on what’s going on right now. Currently, I’m feeling really proud of the people around me. I recently finished helping out with the little kids from my theater group’s production of Matilda. Being on the other side of the stage gave me so much appreciation for my directors and choreographers. Watching all of those kids learn their lines and dances was so rewarding. They gave it their all and were so great! My sister also played the leading role of Miss Honey and I think it’s the best performance I’ve ever seen of hers. I was beaming off stage. She moved me to tears.


EW Marlow, What’s Your SBJCT? What really moves and motivates you?

MB It’s really important to me that the people that come into my life know that they are valuable and special. Everyone deserves to feel seen. Sometimes all that takes is an encouraging word or a listening ear.