YEM Interview: Madeleine McGraw speaks about being prepared when it comes to filming and all things Secrets of Sulphur Springs

Madeleine McGraw is an actress. She is in the Disney Channel series “Secrets of Sulphur Springs”. Madeleine portrays the character of Zoey Campbell. The series returned for the second season on January 14th. YEM was able to speak to Madeleine about what she is looking forward to for the second season of  “Secrets of Sulphur Springs”, how she deals with being in the public eye, and any advice she has for someone trying to get into the industry.

Young Entertainment Mag: What was it like voicing Bonnie in Toy Story 4 alongside acting legends Tom Hanks and Tim Allen?

Madeleine McGraw: Having the honor of voicing Bonnie truly was one of the most super magical experiences for me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a part of such a beloved animated franchise??  

It was 5 years from start to finish for me. So, it’s the longest I have ever worked on a project. You can imagine the love I will always carry in my heart when it comes to Toy Story 4. Josh Cooley, who directed Toy Story 4, was such a fun director. He always felt bad when Bonnie had to cry. He would say, “Okay Maddy, time to use your superpowers.” I loved working with him so much!!

I spent all of my time recording solo, so I didn’t meet most of the cast until the premiere. I will never forget at the very end of the night, I was getting ready to leave and my brother (he voiced young Andy) and I ran into Tim Allen. We were so excited to meet Buzz Lightyear in person and when we went over to talk to him he was so gracious. He told us what a great job we did and then said isn’t this just an incredible experience. We are so blessed to be a part of something so special. You could tell Mr. Allen meant every single word that came out of his mouth. I consider myself a pretty grateful person, but to see this adult actor who has accomplished so much, still be filled with such gratitude, will stick with me forever and always be a reminder to keep gratitude at the forefront.

YEM: What have you learned about acting since starring in the hit show Secrets of Sulphur Springs?

Madeleine: It’s been very cool to be a part of a Disney show. Especially something so new for Disney. This was the first time I was part of a cast where the main characters are mostly kids. That has been a lot of fun. I didn’t necessarily learn this from acting in Sulphur Springs, but the more prepared you are, the better everybody’s day goes. When you are prepared it’s easier to take direction and try things in different ways. I always like to memorize my lines as soon as I get a script, even though the lines may change. It just makes me feel better once I know my lines.

YEM: What are you looking forward to in season two of Secrets of Sulphur Springs and how do you think your character will grow?

Madeleine: Well, I already binged Season 2 on Disney+ I couldn’t wait! But before I watched I was most looking forward to learning more about Harper and her family’s bloodline to the Tremont. It did not disappoint. Yes, I read all the scripts, but seeing it all put together made it even more special. 

I also just found out we are getting a season 3. I really hope my character and her twin brother get to do more ghost hunting and maybe even some time traveling. We shall see!

YEM: You’ve been in the public eye since you were four and featured in fashion print ads, how do you deal with all the attention?

Madeleine: I live a pretty normal life. I play club soccer and my friends and teammates know that acting is just something else I do and not who I am. I mean, it is definitely a big part of me, but it doesn’t define me. Secrets of Sulphur Springs was made during the pandemic, so my family and I don’t really go out that much. Not sure if people would recognize me.

YEM: How did you prepare for your role in the upcoming thriller The Black Phone?

Madeleine: When I first read The Black Phone, I felt an immediate connection to Gwen. Gwen is definitely a spitfire, but what I loved most about her was how much she loves her brother and would do anything to stick up for him. It was easy to relate to that part because I have 3 siblings that I am extremely close to. I have an older brother, a twin brother, and a little sister. If anyone messed with them, they would have to deal with me. LOL

YEM: Since you’ve starred in quite a few horror/thriller films and shows, are they your preferred genre, or do you want to branch out to others?

Madeleine: Oh, I love horror movies! If my parents would let me watch more of them, they would probably be my preferred genre. But actually, murder mysteries are my number one! I love ‘Knives Out’, ‘And Then There Were None’ and the original ‘Murder on the Orient express’.

YEM: What did you learn from starring alongside Bradley Cooper in American Sniper?

Madeleine: I was only 5, but there are some things I never forgot. Watching Bradley Cooper work, even being so young, I saw how much he really committed to his character. He always showed up to set walking and talking like Chris Kyle. He really never broke his character, at least not in front of me. I remember being at the premiere and hearing him talk in his normal voice for the first time… mind blown. His ability to transform really left an impression on me.

YEM: You won Best Actress at the Charleston International Film Festival for your role as Young Lucy in the Lucy in My Eyes short film; were you expecting that and what were your thoughts afterward?

Madeleine: That was such an unexpected moment. I couldn’t believe it. I think I was 6 at the time. I was so surprised. I don’t even remember what I said. But I do remember the nice gentleman who allowed me to use his hands as a step stool so I could reach the microphone. I think I was in a lot of shock afterward, but my award sits on my dresser in my room and is such a happy memory for me.

YEM: Since you and your siblings work in the same industry, do you help each other prepare for gigs?

Madeleine: Oh yes!! We help each other all the time! My sister and I sometimes read for the same role, but I always know when a role is better suited for her. I remember I got the audition for young Nellie in ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and as soon as I read it, I brought it to my mom and said, Violet needs to audition for this. She is totally 100 percent young Nellie. My mom called her manager and got her the audition and she booked it. I knew that role was perfect for her.  

YEM: What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into the business? Was there one thing you learned from your experience that you wish you knew before doing it?

Madeleine: The best advice my parents gave me that I hold onto daily, is to run my own race. Comparing yourself to other people isn’t very healthy. It’s really been the best advice for me in all areas. I am one of those people that likes to be the best at whatever I do, so I will pour my heart and soul into everything I do and work super hard. If I am playing soccer, I want to be the best at the position I play, but I can’t compare myself to another person who plays the same position because we are different and bring different things to the position. The same goes for acting. Just because someone books the role over you doesn’t mean they were necessarily better, they just brought something different to the role that made sense to the producers/director. So, when I say I like to be the best at something, I mean the best I can be at something. When the role is right for you and is meant to be yours, nothing will stand in the way. If you concentrate on working on your craft and making sure your instrument is always tuned, when it’s your turn, you will be ready. Also, no’s are just part of the business. The sooner you understand that and learn to not take it too personally, the better off you will be. I had a string of no’s, a few that hurt pretty badly, but when that YES came, it was the most magical feeling in the world.  

Watch Madeleine McGraw in “Secrets of Sulphur Springs”