Madalen Mills is certainly proving herself one to watch. This weekend she has two movie premieres to celebrate. The Tiger Rising is a roaring hit in theaters and Summering will debut at the Sundance Film Festival this evening.
The Tiger Rising book was written by Kate DiCamillo and follows 12-year-old Rob Horton (Christian Convery) who discovers a caged tiger in the woods near his home. His imagination runs wild and life begins to change in the most unexpected ways. With the help of a wise and mysterious maid, Willie May (Queen Latifah) and the stubborn new girl in school (Madalen Mills), he navigates through childhood memories, heartache, and wondrous adventures in this heartwarming adaptation
Summering follows four best friends on the brink of starting middle school, realizing their lives are about to change forever. So on the last weekend of summer, they set out to make the most of it.
Check out my interview with Madalen!
How excited are you for The Tiger Rising’s premiere?
Madalen: I’m so excited. And then, of course, I have another film coming up too, Summering, which premieres at Sundance this weekend. So, a lot of exciting things are happening!
Are you doing anything to celebrate?
Madalen: I am going to the movies tomorrow to see The Tiger Rising and just celebrating with my family.
What can you tell me about Summering?
Madalen: Summering is about a group of four girls who go on this adventure during their last weekend before they go to middle school. And they find something very interesting. Of course, you’ll have to wait until you see the movie to find out. The plot follows their journey from little girls to finally starting to grow up.
Who do you play?
Madalen: I play Dina. She’s a bookworm. She’s smart and energetic and has a big personality. She’s a really cool character and I really like her.
How does she compare to Sistine from The Tiger Rising?
Madalen: Sistine is a bit of a bully and has a lot of attitude but I think that definitely stems from the hurt and pain that she’s experienced in her past and that’s kind of just how she is dealing with her emotions, through bullying and frustration and anger. So, she’s very different from Dina, who is just kind of a normal girl. Like I said, she’s a reader, she’s smart as well as cool. They’re pretty different.
Which character do you think you’re more like?
Madalen: I would definitely say Dina just because I’m also a big reader. I love to read. I think our personalities are pretty similar. We’re around the same age. Sistine is a little younger. I feel like my personality is completely different from Sistine’s.
You got your start with acting through theater and Broadway, what was it like transitioning from the stage to the screen?
Madalen: I got through that learning curve, I guess you could say, with my first film, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey. It was definitely different because like for theater, they would always tell me, ‘you have to play to the back of the house. Everyone has to see what you’re thinking and what’s on your face and your motion.’ It’s just so big in theater. It’s dramatic. But, on the screen, the camera’s right there, we can see everything. So, I definitely have to learn how to be a little less dramatic, but still portray those emotions and all the things that need to be there, of course, to be a great actress. But yeah, it’s definitely a transition. But hopefully, I feel like I’m learning things and getting better at it as I grow and do more projects and more experience.
What was it like working with Queen Latifah for The Tiger Rising?
Madalen: It was awesome. I mean, it was a dream come true. I really admire her. She’s someone I definitely look up to, someone who paved the way for me to have the opportunities that I have in this industry. She is so down to earth and a nice person. It was so great meeting her and working with her. And she has this like swagger, when she walks on set or into a room where you just have to focus on her, pay attention to her and you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, it’s really Queen Latifah!’ That’s kind of how I felt the entire time. I was just in awe, you know, it was great. The entire thing was really, really great.
You’ve gotten the opportunity to work with some incredible women like Queen and Lyn Sisson-Talbert, What have you learned from working with all of these incredible women?
Madalen: I’ve definitely been very fortunate in that aspect. What I’ve learned from women like Miss Lyn and Miss Queen Latifah and Phylicia Rashad, is that I really see how much hard work and dedication they put into their craft and how much time is spent on that and how much work they put into it. Just like the effort and determination and hard work that it takes to get to where they are in this industry and just in life in general. I really admire all of them and all of the wonderful women in Hollywood that are just doing their thing and breaking down barriers. I’m just so happy that I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity to meet some of them and work with some of them and learn from them because I’m definitely learning a lot, for sure.
So, are you working on anything right now?
Madalen: Right now I’m just kind of chilling and going to school. You know, doing my first job as a child and focusing on academics. Focusing on my education, that’s first and foremost, as my mom always says. And I’m just kind of enjoying Summering, like I said, it’s premiering at Sundance, so I’m really excited for that and I’m just enjoying all the wonderful things and celebrating all the hard work that I’ve done up until this point.
Well, you definitely deserve to celebrate that. Is there anything else you’d like to add about The Tiger Rising or Summering?
Madalen: I think for The Tiger Rising, I want to really emphasize that there are a lot of heavy messages in the movie. But I feel like they really are portraying the real world and what kids that age go through, which is my age, 13 and in middle school. These characters, Rob and Sistine and even Willie May and Rob’s dad, are symbolic of actual people who go through these things and may not know how to deal with their emotions in the healthiest and best way for them while also not hurting other people at the same time. I think that’s one of the messages that really stuck with me: learning how to deal with your emotions and also the importance of friendship and all those good things.