Mackinlee Waddell is a young actress who got her start speaking at charity events for the Children’s Miracle Network and Children’s Medical Center in Dallas when she was only 8. Her parents recognized her potential and enrolled her in acting classes at 13. Since then she’s been cast for roles in things like the 2011 movie Searching for Sonny, and the popular 2012 television show ‘GCB’. Fans of ‘GCB’ can visit www.savegcb.com and should sign the petition to save the show!
Is it hard to balance acting and school?
“Yes, certainly. Last year from August to November I was filming ‘GCB’ so I couldn’t actually go to my high school. Actually the day that I started school is the day that ‘GCB’ started filming, so my friends were all going back and I was going to start my first day on set. It’s been really hard trying to balance everything because I have to finish my online courses, and then acting and also trying to balance friends and that kind of thing. So it’s definitely really hard for me, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of it now.”
Is it weird watching yourself on TV?
“Yes, it’s really weird. I used to have a few friends over when episodes would air, and we would all laugh because they can’t take me seriously. So it’s fun for me to watch it with family and friends. But it was definitely really weird, because it was like, ‘Ahh, what am I doing?!’ But it was good to see all the episodes because it brought back great memories.”
What’s your favorite role that you’ve had?
“Well I got to do a movie called Den of Darkness, and I got to play a little girl who has Stockholm Syndrome and that was really fun for me because I really like roles that challenge me. That was definitely fun to get to do and that was probably my favorite out of all of the things that I’ve done so far.”
Can you tell us more about your role in Den of Darkness?
“Den of Darkness is kind of a thriller. It’s about a woman who’s blind, and she has her husband who ends up taking her to a new house that he has. Overall through the movie there’s something spooky going on in the house and you don’t really find out who it is, until the end and you end up finding out that it was my character. And I’m actually living in the basement. He’s been keeping me there for a while. There’s also crazy little twists that go on and definitely a surprising ending that you’ll get to see. It was definitely a fun movie to get to do. I had a blast getting to work on it, and the cast was great. It was a really small cast, there were only about four of us so it was good to get to do. It was amazing. I think everyone is gonna really like it, whoever gets to see it.”
What do you like to do when you’re not acting?
“Well, I got my car in February, so I like hanging out with my friends and driving. I like playing video games, I play Call of Duty sometimes with some of my guy friends. And we actually have five dogs, so playing with them and being a normal teen.”
Do you have any favorite bands?
“Okay, yes. I like Neon Trees, Ed Sheeran is definitely one of my new favorite artists. He is amazing. He’s from Britain, I believe. I’m waiting for him to release his tour date in Texas so I can go because I’m dying to see him live. He’s amazing! I also like Maroon 5 and Young the Giant, and the Strokes.”
How do you feel your surgery as a child has affected your life so far?
“I think it’s definitely affected my career. I think if I didn’t have heart surgery that I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s definitely molded me into who I am. I definitely appreciate life in general, and think you need to go out and do what you love because tomorrow you might not be here. It’s taught me a lot about appreciating what you have and it’s got me into doing what I love which is acting. It was a stepping stone to where I am now. It’s definitely been a huge part of the journey.”
Do you have any actors that you really admire?
“There’s a few. I love Meryl Streep of course, but Emma Stone and Kristen Wiig are probably my biggest inspiration. I absolutely love Kristen Wiig. She just left ‘Saturday Night Live’ and I’m so sad, but I’m also happy she’s doing movies because maybe I’ll have a chance to do something with her. She is so funny and so is Emma and they’re definitely their own people and they have their own type of comedy and I absolutely love them. And Steve Carell, of course, is brilliant. Those are probably my favorite.”
Were you really nervous when you first started acting?
“Definitely. It was really scary. Especially going from Texas and going out to LA and starting to audition and you already know what the competition’s like at first, but you go out and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, look at all these actors, they’ve probably like, trained for this their whole life’, and some do, but they’re probably like, grown in a lab and they’re just amazing. But then once you get there and you actually go to an audition, you realize, ‘Oh, they’re just people, too, and they’re just trying to do what I want to do, also’. You do have a shot once you’re there, if you have the skills and you can do it. I think that it’s possible for anyone to do it, I believe. It’s just about doing what you love, and if you love it, then you shouldn’t be nervous. You get more comfortable after every audition and now I don’t even get nervous anymore. I just go to audition and I get excited. Sometimes I can get so excited that I forget about the ‘work’ part, because it is work. I go in there and think, ‘Just go in there and make a stand’. Every time I go in that’s my goal, to not try and book the part but to make a stand. And if I end up booking the part then that’s just part of it.”
Is there a particular show or movie that you’ve always wanted to play a part on?
“‘American Horror Story’. I love that show, I love Ryan Murphy, I—oh my gosh, that’s my favorite show! That or ‘Saturday Night Live’. I love ‘Saturday Night Live’ and I love comedy, so it’d be one of those two. Probably a tie.”
If you weren’t an actress, what do you think you’d like to do?
“I think I would be a doctor. I’m really interested in cardiology, because that’s what I wanted to be before I got into acting. I want to help kids like me who went through what I went through, and I think it’s just a really interesting field and I like helping people. So that’s probably what I would go do.”
Are you interested in other parts of the acting industry, like behind-the-scenes work?
“I think that as I grow as an actress and establish a name for myself I definitely want to go behind the scenes and produce and direct and even write, I think it would be amazing to get to do. I’m really interested in all aspects of acting and being in the business.”
What do you think about the campaigns to get ‘GCB’ back on the air?
“It’s awesome! I’ve never seen something like this, I mean this has been such a crazy response, I’m so grateful for everyone who has been a part of it and signed a petition. It’s been amazing. I know I’m so grateful, I know the whole cast is so grateful for everything everyone’s trying to do. All we can do is pray. That’s definitely what I’m doing, and I know Kristin and I’m sure Jennifer and Mary and everyone just wants this show to get back on. But right now all we can do is wait.”
Do you think ‘GCB’ has a chance of returning for a second season?
“Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, you can never really know what the network’s thinking, but if it does then I’m so happy for it. But if it doesn’t, then there are going to be other shows that I’m sure Kristin will be on and people like that. There’s just always something around the corner. It’s just about waiting.”
If the show did get renewed, what would you like to see in your character’s future?
“Well, I think McKinney is going to start becoming like her mom. Me and Alix, who played Alexandra, Miriam and Mark’s daughter, were talking about what our characters would be doing and we thought it would be funny if they ended up singing in church and were really awful. We’re always thinking about what our characters could be doing and I just think my character would become more like her mom. Hopefully, a love interest would be introduced. I think that would be fun for McKinney. But you never know. I think it’d be funny for Alex and McKinney just to do stuff in church and sing a few songs-pop songs!”