Madison Harrington is pictured on the monitor while on set of an acting project.
Madison is pictured holding a clapboard while on set of her first movie Asylum.
Madison is pictured waiting on set for her turn in front of the cameras. (Photos courtesy of Jamie Harrington)
All the prairie is a stage
The lights shining bright on stage, the camera recording the next big hit, and the action of all the characters are ideas that seem foreign to most people here in Evangeline Parish, but nine-year-old Madison Harrington from Pine Prairie is getting a first-hand account of the acting business as she is on her way to becoming a Hollywood director.
Harrington’s mother Jamie described it as her daughter being on a journey. She said, “It’s a journey for sure because we get to learn things about films that we never knew before, and she gets a taste of what it’s like to be on a $54.6 million set.”
For Madison, her journey in acting started when she was six-years-old. At that time, she played a lamb in a theater production of Peter Pan in Alexandria. “I auditioned for it, and, whenever I auditioned for it, I had to sing,” she said. “It was really fun, and I had a blast doing it.”
Once the acting bug bit while doing theater, Madison wanted to do more acting and, then, appeared as one of the children in a theater production of The Old Woman in the Shoe.
Time went on, and Madison saw how much more she wanted to act. “I started doing more acting, and my dad Dustin found me an acting coach in Baton Rouge at the Debby Gaudet Screen Acting Studio,” she said. “I love doing it. It’s a blast and is a great experience.”
The acting school paid off quickly as Madison got her first lead role in a theater production of Christmas Spectacular. “I was one of the main characters, and I had this cute little dress,” she stated. “All of the other people were presents.”
She described her first lead role as being frightening at first. “Whenever you first get the news that you’re going to be the lead, it’s scary because you think everybody is going to stare at you and that you won’t know what to say,” Madison said. “But, it’s actually really good news because, once you start learning it and go on set, you have a blast.”
After starting out in theater, Madison transitioned into another form of media by doing motion pictures. Her first movie was a Tulane thesis in New Orleans called Asylum. She said, “That was really fun, and I got to have a fake dad.”
Then, she appeared in F5 Teraphobia that premiered at the Grand Theater in Hattiesburg, Miss. “It was a really scary horror movie, so I didn’t get to watch it,” said Madison.
Her mother added, “She didn’t get to see it because it’s a real scary film, but her part wasn’t scary. She played a younger version of one of the characters. She had a couple of lines in her scene, and it was her first feature film.”
Madison’s next movie role came in Cover that was written and directed by a Youtube star who also makes short films. “I was one of the main characters,” she said. “It was about this creature that tried to attack me.”
That opportunity provided Madison with her first trip to Hollywood. “We went to this fancy hotel, and it was a blast,” she expressed. “We shopped everywhere and went to the wax museum.”
She continued, “It was a beautiful city, and I liked how we could see all the lights wherever we walked. That was really pretty, and we finally got to see the Hollywood Sign. I was very much happy to see that.”
Other roles that Madison had in front of the camera came while being a photo double for a lead actress in a couple of series. “Whenever the little girl who was the lead actress had to go to class and do school work on set, Madison would go and take her place,” explained Jamie.
One of the series is called The First which is about a NASA mission to Mars that will be airing soon on Hulu. That series allowed Madison to work with an Academy Award winning actor.
“I got to work with Sean Penn on set,” Madison said. “We did a whole scene together. He is really nice and smells like peppermints.”
“Whenever we got there, she was on set, and, all of a sudden, Sean Penn came bend down and talked to her,” Jamie said. “I was thinking that this was just awesome.”
Another series that Madison worked on is a Web series that will be streaming on a new network that is trying to be launched in San Francisco.
While wanting to stick with movies, Madison one day wants to continue her journey by starting to direct. “I have a feeling if I keep on doing acting then it will build up for me to be a major director,” she said. “I want to go to a film school all the way in New York that is one of the best ones.”
Before taking that next step in her acting journey, Madison will first make the journey to the fifth grade at Bayou Chicot Elementary. While still a student at Pine Prairie, she was the youngest member of the Talented and Gifted theater program.
Throughout Madison’s journey, there are some of the same challenges that come with her various acting roles. “Auditions are kind of challenging,” she said. “The people give you this script to practice, and then you have to go tell them your lines from the script. You also compete against other people, and sometimes I go against my friends.”
Some of the challenges depend on the kind of script. “It depends if it’s a paragraph or an essay,” Madison explained. “But, most of the time, it’s just a normal script. I like the hard scripts and essays because they are really challenging.”
Despite all of the challenges that are involved, the rewarding part of being an actress is the amount of fun that is also involved. Madison concluded, “It’s fun to act with other people, it’s fun to make new friends, and it’s fun to see yourself on the big screen. That is amazing to watch.”