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SA Native Madison Davenport Talks About Playing Tina Fey’s Daughter in Sisters 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY WES KLAIN
  • Photo by Wes Klain
It’s a bit surreal when you find yourself dancing to gangster rap on the set of your new movie with your co-stars who happen to be comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. But that’s exactly what actress Madison Davenport experienced in between scenes of her new film Sisters. The comedy stars Fey and Poehler as sisters who throw a massive house party in their childhood home before it is sold against their wishes. Davenport, who is originally from San Antonio and moved with her family to California at the age of eight, stars as Haley, the teenage daughter of Fey’s character.

During an interview with the Current, 19-year-old Davenport talked about her time in San Antonio, how quick the audition process was for her new film and explained why everyone needs to skip J.J. Abrams’ new movie this weekend and go see Sisters instead.

Sisters opens at theaters nationwide on Friday, Dec. 18.

How long did you live in San Antonio?

I was born there and lived there until I was 8. I went to San Antonio Christian School [on the city’s North Central side].

Did you move out to LA to pursue acting?

Well, I started musical theater when I was 4 years old. My mom tried to put me in gymnastics and ballet, but none of it stuck because I was just too darn dramatic. So one of my mom’s friends said I should try musical theater to try and channel that energy. I fell in love with it. We went to California and I started booking commercials and voice over work. Then my dad got a job in California. All the doors opened and we decided to walk through them.

So, where did you perform musical theater in San Antonio?

Actually, no, it was in New Braunfels at the Brauntex Performing Arts Theater. We did Annie, The Music Man, and a traveling show of The Wizard of Oz. I played one of the munchkins.

I just bought my 4-year-old daughter The Wizard of Oz on Blu-ray last week, so we’re watching it on a loop right now.

That’s great that you’re starting her off so young. My grandmother is the one who would show me movies like Carousel and Oklahoma! I loved [actress] Shirley Jones. I got a chance to work with her when I was younger. I told her I had been watching her for years. She was so happy that I knew who she was at such a young age.

Would you like to get back to acting on stage at some point?

I’d love to. I just spend the summer studying Shakespeare at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. It was a two-month Shakespeare program.

What was the audition process like for Sisters? How did you land the role?

It was all very quick. I found out on a Monday I would be auditioning for the movie and they would need me to fly out by Friday if I got the part. They had me do a Skype audition with the director, Jason Moore. A few hours later, I found out that I booked it. I was in New York by Friday to start shooting.

What was going on in your head when you found out you’d be working with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler?

I really didn’t have a lot of time to process that I was going to be playing Tina Fey’s daughter. I got on set and they asked me, “Do you want to meet your mom?” I said, “Of course!” I got to meet these two ladies who I really do idolize. I look up to them. They’re smart and they have families and incredible careers and they’re funny!

What is Tina Fey like as a mom?

She’s really cool. Her daughters would always visit the set. They are just like her, very smart and well spoken. Amy has two sons who are the cutest kids you’ve ever seen. They should be in Gap ads.

What was your time like on set between takes?

You would think because it’s a comedy that people would always be laughing, but it’s exhausting being funny. In between takes it was all very chill on set. Amy would actually run back into her room and be typing away on her computer because she was writing her book Yes Please. After lunch, they would have after-lunch dance parties in the makeup trailer.

So, you got to dance with Amy and Tina during these parties?

I did! I was literally dancing with the stars.

What kind of music are we talking about here?

It varied every day. One day I walked in and it was straight-up gangster rap, which was very surprising to me. I didn’t expect that.

There is an underlying message about the importance of family in Sisters. Is that something that resonated with you or do you think of this movie as more of just a silly comedy?

I have a very close relationship with my family. My brother and I get along wonderfully. There is a lot of respect in my family. My mom is so supportive of my career. She is passionate when we’re passionate. My brother loves to run track. She is the driving force for all of us doing what we love to do. I can definitely connect to the underlying theme of family being the most important thing in this movie.

Who would you like to work with in the future?

I would love to work with Jennifer Lawrence. I’d like to work with Meryl Streep, obviously, because she can do no wrong. I’d like to work with James Cameron as a director. Oh, there are so many more. Steven Spielberg. I love him. And J.J. Abrams would be really cool because I’ve never done a hardcore action movie. Basically everyone! I would love to work with everyone!

Speaking of J.J. Abrams, Sisters is going up against his new film at the box office. I’m not quite sure what his little movie is called, but why should people go see Sisters instead of his new film?

Oh, that little movie that’s opening on the same day as Sisters? I can’t remember the name of it either. I will say that we all know that this weekend is going to be madness for that other little movie that’s coming out, so why not just go see Sisters? It’s got a little bit of everything you love. It’s got sister love and family and it’s hilarious and it’s got Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. If that doesn’t make you want to go then you’ve got to be crazy!

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