What Having Tina & Amy As Your Mentors Is Like, According To 'Sisters' Star Madison Davenport
Nothing settles the nerves of being the newcomer on set like being invited to a Tina Fey and Amy Poehler-led dance party, am I right? Just ask Madison Davenport, the 18-year-old actress who co-stars with the comedy legends in the upcoming comedy Sisters. Speaking with Bustle, Davenport recounts a day on the film's set when she heard music bumping from the make-up trailer, and learned firsthand of what, it became clear, was a signature Poehler move. "All of a sudden the door opens, and Amy kinda sticks her head out, and says, 'Oh, Maddie! Come in, we're having a dance party!'" Davenport recalls. And every day after that the actress was working on Sisters, all were welcome to shake it off at an all-ages, after-lunch jam, hosted by the stars.
Not that anyone, especially Davenport, would have expected Poehler and Fey to do anything less awesome. The actress, familiar to horror fans as Kate Fuller on TV's From Dusk Till Dawn , experienced no hesitation when she was asked to read for the part of Hayley, the daughter of Fey's character Jane. "Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are my idols," she says. "They are goddesses." Although Davenport wasn't looking specifically for a comedic part, the appeal of Sisters, and of working with two of the women she most admires in the industry, was too perfect to pass up. Even if she does confess to forgetting her own name a few times in the presence of "these incredible women."
Could you blame her? Especially when you take into consideration the fact that Davenport was basically required to boss Fey and Poehler around on set. "Tina's character is this very irresponsible woman-child," she says. "So you've got me, my character, who's basically the mom of the relationship. She keeps telling her mom, 'Look. You've gotta be able to hold down a job. Sometimes you've gotta keep your mouth shut and not offend a bunch of people, because that's the way the world works.'"
The actress knows what it's like to have a lot of responsibility on her shoulders at a young age; the teen has been working steadily in film and television for just about a decade. But unlike Hayley, who becomes so exasperated with her mom that she moves out of her house, Davenport is still eagerly absorbing life and work lessons from her elders, she says — easy when your elders are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. The actress insists that Fey has got it about 10 times more together than Jane, exemplified by the fact that she was writing a book while filming (a sequel to Bossypants? We can only hope). Her work ethic, shown by how she would transition from playing wildly comic scenes to knocking out chapters in the span of a day, was "a huge inspiration" to Davenport, especially since she's an aspiring writer herself. In fact, her co-stars' multi-hyphenate job descriptions (writers-producers-directors-actors) could serve as a road map for what Davenport hopes for in her own career. "Tina and Amy really show me that that's possible," she says. "Because they're doing it!"
They also showed the actress what a good film set should feel like, she says. "It's very chill, and it has to be," Davenport says of the vibe on Sisters, which hits theaters on Dec. 18. "If they're on all the time, then they wouldn't have anything left to give to the screen." But don't fret; Poehler and Fey are just as funny off-camera, she assures us, and they set the supportive, low-pressure tone of the working environment. In fact, the entire Sisters experience was a low-key family affair, with both Fey and Poehler frequently bringing their kids with them to work and Davenport's mother trading parenting stories with Fey.
Davenport says that Fey and Poehler's approachability gave her the confidence to throw out some ad-libs when the practiced improvisers were letting loose in a scene, and although it was "scary," she says it was totally worth it when one of her jokes was well-received by her co-stars. And now, she gets to add "impressing Tina and Amy" to her already respectable resume; currently, she's celebrating the renewal of From Dusk Till Dawn and looking forward to playing a darker side of Kate in the upcoming season. She's also applying her talents to music, having recently finished a song she says she's quite proud of. It's clear that she's following the advice she received from Sisters co-star Maya Rudolph (seriously, this cast!), who told her, "Always continue your education. Even if it's not in conventional school, always be a student." And Davenport's certainly had some of the best unconventional teachers in the business.
Images: Universal (2); Wes Klain