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Gifted is such a perfect way to describe McKenna Grace. This little star is powerhouse actress with a strong and impressive body of work and a remarkably welcoming personality to match. Even at a young age, she had already appeared on numerous TV Shows and movies. Known to many recently as, Penny Kirkman, the president’s daughter in the ABC’s hit TV series, “Designated Survivor”. Her new movie, Gifted, where she stars opposite of Chris Evans, was widely appealing for its strong emotional content. The movie showed the versatility of this incredible young actress and how she depicted such an emotional role.

On the day of her cover shoot, everyone was excited and curious to meet her. While we were going over small details for the shoot with the team, McKenna Grace walked in with her mother and a big smile on her face. She walked around the room and made sure to greet everyone. Her personality brought a fun and playful feeling to the set and infected everyone with a contagious smile that nobody could not get rid of. It continued like this throughout the shoot, except the moment Michael Creagh, the photographer, start shooting, that’s when she switched over to being a true professional. To see the switch from this funny, carefree little girl, to a true professional actor, was truly impressive. You could see the respect from the crew deepen. The rest of the shoot was mixed with music, dancing, laughter and lite conversation. As we neared the end of the shoot, McKenna still had the same energy and pure happiness that she carried into the shoot.

Throughout the next few days, as we struggled to match schedules to get her interviewed, it was a bit rough, but we both wanted to make sure that interview was done. Finally, I got word that she was available and it matched my schedule, which got me even more excited. I was even more eager to interview her, because I got to finally see the movie a few days earlier and knowing McKenna’s personality, from the shoot, and watching her on the big screen, had me filled with tons of questions. I must know what goes on in her head, that makes her able to pour such raw emotions into this drama-filled film. It was truly astounding to know that such an amazing actress, still in her very early years, will be gracing movie goers with her talent to draw you in to believe the story she is telling in the film.

You are no stranger to the big screen and TV, what was your first role and how was it being on set for the first time?
McKenna Grace: My first major role was in a movie called, Goodbye World. It was the first time that I got to California. Oh gosh, I can barely remember, it was so long ago. I remember, we flew on this really cool airline and I was so excited, because I had never been anywhere outside of Texas. I don’t remember much, but I remember being really excited.

You have had many TV roles such as, Avery in CSI, Cyber and Rose on Fuller House, out of all of them, which ones were your favorite?
Mmmm…I kind of like all of my roles. Mmmm, for Movies, Gifted, because it was so special to me. For TV, mmmm. I still have to say all of them.

On Designated Survivor, you played the daughter of the most powerful man in America, the President. Was there a moment where you are like, WOW! Is this what it is like?!
Yea, because we had the giant labyrinth of tiny little sets and a bunch of rooms from the White House. I got on and I was like, Oh My Gosh! What is this? I can’t believe I am actually playing the president’s daughter!

Did you get to visit the actual White House while filming Designated Survivor?
No, I wish!

Would you run for President of the United State one day?
Yes, I want to. I want to be the first girl president, but if I am not, that’s also good because that means another girl was president. I have always dreamt of running for president, because I think I would make a pretty good president.

If you become the President of the United States, what are things you would do?
No animal cruelty. I think that is illegal, so I would find anyone that is cruel to animals and stop that. Also, no discrimination, because my great grandma would not have come to America and I wouldn’t be talking on the phone to you today.

On the show, you get to work with an unbelievable cast of actors like, Kiefer Sutherland, and Natascha McElhone, who plays the President and First Lady, also your parents. Who was the most fun person to work with on the whole set?
I really love Tanner, Kiefer and Natascha, but I really love Maggie, because we bonded over the protest and our love for animals.

Congrats, on your movie, Gifted, with Chris Evans! You played such a powerful roll… it had me glued to the seat the whole movie. Did you think that the movie was going to get so much buzz and love…is it all sinking in?
Well, I am not sure what the audience feel about the movie. For me, I was really hoping and praying, it will become a really big movie that people are going to want to go watch. I just hope that people will like the movie. To me, I think that it is a really great and special movie. I hope a lot of people go to see it.

I have personally seen it, and I think it going to be one of those movies that you have to watch over and over again. Instant classic. How does it feel to land a role so unique, portraying an intellectually gifted 7-year-old stuck in between a bitter battle between family members?
It was the best! I loved it! I love the drama, the funnies, the romance and everything that was in the script, just made a good mix to me. It was just a really appealing script and great characters.

Was it difficult tuning into your character, Mary Adler’s?
Well, it was really different. A lot of times, I play the girlish characters but this time it was different. Mary was definitely not girly. She was a really different character. She had short hair and I have always had really long hair. Because of that, I had to cut a couple of inches off my hair. She was such an emotional character, so it was great to portray that role, because I love girl power and it was so great. It was so great, because it was about a smart girl and I was her. I think they should have more movies about smart girls, because a lot of girls are smart and talented like Mary.

Since you mention that Mary was so emotional, I have to ask, how did you handle that moving scene when your character uncle, had to leave her with strangers? How did you sum up such powerful emotions? I think that part was an emotionally intense part for movie watchers.
Mmmm, I went into a room by myself. I kicked my mom out, kind of pull my knees up, sit there and thought about sad things. Mark, he is a really understanding director. He would cry with me so I am not alone, he would be there for me so that I am not alone and he would let me take as much time as I need when I need to get emotional. Which is great, but I try to take as little time as I can, because I know we are on a time crunch and I know if we don’t get it done that day, we would have to do it tomorrow, which would push everything back. Mark made it really easy on me because he was really understanding, as I said before. I would literally think of sad things and it would help, because everyone on set knew that I needed quiet and I would not talk to them that day, so that I could be prepared. It was great because everyone would be really quiet around me whenever I walk through on the set and I was emotional. Mark and the crew was really understanding.

Wow! That is incredible and impressive! So, your character was math genius, how are you with Math?
Math is actually my favorite subject!

That’s good. What upcoming projects do you have in the works that we can look forward to?
I am not shooting anything right now, but not that long ago I shot for season 3 of “Fuller House”, also the season finale of “Designated Survivor,” and really late this year or 2018, “I, Tanya” comes out, where I play a young Tanya Harding.

We know you are traveling a lot because of the movie, but when you get a chance to have some down time, what is something you love doing?
I absolutely love doing DIY. I absolutely love doing crafting. Actually, I have a balloon that I drew a face on and it started shrinking, so I took a popcorn container and some Lego wheels and made him a little vehicle, so that he can roll around. I really love making crafts out of recycle things. I would take popsicle sticks and make little house for stuff animals, or take a water bottle and make a megaphone. I just love crafting and I love watching movies with my dad. I love reading books with my dad or just alone. I love drawing and I love doing cheerleading, which actually, this year I am signing up for cheerleading again, after I finished doing this interview.

McKenna, during our shoot, I noticed your love for music and that you had a beautiful voice, do you sing as a hobby or talent?
Well, I don’t know. I just sing because it’s fun. Sometimes, if I get sad or I am upset, I can just kind of sing and listen to music and it just really calms me down and makes me happy. Music is just a wonderful and beautiful thing, that I think that a lot of people listen to when they are sad and things like that.

On set, you requested a unique play lists and one song that played was, Taylor Swift’s “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.” As the song played and we sang along, you stopped and said to us, “I don’t think anyone would want to live forever, because everyone you love will die.” How does that make you feel, being so young and understanding, that this is a natural part of life?
Well my best friend Faith, she passed away four years ago. My great grandmother died. My greatma is sick. My Nanny past away a long time, and it’s just hard to watch all of your love ones go away so fast. “The Green Mile”, I watch that a long time ago and it kind of had that message. I thought to myself, that’s true! I wouldn’t want to live forever, because you would not want to make friends, because they would all pass away around you, or would you just want to live natural and be able to pass away with your friends. That is a powerful message.

That is so true. You simply, wow us! I am so glad that that I had the opportunity to talk with you. This has been an amazing experience. We are a truly one of your fans. Thank you, again!
Thank you!


photography by | MICHAEL CREAGH
stylist | SOPHIA BONNY
makeup | CHIKA CHAN, MAKEUP PRO NEW YORK
hairstylist | BOY_OOI
retouched by | DOCTOR RAW


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Maximo Hamilton

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