Madeleine Madden on the red carpet for the premiere of The Wheel of Time in London. Courtesy of Jan Thijs/Amazon Prime Video, 2021.
Watch out world, Madeleine Madden - budding actress and granddaughter of the legendary Indigenous Australian activist Charles Perkins - is next in line to join Hollywood’s ranks alongside the legendary Australian actresses Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Margot Robbie and Naomi Watts.
Not only has Madden been in a few hit Australian TV series, a Hollywood blockbuster and Amazon Prime's massive production Wheel of Time, but she is an outstanding Indigenous Australian role model using her celebrity to voice the political and social concerns of her peoples and to represent Aboriginal Australians in a positive, empowering light (Australian Children’s Television Foundation, 2022).
Being born into a family known for their creativity and activism has a profound impact and influence on not only Madden’s career, but her daily life. Madden’s grandfather Charles Perkins was many things; he was a lifelong civil rights activist, scholar, the first Aboriginal to graduate from university and the first Indigenous man to head a Government Department. Most of all, Perkins was known for his instigation and organisation of the 1965 Freedom Ride and his key role in advocating the ‘yes’ vote in the 1967 Referendum (University of Sydney, 2022). Following down the family line is Madden’s mother, Hetti Perkins, art curator and writer, and her aunt Rachel Perkins, an award-winning director, screenwriter and founder of Blackfella Films (The Guardian, 2022).
Madden told W Magazine (2019) how her grandfather’s lifelong devotion to fighting for equality has lived on in her family, and how it has influenced her to become a voice for her generation:
“We’ve always been encouraged to talk about political issues. We’ve been taught to look outside of our own lives. I’ve always had that fire in my belly. If I have a platform, I want to use it for positive change.”
At the young age of thirteen, Madden began using her voice and became the first teenager to address the entire country on prime-time national television in 2010. As part of a project by the non-profit Generation One, she pleaded in her speech for change to end the education and employment disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (ABC News, 2010).
Madeleine Madden: The Budding Actress
Madden’s familiar face would appear again a couple years later in the critically praised drama series Redfern Now (2012-2013), which followed the troubled lives of Aboriginal families living in the Sydney suburb of Redfern (The Guardian, 2022). Next, she went on to star in Australia’s first Indigenous-led teen drama Ready for This (2015), which took out Most Outstanding Children’s Program at the 2016 Logies. The show challenged viewers not to see it as a ‘diversity’ stint, but to see it as a show about everyday Aussie kids, thrown together in a big city trying to pursue their dreams, whilst dealing with the trials and tribulations of growing up (ACTF, 2022).
Madeleine Madden (right) and Aaron McGrath (left) from ‘Ready For This’ (2015) win the Most Outstanding Children's Program Logie award in 2016. Courtesy of SBS, 2016.
"I just want to say that there needs to be more shows like this in Australia so young Indigenous children can feel that their voices are being heard. So they feel like they can be represented in mainstream television and that our stories are being told,” Madden said as she accepted the Logie.The budding actress’ career really skyrocketed from here as she scored a lead role in the Australian drama mystery short series Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018) - an adaptation of the Aussie classic 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay. In an interview with hosts from the Australian breakfast television show Studio 10, Madden explained how she really enjoyed playing as Marion Quade, the "daughter of an Indigenous woman and non-Indigenous judge," because it allowed her to show the audience the difficult, downtrodden experience an Indigenous woman would have faced in the 1900s in a white-dominated world:
“...she [Marion] gets sent to Appleyard College in a way to be hidden away from society. Her experience is very unique compared to the other girls with the discrimination she faces... she knows that she’s not going to have the security and stability that the other girls are going to have being married off. So, she really prides herself on her independence and intellect,” she said.
Marion Quade (Madeleine Madden), Miranda Reid (Lily Sullivan), and Irma Leopold (Samara Weaving) pictured left to right in remake of Picnic at Hanging Rock. Courtesy of Lancashire Post, 2018.
From this point onwards in the budding actress' career, you can really see how her family’s values and beliefs have influenced her gravitation towards roles that portray strong, forward-thinking female characters with accurate and empowering portrayals of First Nations identities (W Magazine, 2019).
Stay tuned to read about how Madeleine Madden is making it big in Hollywood!