Welcome to the Big Time, Madison Iseman
Words | Gerry Strauss
From two seasons on the CMT hit show “Still the King” to a blockbuster big-screen role in the Dwayne Johnson-starrer “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, Madison Iseman’s beauty and acting abilities have been on full display on both the big and small screens for some time now. Born in South Carolina, it wasn’t long before the West Coast came a’calling, and a flurry of head-turning roles on hit TV shows like “Modern Family”, “Henry Danger”, and “The Real O’Neals” quickly put her on the path to even bigger and better things in the form of a regular role alongside multimedia heavyweight Billy Ray Cyrus on “Still The King”. Amazingly, this 20-year old dynamo’s feet remain firmly planted on the ground, even as her career continues to skyrocket. We chatted with her about rubbing elbows with A-listers, teaching Jack Black how to be a teenaged girl, and staying true to her values when life gets crazy.
Luca: Many people have gotten to know you from watching you on two seasons of CMT’s comedy series, “Still the King”, alongside Billy Ray Cyrus. What was it like working with such a veteran of the entertainment world.
Madison: He is one of the most interesting, amazing people I have honestly ever met in my entire life. I've learned so much from working with the guy. “Still the King” was my very first series regular. It was the very first time I've been on a show for more than three consecutive episodes. So he was just a dream to work with. He's so nice, so friendly, was willing to help out with anything, just cared so much about the work, which was a breath of fresh air because sometimes people can just get comfortable, you know? And he was always wanting to make the best product and have the best performance. Plus, he’s so funny. You wouldn't really picture Billy Ray as the funny guy, but his sense of humor is absolutely amazing. He’s such a cool dude and he's kind of a legend, you know? Like, he was a legend in my parents' time, and then for us, we had Hannah Montana, so I mean, everyone knows Billy Ray Cyrus.
Luca: On the big screen, the world has gotten to know you from your recent role in “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, a blockbuster that allowed you to share the spotlight with megastars like Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart. How impactful was that experience for you?
Madison: I still have a hard time processing it. It was just so fast and surreal, you know what I mean? It just never really hit me. It was a quick audition process, and it was such a big project, so I was like, "Oh, I'll go in for this, but I probably won't get it." And the first time I went in, my agent called me and said, "Oh my God, they loved you. They want to bring you back to the producers," and I was like, "Oh, okay, cool." So I went back, still thinking “Oh, you can't get it." I literally went in twice, and then I got it, and it just never really totally hit me.
They flew us out to Hawaii at the very beginning of production for table reads. I had never been to Hawaii before, and that alone was awesome. Then we walked into the table reads, and I sat in between Jack Black and The Rock, and it was just weird, you know? When in your life are you ever gonna sit next to Jack Black and The Rock?
Luca: Is there a particular charity or cause that you are involved with or learning about?
Madison: I try to stay involved as much as I possibly can, especially with things that are super-current, like everything that was happening with Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. One of the charities I've worked with since I was 15 is a smaller charity called Start With One – Kenya. I have actually traveled with them out to Africa. Before I even moved to LA, I was in South Carolina and I went with my church, and they're just a great organization. They install water filters into people's campsites and homes so they can have access to clean water. I’ve stayed in touch with them throughout the years and try to help out as much as I can.