This week, we were able to catch up with Maddi Thornton, who graduated from The Academy last year and just finished her freshman year at the Studio School in Los Angeles, California, where she is studying for a BFA, in Acting for Film + Television.
She has had an exciting first year at The Studio School, as she was selected to be in the fall play, The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute. She played the lead role, Evelyn, as the only freshman. In the coming semester, she will be playing Nora in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, which she is really excited about as it is one of her favorite plays. She will also have the opportunity to direct and star in a short film she recently wrote.
Outside of her college program, Maddi has also recently learned she made it to the final round as a Character Performer with Disney Cruise Lines and is waiting to hear about a job opportunity as a cast member on one of the Disney ships!
We asked Maddy about her time at The Academy at Metropolitan, this is what she had to say…
“The support of the Academy teachers and staff is absolutely incredible. They go much further in support of their students than any other studio or school that I’ve seen. They really want every individual to succeed. I learned so much at the Academy, that I was leaps ahead of many other college students, even ones who had been to performing arts high schools. I didn’t just learn a lot about myself as an artist or a person (which I did) at the Academy, I also learned about what is expected of me as a business (person) in this industry. I learned that if I want something from someone, or I want to do something, I have to make it known. I have to share my ideas and just do; it is actually really important to express my ideas and share them. I think honing the drive and passion for my art is what really sets me apart as a student and artist today, and I fully appreciate that I got that from my experience at the Academy.”
We also asked her about her favorite memory from Metropolitan.
“I think playing Alice was such a huge success for me. I had loved that character since I was a child. Playing her in the studio production was such a great honor. I couldn’t have done that without my experiences at the Academy up to my junior year. That was right around that time when I was realizing that there was no shame in having weaknesses as an artist. I knew I wasn’t the best dancer at the studio, but I also knew that wasn’t where my heart was. I love to dance, and I still dance at Studio School now, but I was not going to shine as a dancer at MSA. Acting is always where I have been most free to create and felt most like I belonged. My truest passion as an artist is for acting, so that is where I really worked to refine myself, and it made me so much more effective as a person and an artist. Playing Alice was the first time I got to broadcast to the world that I knew what I was doing and what I was supposed to be.”
“Working with Sara Hart as a director was such a joy. Anyone can see how hard she works and yet there is always room to collaborate with her. She is truly such an inspiration for me. I’m proud to say that I was trained by such a kind, creative, strong individual at MSA. Of course I also learned so very much for many years as a teacher’s assistant (TA) at the Studio for Kirsten Grorud, who is possibly my favorite human alive. She taught me so much — definitely more than she realizes. And Matt Bassett needs a shout out, because he is the father of my craft. I learned so much from him at school, both about myself and as an actor. I owe him so much. All these teachers developed me over time to enable playing Alice as a culminating performance experience. I achieved a lifelong goal of mine and grew exponentially as an actor that year. Alice was the vehicle for letting everyone see how much I’d grown that year, how much growth was to come, and how grateful I was for being set on the path I was on. All of this helped me define just what to look for in a college to continue my journey as an actor.”
We also spoke with Kathi Thornton, Maddi’s mom, about her memories and the value of the Academy.
“As a parent I would say some of my best Academy memories were chaperoning for Virginia Theater Association (VTA) each Fall in Norfolk, VA… and getting to know some of the Academy students and parents better and being able to be with them in a very intimate setting and cheer them on as they put up their One Act plays together at the VTA Theater Festival. It was so exciting to see them come together as a group, draw energy, ideas and enthusiasm from each other as they performed and participated in Master classes.”
“My most vivid memory was actually watching the Class of 2016 graduate. It was very emotional for me as a founding family at the Academy to see such a remarkable bunch of kids blossom at the Academy and achieve their goals and be ready to head off to such great colleges and professional opportunities. I knew then that we made the best high school education choice for Madison, for her future goals and aspirations as a performing artist. I was both grateful and excited for Maddi’s Senior year to begin and see her graduate as part of the Class of 2017 along with the other Founding Students. The dream became real for me then!,” Kathi says.
“We fully appreciate the incredible bonds Maddi formed with her Arts teachers…who just poured into Maddi and allowed her to grow as an artist to trust in her talents. Sara let her shine in her dream role in the Spring Production and showcased her talents in each showcase every year – which we thoroughly loved!