Even as social distancing is keeping us apart from one another, the Lovett community is staying connected through google meets and social media and Netflix...yes, even Netflix.
Last Friday, Netflix released season three of its hit series, Ozark––the best season yet, because it features Lovett’s own Madison Thompson. A graduate of the Lovett class of 2019, Madison now attends the University of Southern California while continuing her professional acting career, which began when she was a Lovett student herself.
Madison got her start in acting on the stage. Although she never took drama classes at Lovett, she participated in several Lovett theatre productions, including lead roles in Peter Pan and Footloose.
“When you work on a musical in high school,” she says, “you definitely learn how to be part of a team. In order to get [the show] on stage, you really have to support each other.”
Madison tries to approach her time in front of the camera with the same mentality that she did in the musicals. What she appreciates so much about the Lovett theatre program is that it taught her to be conscious of not only her fellow cast members but also the crew behind the scenes.
“The entertainment industry can be so self-centered,” she says, “but I think the best acting comes out of those relationships.”
Building relationships with her co-workers is one of the best advantages of having a recurring role on Ozark, where she is able to work with the same people over the course of several months. However, this also means making a lot of sacrifices as she juggles going to school and working on opposite sides of the country.
The filming of the third season of Ozark took place in the Atlanta area last fall, right in the midst of Madison’s first semester of college. Because of this, Madison spent much of last fall flying back and forth between USC and Atlanta. Of course, balancing school and acting is not new to Madison, who has been part of long-term projects like NCIS: New Orleans and Kevin (Probably) Saves The World since high school.
In fact, Madison actually auditioned for Ozark in her senior year at Lovett. At the time, the producers of the show were looking to cast the part of Erin Pierce through a digital audition process. Girls from across the country sent in tapes of their acting, but Jason Bateman, the star and executive producer of the show, selected Madison. In fact, he later told Madison that he couldn’t have seen anyone else in the part, which Madison (understandably) considers “probably one of the best compliments I have ever received.”
Although she has had to put so much into being a part of this project, Madison is extremely grateful for the experience, especially now that it will probably be a little while until she is able to get back into the swing of things.
“The entire entertainment industry has pretty much screeched to a halt,” she says. Although she had a couple of upcoming projects planned for the next few months, everything has been postponed indefinitely due to the threat of coronavirus. In a business of collaborations between so many of cast and crew members, it simply doesn’t work to be limited to only a few people. Now, like everyone in Hollywood, Madison is just hoping that everything can resume as soon and as safely as possible.
In truth, adapting to changes like these is a huge component of being a performer. Madison is still trying to figure out what aspect of the entertainment industry she wants to pursue long-term. When I asked if she wants to continue acting for the rest of her career, she admitted: “That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot recently.”
Although she loves acting, Madison is also really interested in behind-the-scenes work, including writing and executive producing. At USC, she is a presidential honors student studying for a business degree in cinematic arts, where she has the opportunity to learn about the business aspect of entertainment along with the creative side of it. On top of that, she has recently declared a theatre minor with the hope that she will be able to combine these interests together in her future.
For now, she says, “I have a couple more years to figure it out, so I try to take it one day at a time.”
And maybe, in the midst of everything going on it in the world right now, we as a Lovett community need to take everything one day at a time. So today, try to take a few moments to escape into the story of Ozark and appreciate the amazing accomplishments of one of our own.