Being Bailee Madison

Story by Hannah L Gray | Photography by Marc Cartwright

Bailee Madison

If you glanced at Bailee Madison’s filmography you’d never assume she is only 15 years old. With more than 40 acting credits to her name, her resumé looks like it should belong to someone old enough to have a mortgage, rather than someone who only just scored her learner’s permit. Turns out, Madison's impressiveness on paper translates to real life. I recently had the chance to interview the young star and, quite frankly, she put all other teenagers I know to shame.

Our interview took place while Madison was enjoying a well-deserved vacation in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Save for a quick break on Valentine’s Day weekend, she hasn’t been home in almost 7 months; all that time away was spent working as she currently stars in the Hallmark Channel’s “Good Witch,” and has a recurring role on ABC’s “The Fosters.”) Growing up in Florida, Madison was inevitably ingrained with the famous manners and hospitality characteristic of Southern culture. “I’ve been so blessed to be able to travel to so many different places across the world, but I definitely have loved growing up with some Southern roots. Southern hospitality is so great, and I think everyone would agree,” she explains. There was not one question I asked that was not answered without Madison first saying “thank you” or some other polite sentiment. But what I appreciated most was her referral to “the best cake place ever” — and because I am a Southern girl myself, I will politely share my insider information. Located in Concourse A at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is Piece of Cake, apparently the home of the tastiest treats. So book a flight and tell them Bailee Madison sent you. 

Despite hailing from the South, Madison spends much of her time traveling and shooting on location. Her show, “Good Witch,” films in Toronto and “The Fosters” in LA. The two roles are very different: she plays a girl with superpowers in the former and a troubled youth in the latter. But Madison is up to the challenge of tackling two opposing characters, asserting, “I like not being labeled as one kind of genre. I’ve got a lot of things going on … lot’s of different emotions, and I’m very thankful that people have trusted me in trying out different things and different people and I’m really, really grateful for that.” She shares with her characters the commonality of learning to navigate through life and emotions as a teenage girl, likening “Good Witch” to an expressive outlet, as it is her “most teen-y” project to date. 

With so much time spent on set, it’s hard to imagine Madison has any time for school or friends. Since middle school, Madison has been enrolled in an online school program and works with a teacher when on set. As for her friends, FaceTime is key to keeping in touch and staying connected. Even so, I couldn’t help but wonder how she manages to stay grounded and normal amidst the chaos of her life. To that she says: “You know what I love? Even when I am getting to travel and be on set, I feel like a normal 15 year old. I really, truly do. I always have felt normal. This is the most common question I get, and I just worked with someone and they asked, ‘Well you’re not in high school, you’re not normal’ I was like, 'But I am! I really am!'”

Sure, she can claim normalcy all she wants, but I respectfully disagree. Madison is not normal —she has so much going for her that calling her life ordinary, though humble, does not even begin to accurately describe it. In addition to her acting duties, Madison is heavily involved with Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a charity “founded by a little girl named Alex Scott, who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma a day before her 1st birthday; at 4 years old she decided to hold a lemonade stand, not for herself but for other kids with cancer, to raise money to help find a cure.” With Madison’s involvement, the foundation has gone on to raise millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research. The connection she has with the cause is special and Madison puts it best, saying “I love the idea of a kid helping a kid because that was always my thing when I was little. You know, kids have a voice, kids have the power to make a difference, so it was the most perfect fit.” Nobody embodies this sentiment better than Madison, because even though it’s easy to forget, she’s still really just a kid herself.