“Sometimes I stress about the future, but I like the age that I am,” says Kiernan Shipka in her Spring 16 cover story. “Being a teen is not gonna last forever.” It’s a typically tuned-in statement from the 16-year-old actress, who proves that precocious fame and grown-up poise needn’t be mutually exclusive.
In person, Shipka is the polar opposite of (admittedly tired) stereotypes of stroppy adolescence, preferring to channel the rollercoaster realities associated with coming of age in her acting roles. Encouragingly, she says her eight years spent playing Sally Draper on Mad Men until its final season last year was key in shaping her personal feminism – something that, in the age of fever-pitch debate on sexism in the entertainment industry, should stand her in good stead. “I’ve always been a feminist and I’m lucky to live in this time,” she says, citing Sally as an important role model alongside the show’s impressive roster of female performers, writers and directors. “She became this kind, smart person who wasn’t going to do what someone told her.”
Now, Shipka plans to take her love of complex depictions of girlhood to a darker place – this spring, she takes on the role of a possessed teenager in Osgood Perkins’ February. “It’s about feeling super-alone,” she reveals. “It’s deep, dark and unlike anything I’ve played before.” In the meantime, you can catch Shipka being her usual, impossibly bright self on her various social media – the more immediate future holds eating pasta, reading Rookie magazine, gushing over Miu Miu and, in a classic teen rite-of-passage, forming a band with BFF Amandla Stenberg. “Being realistic about our resources,” says Shipka, “it would have to be in a garage-punk vein.”
Text Claire Marie Healy