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TV

Mystery Road's Madeleine Madden is on a mission to 'create change'

'We now live in a time when people are speaking out...'

By Stephen Downie
By her own admission, Madeleine Madden is having a "full-on" year. The talented young actress is everywhere in 2018. Currently, she's on our screens in Foxtel's lavish remake of Picnic At Hanging Rock and the ABC's outback drama Mystery Road.
Later, she'll appear in the ABC/Netflix co-production Pine Gap and Netflix's supernatural crime series Tidelands.
"It's been a really good year," the 21-year-old enthuses. "At this point, I'm really happy with what I'm doing."
Madeleine Madden is having a "full-on" year in the spotlight.
When TV WEEK chats to Madeleine, she apologises for sounding a bit croaky. She has a sore throat she puts down to working hard in the lead-up to the premiere of Picnic.
But it's nothing compared to the work she put into making the series, which also stars Game Of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer, and Aussies Lily Sullivan and Samara Weaving.
"Picnic was a tough job in many ways, but it was magical," Madeleine says. "I've learnt a lot. I've changed and grown."
Madeleine's latest series is Mystery Road. Filmed in WA's beautiful Kimberley region, the conditions proved a challenge.
"It was so hot around Kununurra, where we filmed," she explains. "We were going into the wet season, which was wonderful, but it was raining everywhere except the town."
Madeleine says filming Picnic At Hanging Rock was "magical."
In Mystery Road, Madeleine plays the fiery Crystal, daughter of detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen). It should be no surprise Aaron and Madeleine have a believable father-daughter relationship. Why? Turns out, Aaron used to babysit Madeleine when she was five!
"It's funny how art is imitating life right now," she laughs. "Aaron is a good family friend. He's practically like family."
So, those scenes in Mystery Road where Jay tries to keep Crystal in line probably have some basis in truth.
"Everything we were doing came from a natural, organic place," she says of her chemistry with Aaron. "We didn't have to rehearse much; we were on the same wavelength."
The bonus for Madeleine was that Tasma Walton, who plays her mum, Mary, starred alongside Aaron in the two Mystery Road films: 2013's Mystery Road and 2016's Goldstone.
"They had their relationship established and helped me set the tone for the dynamics between Crystal, Jay and Mary," she says.
Madeleine stars alongside Tasma Walton in Mystery Road.
Madeleine's own family is well known. She's the granddaughter of the late Indigenous activist Charles Perkins. Her mother is art curator Hetti Perkins, and her aunt is filmmaker Rachel Perkins, who directed Mystery Road.
Madeleine was just 13 when she fronted ex-PM Kevin Rudd's Generation One campaign, which targeted stereotypes about Indigenous Australians. It proved an important time for her.
"It was me developing my own political voice and having a sense of awareness," Madeleine reflects.
Last year, she also helmed a diversity campaign for skincare brand Ella Baché.
"We now live in a time when people are speaking out and using their platform to generate positive change," she says. "My goal is to create change."
Madeleine says she'll continue to be selective with her acting roles. "I'm looking for things that excite me and haven't been done before," she says. "It's really important not to be pigeonholed or typecast."

Madeleine will head to Los Angeles at the end of the year to try her luck in showbiz.
"It's an exciting new chapter," she says.
But she hasn't rushed to Tinseltown. Rather, Madeleine has focused on learning her craft at home.
"I love working with Aussies," she says.
Finding fame in Hollywood may be no picnic, but with an impressive resume behind her, Madeleine is set to shine.

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