Madison De La Garza – Demi Lovato’s younger sister and the child star who played sulky Juanita Solis on “Desperate Housewives” – will attend Chapman University in the fall of 2019. In her exclusive interview with Prowl, the actress and filmmaker explains her passion for story telling and says she feels most at home on set – so much so, she falls asleep en route to auditions. Oh yeah – and she handles questions about a costar caught up in the college admissions scandal like a pro.
What schools did you apply to and why did you choose Chapman?
I wanted to stay local, so I looked at mostly small, liberal arts schools in SoCal, like Occidental, Columbia College Hollywood (the film school), Cal Lutheran, Woodbury, places like that. I also applied to USC, UCLA, and UC San Diego. The thing I really loved about Chapman, specifically the film program, is how collaborative it is. People from different majors work together and the people in Dodge really seem like a community.
What were your GPA and test scores?
My GPA was a 3.8. I didn’t take the ACT. I took the SAT and got a 1240.
Can you replay the scene when you opened your acceptance letter?
I was in my room. I always thought I’d film myself, but I was too excited. I thought, “This is the rest of my life, I need to open this right now.” I didn’t want to call my mom in, just in case it was a no. I opened the email, clicked on the update, and I saw the picture with the balloons and students in Chapman shirts. Then I saw “Congratulations” and immediately started tearing up, so when I called out to my mom, it sounded like something was really wrong. I said, “No, no, it’s good news, it’s good news.” We met each other in the middle of the stairs and she said, “Which one is it? Please tell me.” And I said, “It’s Chapman.” We just lost it.
Why did you choose this major?
I started writing scripts at a really young age, and I tried a lot of different avenues. It hit me when I applied to college: the best way for me to make any kind of difference or social change was to be a screenwriter, so that was the avenue I had to take. I’m really passionate about mental health and I want to make films about it; that’s the best way to get rid of stereotypes. The industry is guilty for creating a lot of stereotypes, but the industry can also break them. I wrote a concept for a kid’s TV show and I pitched it to a network. It didn’t end up getting greenlit, but I felt the most comfortable I’ve ever felt in any type of audition or meeting room or anything. That’s when I knew this was the path for me.
Did you receive any help or advice from family members?
My two older sisters (Demi Lovato and Dallas Lovato) didn’t go to college, and it’s been a long time since my dad applied to school, so my parents were a little in the dark on the whole process. I was so lucky to have a close family mentor of mine who is very familiar with the whole college admissions process. I honestly don’t know if I would’ve gotten into school without her because I truly did not know where to start.
Felicity Huffman is facing charges in the college admissions scandal. You acted with her on “Desperate Housewives.” What do you think is an appropriate punishment?
What’s sad was I was blown away by the whole scandal, but part of me was not surprised that someone, somewhere allowed it to happen. You hear all the time about people making donations, which will help their kids get in; that’s not out of the ordinary. But this was a whole new level. I put so much work into my application. I didn’t get into UCLA or USC. I thought, “This sucks. I didn’t get in and they paid to get in.”
Can you talk a little bit about your latest Short Film “Subject 16”?
The whole process was unlike anything I’ve ever done. I went to some friends of mine who worked at AwesomenessTV and was like, “Hey, I really want to make a film.” They said, “Lets help you make it happen.” What was different about the “Subject 16” process was that we wrote the script, came up with the idea, and really created the film around the set that we were going to use. That’s why we were able to go into another world.
How was it different being on set in someone else’s project vs. your own project?
It’s so different, especially when I was younger. I would just practice my lines and show up when I was called; that was all I could do. With “Subject 16,” the main difference was if it fell through, it was on me. There’s a little bit more pressure, but in the best way.
You’ve grown up in the spotlight. How has being a child actress with a large social media following affected you?
Some of my favorite qualities I attribute to the industry. I’ve always been mature, I take direction pretty easily, I’m well behaved when I need to be, and I’m also very comfortable on a set. If I wasn’t working on a set, then I was visiting my sister (Demi Lovato) on her set, and so that environment is very comforting to me. Just like driving to auditions makes me want to fall asleep, because that’s how I used to fall asleep in the car as a kid.
What is the biggest “pro” growing up with that background?
Just being on set was the best feeling ever. I went to a couple red carpets, I did interviews, which were always really fun, but nothing beat being on set, in that environment, and when they yelled action. Also, when people would ask me for a picture, that was pretty cool too.
The bad days when I still had to show up. Some days, my sister and I were so tired and my mom had to fight us both because we both had to be at work. Those were some stressful days.
Best memory on set?
My favorite memory was probably the last scene I ever filmed, when I wrapped Desperate Housewives. Eva Longoria and I had gotten very, very close over the years, and I was very close with my younger sister on the show (Daniella Baltodano), and Ricardo Antonio Chavira. We all kind of knew that the end was coming and I’ll never forget, Eva said, “Thank you for being the best daughter I could have ever had.” She whispered that into my ear and that was her goodbye. That’s my favorite memory, I’ll never forget that; it will always stick out in my head as one of my favorite moments.
Do you have any friends at Chapman already?
My best friend Logan Binstock, who’s a creative producing major, and one of my childhood friends, Josie Totah, go to Chapman. Josie is also in Dodge. We wrote scripts together when we were in elementary school and then we reunited and wrote scripts in middle school, and now we’ll hopefully be working together in college. I’m so excited.
What kind of scripts do you want to write?
I love a lot of different genres and if I could write comedy I totally would do that more. I really love science fiction, first of all, because it’s the best genre to get a message across. Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone are my biggest inspirations of all time. If I could write anything close to that, I’ll feel pretty accomplished.
Are you going to rush a sorority?
Both Logan and Josie are in sororities. I don’t think I’m going to rush, but I haven’t decided yet. They’ve been talking to me about what it felt like to rush. I’m just so excited to see it with my own eyes, finally.
What aspects of college are you looking forward to?
I’m really looking forward to making so many friends. I’ve gone to a really small school; it’s K-12 and there are 70 kids in the entire school. So I’ve been a part of a very small community my whole life. Now that I’m going to college, my environment is going to be so much bigger. I’ll have a little bit more space to find out who I am and find the people that I really want to be friends with.
All photos courtesy of Madison De La Garza.