In Scanlan with Madeleine Madden
Australian actor, Arrernte, Kalkadoon and Bundjalung woman Madeleine Madden shares her experience working on the Wheel of Time, the significance of her influential family, and heritage, and the moments she misses most about living away from home in Sydney.
How did your journey as an actor begin?
I’ve always been surrounded by creatives growing up and from a young age, I felt I knew early on what I wanted to do. Watching films has always been a form of escapism for me and I find acting incredibly cathartic. I love the process of collaboration and the connections you form with other people when talking about art, so for me, these connections and creativity are what have always drawn me in and continue to fascinate me with the process.
You are best known for starring in Amazon’s adaption of Robert Jordan series’ ‘The Wheel of Time'. Tell us about your experience working on the show, and any upcoming projects.
Working on WoT has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had to endure but has also given me some of the most wonderful experiences as well. This job has taught me about discipline, stamina, and being able to enjoy your own company. We’ve been shooting on and off for the past three years, predominantly during the pandemic which was really difficult. But I genuinely have found a family with the people I work with and when you work on a show on a scale like this, under such extreme circumstances, you develop such a strong bond with the people you’re on this journey with. It’s a dream job and playing Egwene is such an honour. I feel I’ve learned so much from her.We have just finished shooting season 2, which has been a huge season for my character and in turn, myself. But I’m really excited to see the end result and for the rest of the world to see what we’ve been working on. We’ve been green-lit for Season 3 which is amazing and I always look forward to slipping back into Egwene and seeing where she goes.I also have been working on an animated series called ARK, which I’m really excited about and has an incredible cast. Animation is a medium I’ve never done before, so I’ve been really enjoying this new experience and flexing this new “acting muscle.”
You are the great-granddaughter of Hetty Perkins, an elder, and matriarch of the Arrernte people of Central Australia, and granddaughter of Aboriginal rights activist Charles Perkins, how have your family influenced and inspired you?
My family and my heritage are such a huge part of my identity. I feel so proud of what my family has done and of their legacy. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the hard work and sacrifices all of my grandparents, great grand-parents, and so on have made. It’s what keeps me going and stokes the fire in my belly.
In 2019 you were relocated to Prague for work. What do you enjoy most when returning home to Sydney?
Everything. You really don’t know how good you have it until it’s gone. I think particularly being First Nations, you have an innate connection to country so I always yearn for home when I’m away. My family is my rock and not having their immediate support was a real adjustment for me. But now I appreciate everything I have and took for granted, so much more. I‘m really grateful for this newfound, deep appreciation of home.
Where do you seek your creative inspiration? And when do you feel most inspired?
I feel most inspired being at home and connecting with other artists. For me, I feel most inspired watching other people create or share stories. It opens my mind and gets those creative thoughts and feelings flowing.