Actress & Music Star Madisyn Shipman On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry
… Always try to project positivity, because what you put out into the universe is what you’re going to get in return. So I try to always treat everyone that I come into contact with in a positive and uplifting way, because at the end of the day, that’s what I want back in return. I’m putting it out there, and I’m going to get it back.
I had the pleasure to talk to Madisyn Shipman. Madisyn, born in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, is an accomplished American actress, singer, and dancer. Known prominently for her portrayal of Kenzie Bell in Nickelodeon’s acclaimed sitcom “Game Shakers,” her acting career began early on. At the mere age of five, she collaborated with a talent agency which set her on the path to achieve roles in iconic shows such as “Saturday Night Live” and the beloved “Sesame Street”. Madisyn’s talents also secured her a position on the Broadway stage in the production “Enron” in 2010.
Shipman’s enthusiasm isn’t just confined to acting. She embarked on her musical journey in 2021 and has since introduced an array of singles, including notable tracks like “Bitch Boy,” “I Like Your Dad,” and “DGAF”. In 2022, her musical prowess was further showcased with the release of her debut album “Metanoia.”
Beyond her professional accomplishments, Madisyn has a deep-rooted passion for music, having written songs and played the guitar since she was eight. Her personal life reveals a close-knit family, being the eldest among four children to parents Jen and Tracey Shipman.
The versatility in Madisyn’s career, transitioning from acting to singing, is a testament to her multifaceted talents. With a promising trajectory ahead, she continues to be a notable figure in both the acting and music industries.
Yitzi: Madisyn, it’s a delight to meet you. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn about your origin story. Can you share the story of your childhood and how you grew up?
Madisyn: It’s nice to meet you too. I’m really happy to be here and happy to chat with you. So I’m originally from a tiny town in North Carolina called Kings Mountain. I lived there until I was about seven years old.
And mind you, this town is like the middle of nowhere. The nearest small town is like 30 minutes away. We had only one stoplight in our whole town. So people don’t really leave. You grow up there, you stay there your whole life. And that’s just what life is. But I always knew from a young age that I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. And I really attribute a lot of that to my grandmother.
My grandmother has always been a huge driving force in the person I am today. I’m grateful for everything she’s done for me. At that time, my mom was working in the hospital. So I would always go over to my grandmother’s house; she would babysit me. But she was really shaping me into the woman I am today because we were constantly exploring my imagination, diving deep into performing, and trying different things. I’m really grateful for that. I don’t think I would be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for those experiences. So I’m going along with that, thinking that’s life. My grandmother’s constantly telling me, “You’re a star, Madison. You’re born for this, and that, and the other.”
Then I hear a radio ad about a commercial. And I’m like, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be on TV.” I tell my mom, and she’s like, “You’re crazy. We live in the middle of nowhere. We don’t do that. We have a farm, we go to school. That’s it.” And I’m like, “No, I want to be on TV. That’s what I’m going to do.” Finally, after like two years of begging, she’s like, “Okay, fine, you can try it.”
So we give it a shot, and I end up booking a Blue Cross and Blue Shield commercial and an episode of One Tree Hill. I’m like, “Yeah, this makes me so happy. I feel so fulfilled. This makes me feel like I’m doing everything that I’m meant to do.”
So I end up getting signed to an agent and manager in New York City. We go out there for the summer and I land some Broadway shows. We have to up and move, and we moved to New York. My mom quit her job and just up and moved with me, and my dad did too. I’m really proud and grateful for them because it shows that they were fully supportive of whatever I wanted to do. I would have still been living in North Carolina if it wasn’t for them saying, “Okay, this is what you want to do. We’ll fully support you. Do whatever makes you happy.” So we move to New York. We live there for, I want to say, six and a half years. Then I get a call that I booked a big role, and we had only three days to move to California. So we moved to California, and I’ve been out here for eight years now. I was doing acting, and I’m still doing acting, but now I’m more focused on music.
I’m in the process of creating my debut album, “Metanoia.” Music has always been a part of my life. It started off as just songwriting as a pastime, a way to express myself. I actually recorded an EP when I was nine, but I never released it because I was too scared. Then we moved out here, and I was getting back into music because it made me so happy. I love playing my guitars, my instruments. This is what truly makes me happy. So I went into the studio again, recorded more songs, but still didn’t release them. And then COVID hit. I went through a tough breakup with a guy who wasn’t a good person.
But, it opened doors for me in the music industry, so I’m grateful for that. He was the driving force that made me realize I needed something to cope with the situation. I went back into the studio and thought, “Hey, he does music. I’m releasing my music.” He had a director, so I used his director. And from there, things spiraled out of control in a good way. Now I’m doing what I love, and I’m truly so, so grateful.
Yitzi: Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Madisyn: Well, that’s a tough one. I’d say people often overlook the aspect of rejection. There’s a significant amount of rejection in this industry, and you need to be entirely at peace with it. As a child actor, you attend numerous auditions for movies, TV shows, and commercials. You must have a strong sense of self-assurance and understand that every rejection simply paves the way for another opportunity. It’s alright; everything unfolds for a reason. If something doesn’t work out, it wasn’t meant for me. This perspective on rejection has truly molded me into the person I am today. I now view every situation as a chance, not something happening to me, but rather for me. Sure, life can throw curveballs, but that’s part of the journey. Regardless of your actions, things will occur. The key is to acknowledge that it wasn’t meant to be and move forward toward bigger and better things. So, that’s one aspect.
Another point is how we often think that things will be better on the other side. There was a time when I thought, “I’m done with acting. I’ll lead a regular life, attend a typical high school, join the cheer team — everything!” My expectations were sky-high, but reality shattered them rapidly. All I had to base this on we’re high school musicals and Glee. I entered with the assumption that everyone would get along, that I’d become popular — essentially, a dream scenario. But the reality was starkly different. I faced intense bullying, which now just amuses me. It’s like, “Well, that’s how it goes.” It was an extraordinary yet challenging experience. I once believed that teenage years and early twenties were the peak times of life, and I felt I was missing out. So, I ventured into this alternate perspective, and the grass was far from greener. It felt more like struggling on that side. Although the situation was tough, I’m genuinely thankful for the ordeal. It’s taught me to appreciate the small blessings and not become fixated on others’ actions because their choices might not align with mine. What’s right for someone else might not be right for me. Therefore, I prioritize doing what brings me joy and fulfillment. That’s what truly matters. So, at this stage in my life, my focus revolves around activities that fulfill me and contribute to my happiness. Living this way has proven effective.
Yitzi: You know, getting to know you a bit and seeing such a nice and gentle kind person, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to bully you. Would you feel comfortable sharing a story about your bullying experience and how you dealt with it?
Madisyn: It’s a part of my life, and I don’t have a problem talking about it. I mean, there’s always been a little bit of catty behavior that I’ve been exposed to, and I vividly remember it. It all started in fifth grade. There was this girl in my class, and she was also in my band at the time. She just wasn’t a nice girl, constantly trying to provoke me in ways that were just tearing me down, very derogatory. She would make these nasty comments all the time. And, you know, you’re just nine years old at the time, you don’t really understand why the other person is doing this, what their motivations are. But then I kind of just let it go, thinking, well, I’ve got other things going on in my life, whatever. But then I went to high school, and I was bullied for different reasons. I was bullied for being considered the “pretty girl,” for going out with guys, trying to have my first kiss, you know, just doing normal teenage things. But I think a lot of it boiled down to the fact that people were just trying to find something wrong with me, something to cling onto. And, I mean, I don’t hold it against them. It is what it is. Those experiences didn’t push me away from having friends, but I realized I find so much more fulfillment in being with my family and people who are like-minded. So, I’m good. I don’t need drama in my life, I don’t need negativity. And that’s really what it all came down to. There was so much negativity, just cutting me down for dressing up for school, while many would come to school in their pajamas. But for me, whenever I look my best, I feel my best. It boosts my confidence and overall performance. So, I used to get ready for school every morning because it made me more productive. However, I guess that made me a target in a way. I don’t really know. But, honestly, it is what it is. People hurt, and hurt people hurt others. That’s what I’ve learned. So, I don’t hold it against them. It hasn’t changed how I view myself. Of course, there were times when I felt depressed about it, especially during those tough moments. I’d open up to my mom about it, and she would go to the school thinking that would put an end to everything. But in reality, it made things worse. But, you know, you don’t know what you don’t know. So, it is what it is.
Yitzi: We truly appreciate your vulnerability and your willingness to share that. They say that sometimes our mistakes can turn out to be our greatest teachers. Do you have a story about a humorous mistake from when you were just starting out, and could you share the lesson you took from it?
Madisyn: Closing night was upon us, and I was on stage, blowing my bubbles as I did every single night. However, I had forgotten to visit the bathroom beforehand. I was standing there, on stage, desperately needing to pee, but there simply wasn’t enough time to go before my scene. So, I went ahead and performed my part. And yes, you guessed it, I ended up wetting my pants right there on the Broadway stage. So, consider that the theater officially christened. (chuckles) In retrospect, the lesson I took away from that embarrassing incident is to always use the bathroom before stepping onto the stage, and to do so well ahead of time. Trust me, it’s essential — nature has its way of asserting itself.
Looking back, it’s become a significant lesson for me. I can now chuckle about it. Initially, the embarrassment was overwhelming, but now I think, “Well, that’s an unforgettable experience for you.” Who else can say they’ve marked a Broadway stage that way? (laughs) The whole urgency, I believe, can be attributed to nervousness. Those pre-performance jitters can definitely lead to such moments.
So, yeah, it’s a major lesson I’ve learned. Always make sure, especially before you tackle something important, to take that bathroom break.
Yitzi: Aside from your parents and immediate family, is there a person who has had a profound impact on your life? If so, could you share a story about that person?
Madisyn: I’d definitely have to mention my grandmother. She’s been a huge influence on shaping me into the woman I am today. Without her, I honestly believe I wouldn’t be where I am now. She’s involved in every aspect of my life. For instance, she’s the first to hear all of my unreleased music before anyone else does. My mom, too — we’re like three peas in a pod. We chat daily, and having such a strong bond with her is something I cherish. She’s an incredible woman who taught me a valuable lesson: prioritize your own happiness over trying to please others. Live your life for yourself, because seeking others’ approval won’t bring you true contentment.
As for non-immediate family influences, I have to give a shoutout to my fans — I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Their support has been pivotal in getting me to where I am today. From watching my shows to listening to my music, even back in my regular high school days, they’ve been there. I genuinely appreciate every single one of them. Now, with what I’m doing, my ultimate goal is to make a meaningful impact. If my music can touch even one person who follows me, that’s incredibly rewarding for me.
Yitzi: You have a foot in three industries: television, Broadway theater, and music. Your perspective is quite unique. So, let’s imagine you were the queen of Hollywood or the queen of the music industry. What changes over the past five years make you happy? And as the queen of these industries, what changes would you bring about in the future?
Madisyn: Oh, I really love the surge in women’s empowerment. Taylor Swift stands out in this regard; she’s a massive inspiration for me. Seeing her reclaim her music from Scooter Braun is just incredibly inspiring. This trend is prevalent in Hollywood too. Women are driving this movement, showcasing immense power. It’s heartening to witness and receive the acknowledgement we rightfully deserve for the relentless effort we pour into shaping the industry.
As for changes, I would emphasize support across the board. It’s a significant aspect often overlooked. People rarely discuss the accompanying challenges. You’re bound to encounter individuals who aren’t radiating positivity. So, the key is promoting an overarching positive atmosphere without fixating on negativity. Naturally, negative individuals cross everyone’s path, but maintaining a positive outlook is crucial.
Yitzi: If you could consolidate all your songs, your music, and your work into a single container, what overarching theme or message are you aiming to convey to the world?
Madisyn: It’s actually quite challenging because, well, let me give you a quick rundown. My album is set to release on my 21st birthday, containing 21 songs to celebrate the occasion. These songs trace the journey of grief within the context of a relationship. Personally, I draw inspiration from my own experiences, whether it’s reflecting on my various relationships or empathizing with my girlfriends’ dating escapades.
So, when it comes to my music, it’s about the stages of breaking up, rebounding, and ultimately finding happiness and contentment on your own. As for acting, it’s an entirely distinct realm. The direction varies depending on the character I’m portraying. With some past roles, I fully embraced my inner nerd — that aspect of me got its time in the spotlight through that role.
In some of those cases, there was a strong emphasis on professionalism and adopting a specific mindset. On the other hand, when it comes to my music, it’s more about revealing my true self and how I wish to be perceived by the world, allowing people to glimpse into my persona.
Yitzi: Please elaborate on your work, particularly your music. Please tell us why we should buy it and please tell us about your upcoming plans. We’re eager to hear more.
Madisyn: Honestly, this is just me being candid. To really understand me better, all you have to do is listen to the music. Each and every one of these songs reflects who I am at my core. For instance, there are tracks like “DGAF” where I talk about not being much of a club-goer. I’m not into the whole scene of going out, meeting new people, or partying. It’s just not my vibe.
However, my girlfriends are totally into that lifestyle, and I’ve never really felt inclined to join them in that. But when I had a session to work on that particular song, I thought, “Okay, let me tap into what they’ve shared about their relationships and how they move on from guys.” So, throughout my music, I touch on the various men who’ve entered my life, the different connections I’ve experienced, and also, how I perceive it all.
In a way, I’m offering insights to my friends, showing them my take on their actions, how they dealt with certain situations, and how they emerged from them. If you’re looking to truly grasp who I am, just listen to the music — that’s the most authentic way. Sure, I do share things on Instagram, but let’s be real, Instagram is a highly curated platform. With my music, it’s unfiltered and real. My ultimate goal is to be my genuine self, and if people resonate with it, fantastic. If not, that’s okay too — it’s all genuine and it brings me joy.
Yitzi: Was it hard to put out 21 songs? For me even one song would be hard. How did you do that?
Madisyn: It changed so naturally. To be completely honest, I had, I want to say, 18 or 19 songs. We decided that we were going to release the songs in November, and I was like, “Oh, I’ll just throw them out in November.”
But then we started talking and I’m like, “Wait, I’m turning 21 this November.” And I was like, “Wait, but we have like 18 songs, 19 songs. We should just make like three more and make it 21. I mean, it’s going to be my 21st birthday. Might as well make it a whole shebang.”
So I went back in and I made a few more songs. But honestly, all of these songwriting sessions are so fun to do. It doesn’t feel like work, and that’s the best part. I’m so happy whenever I leave my sessions and I’ll go in my journal and talk about whatever I’m dealing with that day or whatever has been on my mind.
It’s so fun because I get to talk about all of these different things and I never run out of content because it’s my life. There’s always things that are changing or evolving that I can talk about and I love being able to do that.
So it kind of just came naturally. And it just happened. So here we are. 21 songs in honor of my 21st birthday.
Yitzi: Do you say that you use your journal like the first draft of your music?
Madisyn: I do, 100%. So I’ll write literally everything that I’m feeling and just kind of lay it out. I’m not writing it in song format. It’s kind of just talking about whatever’s going on in my life.
And then I’ll go into my session and I’m like, “Okay, this is the mood that I’m in. Do I want to write something sad or do I want to write something happy? Okay, let’s write something sad.”
So then I’m flipping through my journal of all of my sad entries like, “Oh, this man hurt my feelings or this happened and this made me sad.” And then I like to pull from all of those different journal entries of what I was feeling in those exact moments and then come up with this general theme and then we kind of deep dive into it. And sometimes we create little backstories for the character of whatever it’s talking about and make it a little bit better.
I mean, especially with “DGAF” that was a good one to talk about because I didn’t have those experiences but my girlfriends did. So I called up my girlfriends and I’m like, “Hey, whatever you were doing this, what were you feeling? What were you thinking about?”
And then with “I Like Your Dad,” that was a similar story because “I Like Your Dad” started off as a complete joke. My little brother, Jesse, who’s 10, is obsessed with “Stacy’s Mom” and he would make me play that song over and over and over again. Like, do not get me wrong, that is a great song but not when you’re hearing it like 50 times a day. So I finally got to the point where I was like, “Jesse, I cannot listen to this song again. I am going to blow my brains out if I hear this again.” So I was like, “Look, I’ll make my own version. I’ll make you like a version that came from me. Like, it’ll be better.” So I go into the studio and I start to think and I’m like, “There’s not a girl version.” Okay, let me just channel that. Everyone had a hot dad fantasy. I mean, everyone can relate. So I go in and I just start writing it. And I really thought it was just going to be for my family and my close friends. I was not planning on releasing this at all. And then Jesse was really the driving force and motivator in that. He’s like, “Love this song, Madisyn. Like, please release it.” So then it kind of just spiraled out of control. And here we are.
Yitzi: It’s beautiful. Okay, so this is our signature question that we ask in all of our interviews. You’ve achieved a lot of success, and looking back to when you first started — when you were very young — you learned a ton. What are the five things you wish someone had told you when you first started?
- I would say, “Don’t get discouraged.” That is the biggest thing. Don’t get discouraged. Just because, I mean, going back to the whole rejection thing, there’s so much rejection. There were so many times in my career, especially in the early days, where I wanted to quit. I was like, “I’m not cut out for this. This is not what I want to be doing. I didn’t sign up for this.” And I’m so grateful that I stuck with it, because now I am the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
- So I would say that. I would also say, “Live your life for you and don’t live it for other people.” There’s going to be people who judge, and especially with what I’m doing now, there are definitely some family members who are not too thrilled with the kind of things that I write about or the things that I post on my Instagram. But at the end of the day, I really don’t care. I’m living my life for me, and I’m happy.
- Oh, I would say, “Positivity.” It’s another thing — always try to project positivity, because what you put out into the universe is what you’re going to get in return. So I try to always treat everyone that I come into contact with in a positive and uplifting way, because at the end of the day, that’s what I want back in return. I’m putting it out there, and I’m going to get it back.
- I would say, “Don’t expect anything.” Whatever is meant to be will be. If a door closes, another one opens. Just let life happen and let nature take its course. Don’t get caught up in the little things. Just keep it moving. Keep the train on the tracks and just keep going, because something will happen. Something will fall into place. It all works out.
- And then also, just take care of yourself. I think that’s such a big thing. And I know for me, there are so many little things that I do to make sure that I’m completely in check, and that’s journaling — that’s writing my music, and that really is therapy for me. But I also aim to fill my mind with good, powerful things that are going to lift me up as a person. So I’m constantly listening to motivational speakers and podcasts that are going to better me. I’m reading books — I can’t tell from my book wall. They’re all motivational books. So I’m constantly trying to feed my mind and my brain with those kinds of things, so that I’m continuing to be the best version of myself on a daily basis.
Yitzi: Because of your great work and the platform you’ve built, you’re a person of enormous influence, and many people take your words seriously. If you could spread an idea or inspire, what movements would bring the most good to the most people? You never know what your idea can ignite.
Madisyn: I would say, be the real you. That’s such an important thing, and I’m definitely doing that now. But I remember when I first started my Instagram, everything was so specific in what I was posting. It wasn’t who I really was; it was more like an idea of who I wanted to become. Now, I’ve embraced the life lesson of being true to myself. If people can’t accept the real me, then they’re not meant to be part of my life, not meant to support what I do.
So nowadays, everything I post on Instagram reflects my life. Many of my captions are either silly or focused on personal development because that’s who I am. I talk about different quotes I’ve come across that resonate with what I’m feeling when I share a particular moment. The picture might not be recent, but that caption is exactly what’s going on inside me.
I’m striving to be more genuine in everything I do. Honesty needs to be prevalent in a world that’s overly edited and superficial, especially in today’s era. Everything is polished and meticulously presented. So, my aim is to counter that by being real. We’ve become so detached from our true selves that platforms like Instagram and social interactions, in general, can become a facade.
I want the people who follow me to witness my crazy, spontaneous moments, whether it’s me going wild on Instagram Live, dancing around, fueled by excessive coffee, or engaging in various activities. I’m opening up and letting them see the real me.
Yitzi: This is what we call our “matchmaker question,” and it sometimes works. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a power lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Madisyn: I’m going to say, matchmaker, go set me up with this person! Yes, he’s married, but like, “Oh my God, I love him.” He’s my celebrity crush. I’m going to say Rob Schneider. I would love to be able to do that. I think my grandmother and my mom would be very jealous because this love is three generations strong. My grandmother was in love with him. My mom’s in love with him. I’m in love with him. So I feel like they’d be a little jealous. They might have to tag along, but I will definitely be there. No questions asked. You tell me a date. I’ll be there. I’ll cancel everything. That would make me the happiest woman in the world.
Yitzi: How can our readers purchase your music? Can readers continue to follow your work? How can readers keep supporting what you’re doing?
Madisyn: I’m present on all social media platforms. You can find me on Instagram as Madison Shipman. My music is available on various platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, and everywhere else you typically access music. Additionally, I’m releasing new music videos on YouTube.
There’s a fresh single debuting each month leading up to the album release. Just last week, I dropped a single titled “Jill.” So, make sure to give it a listen and watch the accompanying video. You might also catch a glimpse of my adorable little dogs making a cameo in it. If you’re interested in a sneak peek of my family, just click on the video.
Yitzi: Wonderful. Madison, it’s truly delightful and joyful to meet you. I wish you ongoing blessings and success, and I hope we can have another conversation when you embark on another exciting project.
Madisyn: I’d absolutely love that. Let’s stay in touch, and I really appreciate your vibrant energy. Just continue being yourself and go out there to conquer today.
Yitzi: Thank you very much.
Actress & Music Star Madisyn Shipman On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.