We had the good fortune of connecting with Madeleine Quinn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Madeleine, why did you pursue a creative career?
In high school, my speech teacher assigned us a task: we were given 6 categories of careers and instructed to categorize them by their necessity to society. The assignment felt impossible, how can you rank health workers versus farmers or educators versus artists? Everyone’s orders were different, but a pattern prevailed of placing the arts last. I couldn’t help resisting such a notion. I don’t mean to ignore the indisputable necessity of health workers and farmers, and can’t even begin to express the enormity of my gratitude to these essential workers. But do artists also in some way offer a vital service to humanity? Food fuels the body; art fuels the soul. As human beings, we possess an intellect and spirit greater than our physical form. Yes, without food, drink, or shelter, we couldn’t survive, but one must ask if those base needs are what truly define our humanity. For ages, people have been wondering, what makes us human? I believe much of it comes down to our ability to create and to inspire; the intellect that pushes us to pursue something greater. This artistic expression is essential to human existence, well-being, faith, and community.
To me, art is the same as breathing. I can’t imagine my life without the music, literature, performances, and pieces that have molded me into who I am today. They have taught me about the world and illuminated how to lead a life worth living, a life of purpose lived for others. I want to inspire others the same way these works of art have inspired me. I believe that art has the power to change the world if one has the heart to create it and the drive to pursue it.
Performing awakes my soul. Creation channels my chaos. Acting offers opportunity to tell stories otherwise forgotten, stories that demand to be told. Dance expresses a vitality that reminds us what it means to be alive. Music vocalizes the emotions impossible to be spoken. These forms of art beckon to me and refuse to be ignored. I am not pursuing an artistic career out of a want, but rather a need. A need to create. A need to inspire. A need to breathe.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Since I was little, I have yearned to perform and create. Whether a dance recital, school play, or self-produced concert in my basement, I have never strayed far from the arts. However as I have gotten older, I have found myself contemplating the ethics of such a pursuit. But while some may consider acting a selfish and egocentric occupation, I have determined this not to be the case. My Catholic faith has always taught me to place others first and acting has only strengthened this mentality. Within the work itself, the actor must focus on the other person or people in any scene. The second an actor allows their mind to vainly wonder how their performance is going, the second they’ve lost the scene. In acting I have learned to prioritize listening over speaking and phrase everything I do in terms of the other. Such a practice has guided me in my life as well as career. I strive to be a person with and for others and believe that acting has aided in such an endeavor. Theatre and film are team efforts. We need one another in order to succeed and I adore the empathetic mindset this encourages. Acting allows abundant room to carry my life into my work and my work into my life. Just as my passions in life span a wide spectrum, from dance to soccer and animals to archery, acting continues to present new opportunities to grow and explore. One of my favorite things about acting is that I continuously discover new outlets to express my work. In the past year, I have found joy in acting as a princess for young children, exploring sitcom acting, reigniting my love of musical theatre, and diving into the delightful world of voiceover. Though my brother informed me at the age of four that being a princess “was not a career choice,” I have since learned that this may not be the case. I recently had the opportunity to act as a variety of princesses, bringing magic to children on their birthdays and being charmed by such a dreamlike experience, feeling my childhood fantasies take form. And simultaneously, I have been studying the art of sitcom acting, exploring fascinating characters and learning what it is that makes “funny” funny. Through improv exercises and countless scene rehearsals, I have felt the lure of sitcom acting and the replication of day-to-day life that they so endearingly portray.
I have revisited my love of singing and musical theatre. Though I have always loved singing and the enchantment of telling stories through songs, it has not been my focus these past few years. However, a course of singing and “acting the song” has reawakened my appreciation for such a complete style of art, captivating me with the challenge of countless concurrent tasks: singing, dancing, acting, volume, mouth placement, breath control, emotional involvement, relationship awareness, and more. This focus on expression through voice has perfectly coincided with an exploration of voiceover acting. Though voice is essential to acting, I have never before concentrated on the voice as an entity independent of the body and such a concept has been fascinating. It has been truly liberating to play around with the myriad sounds we can create, producing noises and voices of which I never knew I was capable. Without worrying how your look matches your voice or character, voiceover opens the door to endless possibilities, bringing to life the child inside me and prompting games of pretend toward which I already lean.
These are just a few of the myriad applications of acting I so readily enjoy. Each outlet engages a different string of the same instrument, combining to generate an infinite collection of melodies and perpetually inspiring my continual pursuit of such a compelling art.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Coming from Kansas City, Missouri, I have had the honor of showing a couple friends from home around the great city of LA. Much as I did four years ago when I first moved to Los Angeles, they all come eager to see the palm trees, Pacific Ocean, celebrities, and In-N-Out. And while all of these are certainly worthwhile experiences, I have found in my few years that LA has so much more to offer. I am a tea addict and so a stop by a coffee and tea shop would be essential. One morning we would head to Blue Butterfly in El Segundo, giving us a chance to walk around the adorable town while sipping on our tea or coffee. El Segundo offers a completely different vibe from other areas of LA, feeling a bit more homey and small town even amidst such a big city. Another morning we might hit Tanner’s Coffee down in Playa del Rey for their delicious Raspberry Vanilla Chai Tea latte and take a stroll around the almost vintage feeling Playa del Rey area.
I’d be sure to set our alarms early one day to go surfing at El Porto beach. Though I just began learning to surf myself, there’s nothing like getting to the beach while most of the city is still asleep: feeling the crisp morning air and seeing all the dark clad surfers bobbing like penguins in the water. And then diving right into the brisk water to catch a wave yourself!
To keep us moving, we’d drive to a hike next, whether in the Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Runyon Canyon, or the Angeles National Forest. LA has so many great outdoor beauties in addition to its urban attractions, hikes that showcase both the blue Pacific and the towering mountains. As we marched along steep dirt trails, we’d see the entire city to one side while a world of natural splendor would await just steps away.
We would have to make a stop in downtown Los Angeles at the Last Bookstore, one of my personal favorites. I could spend hours, if not days, at the Last Bookstore. Walking through its doors feels as if you have been transported directly into one of its many adventure novels. You can smell the leather and paper in the air, feel the breath of books settling onto their shelves, and sense the anticipation of opening an unknown book. Upstairs is a labyrinth of genre and style, the paths twisting and turning through a world of colored spines, each displaying just a hint at what waits within its pages.
By now we would have worked up an appetite. We could head right down the street to taste any number of cuisines at Grand Central Market and perhaps would stop by the Playa Vista Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning to pick up some fruit, vegetables, and delicious honey sticks. Before the end of the trip, we would be sure to eat a meal at Tocaya, Mendocino Farms, Benny’s Tacos, and Bruno’s. There are so many incredible people, places, and things to see in LA that it would be impossible to hit them all in one week, but it would be an absolute delight showing my friend a few of my favorite spots.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have been blessed with such wonderful people in my life that I genuinely don’t know where I would be without a single one of my family members, friends, teachers, and mentors that have supported me along the way. And while I wish I had the time to thank them all, I want to dedicate my shoutout to the one and only Nenad Pervan. Neno is a professor and director at Loyola Marymount University, but is a great deal more than just another teacher. Neno was the first faculty member I met at LMU back when I was a mere high school senior exploring the theatre building. Neno instantly made me feel welcome and continued to do so throughout my four years. In taking his Scene Study course as well as spending a semester abroad in an acting program under his direction, I learned so much about acting, art, history, and performance. It’s difficult to describe the strength of the bonds formed in my semester-long program in Germany, but Neno taught and supported our entire ensemble throughout the four months. He cheered us on in our successes, comforted us when we fell flat, and made sure to always keep us in line. He accompanied me to the doctor when I broke my finger during a scene and helped each of us maintain balance (literally and figuratively) when walking on stilts. He directed us in our performance of the play Spring Awakening, pursuing an ingenious vision unlike any I had before experienced.
Neno is one of the most creative, innovative, and talented people I have met and by whom I have had the honor of being taught. He’s encouraged me to take risks in my acting and make bold choices, teaching me to explore what is truly driving a character. He has helped me to feel confident in my performances while always challenging me to grow further. Neno has truly helped shape me into the actor I am today. He demonstrates kindness and generosity in all that he does and I am incredibly thankful to have had the chance to learn from such a talented actor, professor, director, and friend.
Other: Email: email@example.com
Kyle Braun, Madison Nay, Jorge C, Matt Farren