You might know Mckenna Grace from her various acting roles which include Ghostbusters: Afterlife, I, Tonya, and The Haunting of Hill House, but did you know that she is also a singer? We got to sit down with Mckenna and learn more about her acting career, her music, and the script she and her dad wrote together over quarantine.
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Let’s go back in time and start off with your acting career! You’ve had so many amazing roles playing the younger version of the main character! Are there any characters or actors you’d love to play a younger version of?
I’ve been so lucky to play the younger version of so many cool people. Maybe Emma Watson because I totally look up to her. OH! Meryl Streep! How insane would that be to play the younger version of Meryl Streep? That would be so crazy as I’ve always looked up to her.
We know you learned to ice skate for your role in I, Tonya! That’s definitely one for our bucket list! Have you kept this up; and are there any other skills you’d like to master, professionally or personally?
I haven’t kept up ice skating as much because that was so rough and I can only imagine what Miss Margot went through being the main Tonya. They really only gave me five days to learn how to ice skate like an Olympic skater.
But I roller skate a ton! I like to go to the skate park and I’m trying to learn how to do tricks. I can drop into bowls and stuff, so I’m proud of that, but I’d really love to master roller skating and do cartwheels and cool stuff like that!
I learned how to do a Rubix cube in under five minutes for Ghostbusters: Afterlife and we didn’t end up using it, but that was a lot of fun.
You’ve had a spectacular career so far and played so many different characters. Do you draw from your acting experience and channel certain characters when writing songs or do you like to keep both separate?
I keep them separate because for writing music I like to draw a lot from my personal life. I can’t really write a song if it hasn’t happened to me. I don’t know why because I can write scripts and stories and stuff that are wildly different than any life that I have lived, but when it comes to music, it’s really personal to me.
For Ghostbusters: Afterlife, [the song] was for me, but I presented it to them and they were like ‘Oh, this fits!’ and put it in [to the movie].
In 2021 you were nominated for your first Emmy! Congratulations! Where were you when this happened and how were you feeling?
I was on set and I was in the school room and I was helping one of my friends with their art homework. I was sitting there watching the Emmy nominations and I knew that I was not going to get nominated, but I wanted to see who else would get nominated. The stream had stopped working right as it got to my category and then I got a call from my dad, who was on his way to work, and we all freaked out on the phone together.
It was genuinely so surreal, it was one of the coolest moments of my life. And then I got to go to the Emmy’s with my dad and afterward we went and got Papa John’s, so it was just so nice.
You and your dad collaborated on writing the Bad Seed 2 script over lockdown. What has the process been like for you taking on more roles behind the camera?
My dad and I got really bored over quarantine. My dad is a great writer and loves Stephen King and books, but he’s now an orthopedic surgeon. And I’m like ‘Man, why’d you have to become a surgeon? Why can’t you stay home and write with me all day?’ But yeah, he’s a great writer and we got bored and were like ‘Why don’t we write a script!’
Scripts and films take ages to get made, and we knew Bad Seed wanted to make a sequel, so we were like ‘Why don’t we write the sequel?’ And we hadn’t even talked to the production of Bad Seed in months and we still did it, we just wrote a second film and got together a lookbook and sent it to them. No notice, no warning! And then it ended up getting made, but the original script we sent them was too dark, so we had to do a re-write, which was actually really funny. But it was really cool being able to explore the title of a writer and producer, it was a really really cool experience.
Now that we’ve talked a bit about your acting career; let’s get into the music! We loved your music video debut and the haunted house aesthetic. You’ve been in some pretty spooky shows but would you rather live in the haunted house in your music video or have to spend a week in Hill House?
I’m trying to think of how long we lived in that house, like canonically in the show, before everything went crazy, cause maybe I could survive a week. But the house we shot the music video in was a little bit dusty and old, you know? Honestly, Hill House was like bopping that was a cool house, so I’d totally chill in Hill House for a week and not die or anything. It’ll be fine.
One thing that is remarkable about your music is how authentic and honest you come across in your songs like ‘Post Party Trauma’ and ‘do all my friends hate me?’ What is the songwriting process like for you when writing about more vulnerable emotions?
It’s total therapy and I just put it all out there. Which is very frightening and scary because I never talk about that kind of stuff in interviews or in my everyday life. I’m a very positive and extroverted person and I always like to bring a ton of positivity to what I do, but everybody has their moments. I have anxiety, and I feel like most of us do after being locked inside for two years. I think that it’s scary to have always been a positive person, and continue to be one, but then coming out with ‘hey uh, i think that all my friends hate me. Also, I’m terrified of parties and public settings.’
It feels out of the blue for me, but it’s also nice to get it all out there. I just hope that I can help other people feel less alone. I want to make sure that I’m not seen as feeding into the negativity, but for me listening to music is a therapeutic outlet, the same as writing it.
That’s what I hope people can get from my music. That they can find something they relate to, cry, and let it out, and then they can get back up and know that they are okay and everything will be fine.
You’ve also done a couple of partnerships recently with brands that support mental health and well-being. Are there any simple things that you do on a daily basis that lift your spirits?
I have my dog, Gizmo, he’s my little guy. I’m a very artistic person, so I like to do creative things, like play music or listen to music. I like to play my piano, sometimes I’ll pray, and I like to have little things around like this guy [holds up a Ratatouille cup]. It just makes me happy. I’ll go on a bike ride, I’ll go roller-skating, just anything to clear my mind. Fresh air is nice, but it’s also nice to be curled up in my bed, so it totally depends. I’m still trying to figure out what works for me.
Each of the songs you’ve released so far has felt very different. Are there any genres you particularly enjoy when writing?
Honestly, I want to find my aesthetic, but there are too many types of music that I’m exploring right now. I find that I do come back to sad songs and I like that rockish type of feel. It’s not rock, but I don’t know what to call it. I just really like the rocky vibe and sad songs, it’s kind of all I do right now.
We spent ages pouring over the lyrics of ‘You Ruined Nirvana’ trying to catch all the band references! We noticed a few nods to bands like Green Day and the Artic Monkeys but we wanted to know if there are any other bands you’re loving right now!
I’m always listening to something different. I was listening to Hobo Johnson this morning. Lovejoy and Radiohead will always be my top two bands, but lately, I’ve been super into Djo, which is Joe Keery’s band. I’m now a #1 Joe Keery fan. I’ve been listening to The Pixies a lot, they are great. I’ve been in a massive script-writing mood and when I’m writing scripts, I listen to a ton of music for inspiration. I think that might be all I can remember, for now, band-wise, but there are too many artists to name.
You recently posted a TikTok snippet of a new song you wrote, that’s been unofficially named ‘Buzzkill.’ We love it and so do your fans, can we expect any more new music drops on the near horizon?
I’m trying to figure out what songs to put out because I have so many demos. So now I have just been getting antsy and bored and been like ‘You know what, I’m just going to put my song on TikTok.’ I don’t know when I’m going to release the song, but I’m going to put it on TikTok, just to see if people like it. But yeah, that one is definitely one of my favorite songs that I have and I’m excited to put that one out.
To round it all out, Is there anything you’ve learned from acting that you’ve carried over to your music, or vice versa?
I know that I’ve been learning a lot more about music and I have been shooting all summer and I find that the project that I am on I’ve learned a lot more about acting, which has been nice. I feel like I have a lot more experience writing now in both aspects, so I don’t know. Maybe my script-writer part of me is making me better at story-telling in songs, hopefully, or vice versa!
Though I like being a musical person because when I write scripts or am playing a character, I always make playlists for the character that I play. Now they’ve kind of molded together, so now music not only helps me in my personal life but getting into character, I always have my airpods with me on set.
Is there anything else you’d like to plug for our readers to go and check out?
I have a ton of new things going on acting-wise. I just finished shooting in Atlanta all summer and I’m about to go shoot something else. The new season of Handmaid’s Tale comes out in September. And I’m working on releasing music more often because I absolutely love it.
But you are loved! You are important and an important part of this world and you are loved and special, even if nobody told you it today, you’re perfect.
We absolutely adore Mckenna Grace and loved getting this chance to talk to her. ‘Post Party Trauma’ is something that we have all felt and we hope after you listen to it that you feel less alone.
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Co-Owner + Lead Photographer of The Honey POP. Lover of Dr Pepper Zero, Christmas lights, and cross-country road trips.