Q&A with Bailee MadisonBailee Madison talks about starring in the Netflix faith-based musical film, “A Week Away," making the film authentic to Christian summer camps and more.
PEER: What is your favorite song from the film and why?
BAILEE MADISON: I genuinely love our entire soundtrack. Personally, I love the “God Only Knows/Awesome God” mash-up. Just recording that song, it was one of the fastest songs when it came to recording it, everything seemed to fall into place. In the movie, it gives me goosebumps all the time. I do love that one. But then also, “Let’s Go Make A Memory” always gets me up. The message of “Good Enough.” I genuinely love it all.
P: Right. Awesome. I like the lyric in “Good Enough” — “You got no reason to doubt, you are beautiful inside and out.” It is so simple yet so impactful.
B: Thank you. I remember talking to Alan Powell and he had written this song specifically for his little girls. I am an aunt and I have some new little nieces and nephews and I feel like it is such an important message. I love the idea that the lyrics and music are so impressionable right now and that is such an easy way to get something into someone’s head. And so, the idea of those lyrics with such a beautiful message being stuck in people’s minds is really special.
P: The movie was filmed on location at a summer camp. How did you, the rest of the cast, and the producers make the film and characters to be authentic to Christian summer camps and campers?
B: I have never been able to go to a camp, and so, I was deeply no help with that. But I think they spoke to so many people as well. We had so many conversations with actual camp counselors at the camp we filmed in. I was always asking questions about what the experience is like, but I think they probably pulled a lot from personal experiences. And then also, from people that they knew that went to camps. I think the hope was that the movie did feel really inviting and that there was maybe something in there that someone would go, “Oh, I have that in my camp. Oh, I remember this, and we did that.” We really hope the audience gets to see themselves in this film. I think everyone tried.
P: So, it is a faith-based musical film. The producers and director created this to be less of a Christian film and more of a universal film with Christian elements so that it is for everyone. Why was it important that this film reach a broader audience, but still have those Christian elements?
B: Well, I think that it just speaks on our world. I think everyone has different opinions and different kinds of beliefs. It is our job to listen to those opinions and beliefs, and then, represent. I think the team that was assembled happens to be believers for the most part. I was growing up in a very faith-based household but a household that was taught that you love everybody no matter the differences or arguments or anything that comes from it. We, first and foremost, just love first and you accept all. And so, I think the last thing that we wanted to do was to single anything out or take any person out of this film. I think the hope is that, at the end of the day, the core message is truly to lend a hand, to help a neighbor, to find the beauty within yourself, to believe in the power of redemption, standing up stronger and firmer, staying true to who you are, and knowing that there is going to be hope and a light at the end of a dark day. Those are just universal messages that I think we can all agree as humans are really important things. And obviously, if someone listens to these songs or they are on their journey of faith or they are believers, they also feel like there is something for them as well. So, I think the hope is that everyone will be welcome to sit down, enjoy this movie, sing these songs with us, dance with us, and whatever they take from it is their personal message. That is a really exciting thing when a film has an opportunity to do that.
P: Yes. I love that it is for everyone. And even watching it, I pray that this is going to just change people’s hearts and people’s lives. So, you are credited as one of the producers. Did you have a different perspective on the set? And how did that affect how you worked?
B: I was so over the moon when I found out I could be a part of the producing team. I produced before in the past, but this is genuinely been, I think, the most hands-on I have been able to be. That is the biggest props to our producing team. I was 19 years old at the time and they beautifully pulled up a seat for me to sit at. It is a big kid table. Through that, it allowed me to really find my voice when it comes to being a woman behind the scenes and behind the camera and what that means.
I feel so fortunate for that. We have wrapped filming for the day, and we would still be altogether writing notes or rewriting scenes. We would be in the middle of rehearsal or filming to take and it would be me looking over to video village. There was one moment, specifically, when the look was made, and we were all on the same page. The lunch break came, and we were sat down there like, “We need to rewrite the scene. This is not working.” And then, we would stay up on the phone calls and rewrite stuff or talk things through. The whole process on set was wonderful. To get to not just care about what I was doing as an actor, but what my fellow actors were doing, how our crew was, and how our background artists were. There were so much that goes into that and my brain loves thinking that way. Especially, more than ever, when we found our home with Netflix and to have the honor to get to work with their creative team and marketing division. I have been like a kid in a candy store. That is my version of it. To get to sit down and learn how to cut a trailer at it or posters and the ins and the outs of all of that. I feel very, very fortunate and extremely humbled to get to be a little part of that process.
P: So, speaking to your character Avery’s, what aspect of Avery’s character do you find the most similar to you in your life? And even your own faith. In other words, do you see your own personality and faith relate to her character?
B: Yes, I do. I actually think that there were some parts of me that they purposely kind of put into Avery through conversations before we started filming. I think one of the things I loved about her is I do think that she sees the best in people. I think I have always tried to do that as well, to see past things and always give someone a chance. I do love that about her.
I also had one of the biggest conversations talking about wanting this movie to touch on a universal level which was the honest conversations about my faith that I even have with friends. That image of painting out that like, “If you have faith, everything’s okay. You are perfect. You have got it figured out.” That is the opposite of it. It is a constant work in progress. The choice that you make. It is a growing relationship. But by no means are, “Do you have it figured out?” And you have no answers either. There was a line in there where she literally says, “I just choose to believe, I mean, that is faith, right?” And that sentence was written because I was like, “That is literally what I say to friends of mine who asked me questions about it.” I am like, “I do not have the answers for you. I just choose to believe it.” I love the fact that that was able to be put in there. It is just a really honest answer.
And then, on another note, the idea of perfection. I think she carries this weight, and she runs the camp. She always wants to be there for other people. She feels the need to be something, and I can relate to that in a sense. It is different growing up in the business. People are always watching. You never want to let anyone down, but at the end of the day, you are only human. I am 21 years old and trying to do the best that I can. Well, also, staying true to my heart and what I am feeling at that time. I would hope that girls and guys are able to look at that and maybe take a breath of relief with her as well and be like, “Yeah, I get that. It is exhausting.”
P: For real. And it sounds like Avery had an impact on your own life too and your faith. Speaking about what you want young people to take from this movie, what overall message do you hope young people, especially young impressionable Christians living in a post-Christian world today, what message do you hope they take from this movie?
B: I think everyone has their own journey and which means they are all looking for something different specific to them. So, whatever they need to hear or something that would make their hearts and their souls feel better, I would hope that this movie opens up the door for that.
But some of my personal things like if I had to say what I hope my little nieces feel when they watch it … it is just so important to me. I would hope that they understand the message of being good enough. We live in a climate where everything is on social media: likes, follower counts, the way that you need to dress and look a certain way. It is the actual beauty standard these days for girls and what is considered beautiful. I think we all need to take a step back and realize we have got to take care of our mental health, especially, for the youth of today and for this generation. I hope that they walk away feeling way more confident in the things that make them themselves, the little unique things that maybe they felt embarrassed about or shy about, that is what makes you so special.
“I would hope that they feel some comfort and some confidence in the beauties within them.”
And then also, there is a sense of loneliness or isolation, especially now more than ever, we are all feeling that. Maybe you have your people and maybe this will encourage you to lean on them more and talk to them more. But if you are someone who feels so lonely and so isolated at that time when that should be given, I hope that there is a sense of hope and faith in the fact that your journey is just the beginning, and you will find your people and family along the way. When that happens, there will be a beautiful sense of light that happens in your life.
P: Speaking about the film again, watching the film, it looks so much fun to shoot and just a blast. I was even dancing along with the music video and the movie. What was the most enjoyable scene to shoot from the movie?
B: Oh, it is such a toughie. There was so much wonderful behind the scenes memories. I still think that this one takes the winner. I have said it in every interview, but I am not changing it because it is my genuine feeling. The “Best Thing Ever” was the choreography and dance number at the end of the movie. That was the last dance number that we filmed, and it was the time that we wrapped our dancers after spending two months in Nashville together. We were beating the sunlight so there was already this urge and energy to be like, “This is our last chance to get this right.” We all cut, and they said, “That is a wrap” on the dancers. Everyone burst into tears. We did not want to leave so we ran off to the field hugging each other and a dance circle was made, and everyone was freestyling, breakdancing and coming up with chants and raps. I am not a part of a dance and I do not know how to tell you what it was like. But for me, I felt like this was our dance crew and a uniformed family. There was just so many emotions floating around at that moment. That was like one of those behind the scenes things that no one will see. It was for all of us to experience and feel and that made it very special.
P: Right. Well, it was a great song and that was one of the songs that I danced along to. Wrapping things up, is there anything else or any encouragement that you would like to share with our readers as they watch this movie or as they go into camp themselves?
B: Well, I hope you all are doing well and healthy. This has been a really crazy time for the entire world. And so, just thinking of you all and sending peace, love and prayers. If you go to camp and you were able to go, enjoy it and lean on your friends. I would also say keep in mind that if there is someone that you usually would not talk to you or someone that seems quieter or anything like that, reach out. Because, goodness knows, we can all use that little reach out here and there. Go have fun and dance for me.
P: Yes. Awesome. Well, as people are going to camp this summer, hopefully. I am sure they will be really excited to watch this movie.
B: I truly am so glad you watched it and enjoyed it. I hope that they feel the same. And the soundtrack. Stream it. Stream it. Dance away. Dance away.