Until recently, Kiernan Shipka was best known for playing little (and then not-so-little) Sally Draper on MAD MEN. Now 19, Shipka is taking on more daring and grown-up roles, as in horror thriller THE SILENCE.
THE SILENCE, directed by John R. Leonetti (ANNABELLE), centers on a family’s struggle to survive in a world overtaken by terrifying monsters. Before it hits theaters, let’s look back Shipka’s career. From day one she’s been on a path to stardom, journeying from pre-teen roles to MAD MEN before transitioning into a leading lady with projects like THE SILENCE.
The Big Breakout
You might think MAD MEN (above) was Shipka’s first gig, but she’s been in the business since 2000. Though her career didn’t really take off until 2006 or so, Shipka made her on-screen debut at just five months old. On the medical drama ER, she played a baby (of course). Around the age of seven, Shipka began appearing on various TV shows. She had parts on popular favorites like MONK, MADTV, HEROES, and JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE.
Shipka made her movie debut in the indie drama DIMENSION, which was filmed in her hometown of Chicago and hit theaters in 2007. That was the same year as the series premiere of MAD MEN. Shipka co-starred in the acclaimed AMC drama series as Sally Draper, the daughter of Jon Hamm’s egotistical advertising executive Don. From the moment MAD MEN debuted it was clear that Shipka was a breakout star. Her performance as Sally became better and more fascinating with each new season.
By 2012 Shipka was a bonafide star; she was famous enough to play herself on an episode of the sitcom DON’T TRUST THE B—- IN APT 23. Around the same time, she landed a regular role on the animated series THE LEGEND OF KORRA, in which she voiced Jinora.
Not Your Average Girl
Even as a teen, Shipka was clearly not interested in typical tween roles in YA movies and cutesy romantic comedies. The first big indication that Shipka sought a different path came with her leading role in the Lifetime network remake of FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. The film was based on the controversial novel by V.C. Andrews about four siblings locked in an attic by their abusive grandmother. It’s a teen classic for a certain audience, but hardly easygoing stuff.
In 2015, Shipka appeared in four feature films, each very different from the last. She starred opposite fellow rising star Timothee Chalamet (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) in the indie thriller ONE & TWO, and lent her voice to WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE, a Japanese film from the beloved studio behind MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO.
Shipka’s third role that year was aspiring teen filmmaker Telulah in the indie comedy FANGIRL. The movie premiered on ABC Family, making it her only conventional role that year. Her fourth film released in 2015 was also the most interesting. It seemed to hint at her career’s future direction. In the horror drama THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER (above), Shipka plays a young woman attending a Catholic school, who is rumored to have devilish connections.
Forging Her Own Future
2017 and 2018 have been pretty major for Shipka. Things are only getting bigger and better from here. Following a recurring role as Bette Davis’ daughter on the FX series FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN, Shipka landed a show of her own. THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA, from the creator of RIVERDALE, is also loosely based on characters from Archie comics. Shipka stars as Sabrina Spellman (above), a teen witch struggling to balance her human life with her supernatural one.
Shipka will keep the horror vibe going in THE SILENCE, based on the Tim Lebbon novel of the same name. The drama reunites her with SABRINA co-star Miranda Otto for a thrilling story of one family’s fight to survive when a species of terrifying creatures emerge from beneath the earth and begin taking over the world. Forced to live in isolation, the family is confronted by the possibility that there may not be much of humanity left. It’s an appropriately dark and challenging story for Shipka, who consistently proves she’s up to any task.
THE SILENCE will arrive in theaters in early 2019.