Special To The Dispatch
BERLIN — Eastern Shore pride runs deep in Maryland and Delaware, particularly when local accomplishments garner national attention, including local rising stars like Delaware actor and Worcester Prep student Quinn McColgan.
At just 12 years old, McColgan’s resume is already noteworthy, with dozens of commercials under her belt, along with five TV shows and five films, including her latest big screen debut, “Non-Stop”, starring Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore.
Quinn took some time last week on the set of her latest film in Budapest for an online interview, covering everything from her favorite local restaurants to inspiring actors.
Q. What is the first memory you have of knowing that you wanted to be an actor?
A.I guess it was after my first acting job. This wasn’t something I knew a lot about until I actually tried it out. I always remember watching TV shows with kids in them and thinking, “I could be in that show, I could do that.” But I never really understood it until I got to do it.
My parents and grandparents tell me stories of how I used to stand in front of the TV belting Mary Poppins tunes and that I knew every line that Mary Poppins said, including in her British accent.
Q. So far, what has been your favorite acting project?
It’s really hard to say. I have enjoyed all of them but for different reasons. In “Non-Stop,” I got to do my own stunts and that was super cool. Mildred Pierce had such a fun crew, they became like my family and I made such wonderful lifelong friends there. I still keep close touch with the girl who played my sister, Morgan Turner, my stand-in Devin, and my favorite boom guy ever, Paul.
“UnBurden” was a quick project to film, but I really loved my character and the story.
My favorite commercial was for the Gap. We shot it with Carl Byrd & Co. in a candy shop and got to sing and dance like rock stars. But so far my favorite role is the one I am filming now in “Welcome to Harmony.” I love how I get to be a fun loving kid, a scared girl, and super emotional all in one role. Plus, I am in almost every scene, my biggest role so far.
Q. You’ve been fortunate enough to work with some big names in the business (Liam Neeson, KateWinslet, Julianne Moore, etc…), what is the best advice that you have received from a veteran actor?
A. Kate Winslet showed me what it was like to be the best in the business and why she is so admired. Having her be the first big star I ever worked with was even more cool that I think I realized at the time. I was really young, and I didn’t even know who she was before I got the job. My parents showed me Titanic and Finding Neverland so I could understand who I was going to work with. She didn’t say these exact words, but something to the point of “If this is something you really enjoy, then go for it, but always give it all you’ve got and have fun doing it”.
I do love acting and getting to make movies, and I always try to make it fun and give it my all. The most important thing I learned from her was that it takes everyone on set to make a great film. Every crew member has an important role to play and that you should treat each one of them with respect and admiration.
Q. When you are back home and not on set or traveling for work, what do you typically enjoy doing?
A. I do all the things that most 12-year-olds enjoy. I love going to the beach, hanging with my friends, playing on my local lacrosse and soccer teams. I do love my piano and singing lessons too. When I have quiet time, I love to read and write.
Q. What are some of your favorite local places to hang out with friends or family?
A. I love going to the movies, of course. I like the old time feeling of going to the Clayton Theater in Dagsboro, Del. In my town, I love to eat at the Georgia House and Blue Water Grill. At the beach I love Mancini’s and OceanSide Pizza. During the summer, I usually meet up with friends at the beach in Ocean City. In the winter I like to ice skate at the Carousel Hotel.
Q. How difficult is it to balance a “normal” school life and a professional life?
A. When I am contracted for a job, they also contract a tutor that is with me on set. This time I have an Australian teacher who lives here in Budapest. So when I am between filming scenes and when they are moving cameras and such, I go back to my tutor. So, I do get my schooling, just not in my regular classroom setting. So far, it has been pretty manageable.
I go to Worcester Prep and all my teachers have been incredibly supportive of me and most are my best fans. They are all great about getting me up to date on what is happening in the classroom so that when I come back I can blend right back in. I do miss school when I am on set, that is one of the hardest things about going away for a film. That and being away from my family
Q. Who is your favorite actor right now? If you could work with any actor or director, who would it be?
A. My favorite actress is Emma Watson. I just love the Harry Potter movies. I also admire Jennifer Lawrence’s work. Wow, there are so many that I would love to work with. I am so young and there are many films that I am not allowed to see yet, so that is super hard. I guess Chris Columbus, since he has directed some of my favorite kid movies like Harry Potter, Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone, Percy Jackson. And who wouldn’t jump to work with Steven Spielberg? As far as actors, I’d like to hang with Jennifer Lawrence and maybe go get milkshakes. She so down to earth, but can really get into character.
Q. Fast-forward 10 years, where do you see yourself?
A. I hope to have just completed college, but still be acting too. Someday, I would love to win an acting award. I would like to try out some of the other jobs in film making too, maybe even write screen play.
Q. Describe “Non-Stop” for us. How was this role different from past roles?
A. “Non-Stop” is an action thriller that all takes place on an airplane. I play Becca, a passenger on the plane. Each role I have played has been a very different character, but with a side of Quinn in them too. Becca is a little girl who is very afraid of flying alone and she finds a bit on comfort in Bill, played by Liam Neeson. In this role, I had to show a lot of emotion, like being scared and having to cry. One very cool thing in this role is I was able to do my own stunt work. When you see the film, you will understand why that is so cool.
10.What are you currently working on?
A. I am currently in Budapest, Hungary and working on a film called “Welcome to Harmony”. In this film, I play a character named Lu, who is Jack’s (Jeffrey Donovan) daughter. I live in a very strange world where I think there is no one else except my father and a neighbor, Patrick (Matthew Fox) who I have never spoken to, but only watched out of my house window. Unlike most children, I live a very sheltered life because my father is very afraid of something that once invaded the world he once knew. But just like most children, I am curious.
(The writer is the Associate Editor for ShoreBread.com.)