For seven seasons, Kiernan Shipka was Sally Draper. As Mad Men’s first daughter, the actress (literally) grew up on screen holding her own in scenes opposite Jon Hamm and January Jones. By the end of the series’ run, Sally was an angst-ridden teen, ready to escape her parents’ shadow.
Now, Shipka is Telulah Farrow -- a platform-sporting, ripped T-wearing, heavy eyeliner-applicating high school student in Fan Girl, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival. The part is among several new roles -- including a sibling in the supernatural family drama, One and Two, and a scared teen in the upcoming horror flick February -- showcasing a new, mature actress that’s graduated from the hit AMC series.
Today, though, she’s a 15-year-old who lives with her parents in Los Angeles, and she never wants to move out. “I’m going to have to eventually, but not now,” Shipka tells ETonline by phone as she boards a plane from Los Angeles to New York City. “I don’t want to think about that now.”
For all her poise on screen and on the red carpet, her indelible fashion sense and her politician-like interview skills -- especially when faced with controversial topics -- Shipka is essentially a normal teen (with a serious wardrobe). And there are no lengths she won’t go to for ice cream.
ETonline: You’ve played a mid-20th century teen for so many years on Mad Men. How did it feel to jump into the modern day world of teenage-hood?
Kiernan Shipka: It was fun! It was a fun change of pace, too. I really enjoyed working on [Fan Girl], and I loved the script. It was actually my first time doing something and playing someone super modern in a long time. After Mad Men, I worked on another project about a family who lives in isolation [in One and Two, which premiered at Sundance]. They weren't too modern either, so this was really kind of a whole new thing.
And Flowers in the Attic -- that was another period piece. Despite the harsh reviews, are you glad you did that film? Did making a TV movie like that inform how you pick future roles?
For me, everything is driven by the material. Whether it's TV or it's film, my main concern is what the material is, like what I'm drawn to could be the people working on the project. That's always kind of the motivation behind things for me.
Your character in Fan Girl has the chance to win a filmmaking contest that Tina Fey judges and you were on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Will we see you come out of your comedy shell in future roles?
Tina's great. I think she's so nice, and funny, and talented and smart. I was so excited when she was totally willing to take part in the movie, and I've always been a huge fan of hers. I guess for me, my love of comedy has never been super secret, but I'd been on Mad Men for so long that [other people may have seen it that way]. I love improv and I love comedy, absolutely, but I love all genres.
Do you think that you might actively go for lighter roles now just for contrast?
No, I really like the dark worlds too. That's definitely not something that I want to steer away from.
Have you seen your Mad Men co-stars since all the finale parties and appearances?
We wrapped almost a year ago. We've kept up, which is nice. We're all great friends. I mean, when you work on a show for nine years hopefully everyone becomes really close. Now, even though we're not working on the same show every single day, there's still so much contact, because everybody's very close.
What from the show resonated with you about how women are treated?
It was great to be on a show that depicted women in such an honest, real way. There's so much depth and emotion in all the characters, and all the female characters are portrayed in a way where they're all on their different paths and they all have lives and problems and issues -- but at the core they're all very strong. Growing up as a young girl on the show, that could not have been more inspiring.
Do you see much change in the way women are treated now?
We’ve definitely come a long way since the ’60s, but there's still a ways to go. I think it's awesome that people are speaking up and speaking out and doing great things to make the world, and society [a better place for women]. I think it's an exciting time.
We’ve got to talk about your style, which is amazing. Do you pick your outfits out yourself or do you work with a stylist?
I work with a stylist -- Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson -- and we really love collaborating together. I'll send them photos of stuff that I see on Style.com and it's always a fun meet-up when we decide what I'm going to be wearing for a particular event.
How about today, did you dress yourself?
[Laughs] Yes, for everyday wear I wake up and put on overalls or whatever. That's my thing right now.
What fashion trends are you into right now?
I just took a college course called History of Western Dress -- I’m taking courses through Central Michigan University, they’ve got a great online program -- so I'm kind of obsessed with past trends right now. That’s what’s going on in my mind. I'm learning about the fashion from the time of Marie Antoinette and even from the 1960s -- a bunch of different eras. For current trends, I'm always a sucker for patterns. I like that they always tend to coordinate with whatever season it is. If it's summer, there's always some more fun bright patterns. In fall, a great plaid.
Your style has obviously been influenced by Mad Men.
Yes, absolutely. I think because I started the show when I was six and was just becoming interested in fashion. A large part of that is because I was working with Janie Bryant, our costume designer and seeing these magnificent outfits. It definitely sparked my interest -- just fashion in the general sense. My own style has gone through plenty of phases, but Mad Men was always something that influenced it and made me appreciate vintage clothing, and style, and the evolution of fashion.
And now you have a Coach bag designed for you.
It’s the Coach Swagger bag. You can buy it and then Coach encourages you to decorate it yourself and do all sorts of stuff with it. I decorated mine. There's no ‘Kiernan’ Coach bag out there to my knowledge!
In Fan Girl, there are so many references to social media, as it’s such a big part of the 2015 teen's life. And you’re pretty active as well, but it looks like you’ve left your Tumblr for greener pastures.
I used to be really into Tumblr, because you could just kind of re-blog stuff. Now I check Twitter -- but I'm so bad at it -- and I’m on Instagram. When I eat something that is very pretty, I'll let the world know. Besides that, I do a lot of scrolling, but I don't post too often.
Yes, we’ve noticed your #foodporn Instagrams. They’re amazing. Do you have a favorite restaurant in L.A., or a favorite dish?
It’s so hard to pick favorite restaurants and dishes! There's a place called Sapp Coffee Shop that has really good jade noodles. That just sprung to mind. I love Sqirl, because I love going there with my friends. It's really fun. Then we get ice cream a lot. I mean that's the thing that I really like. I once drove [east of L.A.] to Alta Dena for gelato. That's kind of my real obsession, and it was delicious. I think that’s still in L.A. County, right?
You’re definitely more into your food than you are into selfies. In Fan Girl, there's this great line about the art to taking a selfie. What’s your take on that?
I'm always approaching it differently. I don't take many selfies without other friends. It's always been group shots or just sending funny faces to people. That's my selfie game.
From your Twitter feed it looks like you’re friends with the musicians Sky Ferreira and HAIM.
I love the HAIM sisters -- I think they're so fun. I love their music, and they're also just such nice, fun people. Sky and I have never met, but we're friends via the Twitter, social media-verse. I think she's great.
Do you sing? Would you ever make an album?
Oh man, I'm trying to just focus on the acting right now, honestly. I do like singing, but I'm probably sticking with what I'm doing.
What's the most normal or abnormal thing about you as a teenager?
I never attended traditional school past the second grade. That’s pretty abnormal. Then the normal thing is pretty normal -- I just love hanging out with my friends and all that jazz.