Sadie Sink is GLAMOUR’s June cover star: ‘Playing Max, who is such an outspoken and bold character, has really helped build my own confidence up’
WATCH: Sadie Sink on mental health, playing Max in Stranger Things and her friendship with Taylor Swift.
In 2017, Sadie joined Netflix’s Stranger Things, taking on the role of Maxine ‘Max’ Mayfield from season two of the ’80s teen sci-fi drama. A lot has happened since then: milestone birthdays, a slew of fashion campaigns and movie roles (including a project with Taylor Swift), red-carpet appearances, award shows and a strong 16.2 million Instagram following are just a few of her many accomplishments. Still, she’s only just getting her foot in, and while Sadie has seamlessly dodged the longstanding curse of burnout that comes with being a very young star in Hollywood, her new life wasn’t exactly easy to adjust to. “When the show was first announced, I was 14 and all the attention kind of scared me off,” she confesses to me, on set for her GLAMOUR cover shoot on a spring day in Queens, New York. “Things around me started changing, but I never changed. I’d be flying to LA for the Golden Globes one day and then be right back at home with my mom telling me to take the trash out the next.”
Born in Brenham, Texas to a close-knit suburban family including her rugby coach dad, Casey, maths teacher mum Lori and four siblings (she has three brothers and a little sister), this sense of duality is what has kept Sadie’s feet firmly on the ground and away from the toxic environments child stars have historically found themselves in. “My family and I are very close. My best friend in the world is my brother Mitchell,” Sadie tells me. “We’ve obviously known each other my whole life and we trust each other, and we’re open and honest with one another. That’s super important to me. It’s a very special bond.”
She’s humble but confident, and when it comes to work, she means business. On camera, she’s a natural, though that doesn’t come as a surprise. Sadie spent her childhood performing on Broadway thanks to her mother, who recognised her talent after watching her daughter recreate scenes from High School Musical at home with her brother. She put her in a theatre school in Houston, their neighbouring city where Sadie was subsequently discovered. She landed her first role on Broadway in Annie (2012) where she played the titular role – a gig big enough for her whole family to relocate to New York City to help Sadie pursue her career. “My family has always been so supportive of me and my career,” she says. “Theatre was such a big part of my life growing up.” In 2015, she got yet another big role playing a young Queen Elizabeth II on stage in The Audience (2015) alongside Academy Award-winning Helen Mirren. She has since worked with the likes of Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson in The Glass Castle (2017), Liev Schreiber, Elisabeth Moss and Naomi Watts in 2016’s Chuck (released as The Bleeder in the UK) and posed for luxury fashion and beauty campaigns including Chopard and Givenchy. Already, her CV rivals those twice her age but self-doubt and imposter syndrome take no prisoners, especially for an actor on the rise. “Growing up in this industry, you always kind of compare yourself to others,” Sadie says. “That’s when you start doubting your abilities and those were my biggest insecurities, particularly in terms of coming into my own as an actor.” Years of practice, however, has helped her quieten self-critique and external pressures. “As you get more experience, it becomes less about the competition and thinking ‘Oh my God, am I good enough?’ and more about finding yourself and drowning out the noise that comes with being in this industry.”