How Stranger Things’ breakout season four star Sadie Sink started her acting career in FIFTH GRADE


Running up that hill to stardom: Stranger Things’ season four breakout star Sadie Sink, 20, began her career on Broadway as a FIFTH GRADER, has been tipped as ‘the next Meryl Streep’, and is a Gen-Z fashion darling who avoids social media

  • Sadie, who was born in Brenham, Texas, rose to fame for playing the savvy, skateboard-wielding loner, Max in Stranger Things, making her debut in the Netflix series’ second season 
  • However she has received wide praise for her performance in Stranger Things’ recently-released fourth season, in which her character battles psychological torture at the hands of a demon
  • Many are tipping her for an Emmy Award nomination for best supporting actress. But while Sadie has shot to global stardom in the Netflix show, she actually boasts an impressive resume of roles prior to the series 
  • The actress, who is now 20, got her start in the 2012 Broadway revival of Annie and she then went on to star in royal-focused play The Audience with Helen Mirren in 2015
  • She also appeared on-screen in The Glass House with Brie Larson in 2017 and Eli with Naomi Watts in 2019 
  • Sadie also received critical acclaim for her role in the Netflix slasher film Fear Street and she played a young version of Taylor Swift in the popstar’s music video for her song All Too Well 
  • The young actress is known for her mature attitude and her avoidance of all social media

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Sadie Sink transformed from your average teenager from Brenham, Texas, to an accomplished and critically-acclaimed actress whose work in Stranger Things season four inspired the resurgence of Kate Bush’s 1985 hit Running Up that Hill – and has helped the young star to garner early Emmy Awards buzz.

Even though she has attained a celebrity status, the 20-year-old actress has managed to to stay grounded, her maturity truly shining through.

She supports Gen Z’s progressive nature in some ways like making the decision to become vegan when she was 14 years old. However, she branches away from her generation in other ways. The young star abstains from social media when she can – removing apps like Instagram from her phone.

Sadie already has an impressive resume for her young age. She got her start on the stage during which she starred in the 2012 Broadway revival of Annie and acted alongside Helen Mirren in The Audience in 2015.

She also made some appearances on the small screen in Blue Bloods, American Odyssey and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

The teen actress also appeared in the 2016 film Chuck alongside big names like Naomi Watts and Elisabeth Moss.

Sadie, aged 11, played the title role of Annie in the 2012 revival

Sadie on the red carpet in 2017 when  she was 15 years old

Sadie has accomplished a lot since her time in Annie as a 20-year-old actress, picture d above

Sadie went from starring in Annie on Broadway when she was 13 years old (pictured left) to booking Stranger Things in 2017 (pictured center) to eyeing an Emmy nomination for her work in Stranger Things in 2022 (pictured right)

Sadie's Stranger Things co-star Winona Ryder called the actress, pictured at 20 years old above, the next Meryl Streep

Sadie’s Stranger Things co-star Winona Ryder called the actress, pictured at 20 years old above, the next Meryl Streep

Sadie was featured in the TV series The Odyssey in 2015 when she was 13 years old

Sadie acted alongside Naomi Watts and Elisabeth Moss in Chuck in 2016 at 14 years old

Sadie in the 2019 film Eli when she was 17 years old

In her early teens, spent her time off the Broadway stage filming for projects like the 2015 series The Odyssey (pictured left), 2016 film Chuck (pictured center) and the 2019 film Eli (pictured right)

After returning to school for a year of ‘normalcy,’ she auditioned for and landed her breakout role as Max in Stranger Things in 2017.

She also appeared in The Glass Castle that same year along with Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson. 

Recently, she has began to make a name for herself as a ‘scream queen,’ starring in the 2019 horror Eli and the critically-acclaimed 2021 horror trilogy Fear Street.

Her talents have even crossed over to the music industry, starring in Taylor Swift’s 2021 short film for her song All Too Well as a young version of the Grammy Award-winning artist. 

The young actress is destined for greatness. Just ask her Stranger Things co-star Winona Ryder who told E! News: ‘Sadie is like Liv Ullmann. She’s going to be like Meryl Streep.’

Here’s everything you need to know about Sadie’s rise to success and stardom. 

Where it all began: Budding actress landed her breakout role on Broadway when she was in fifth grade

Sadie, who went on to star in Annie on Broadway in 2013 as pictured above, knew that acting was 'what she did best' when she was just six years old

Sadie, who went on to star in Annie on Broadway in 2013 as pictured above, knew that acting was ‘what she did best’ when she was just six years old

In order to land on Broadway by the fifth grade, Sadie had to discover her passion for performing early on – and she certainly did. She knew it was ‘what she did best’ when she was just six years old.

‘Acting has always been a passion of mine. It was totally my decision to enter this business,’ she told Vogue in 2019. 

She landed her first lead role when she was seven years old. The aspiring actress had begged her mom to take her to a community theater production of The Secret Garden. Even though she didn’t meet the age requirement, she still ended up booking the role. 

‘It was then that I decided that I wanted to stick with this, and do it properly,’ she told Vogue in 2022.

She and her older brother Mitchell served as each others’ motivation to pursue theater while growing up in a town that she described as a Friday Night Lights-esque, football-centric town.

‘For some reason, Mitchell and I had this gravitation towards performing arts—musical theatre, specifically,’ she told the outlet. 

‘We could always be found in the back room streaming Broadway bootlegs on YouTube or watching Tony performances. It was just this weird obsession that we shared.’

Even though she’s extra close with her brother, she also values her relationship with her rugby coach dad, Casey; math teacher mom Lori; older brothers, Spencer and Caleb and younger sister Jacey.

‘My family and I are very close. My best friend in the world is my brother Mitchell,’ she said in her 2022 Glamour interview.

‘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.’

Even though she has described her family as ‘sports-centered,’ they supported her in her decision to become an actress. 

Once she made the decision to pursue theatre professionally, it didn’t take long for her to make it big. She was initially cast in the Broadway revival in Annie in 2013 as a standby for the roles Annie, Tessie, Duffy, July and Kate. 

Later that year, Sadie landed the show’s lead role as she replaced Lilla Crawford as Annie. 

Sadie went from being a standby for a number of orphans to playing the lead role of Annie when she was 11 years old in 2013

Sadie went from being a standby for a number of orphans to playing the lead role of Annie when she was 11 years old in 2013

Sadie acted alongside Helen Mirren on stage when she was 13 years old

Sadie said that Helen Mirren was 'such a nice person' when she worked with her in The Audience in 2015

Sadie said that Helen Mirren was ‘such a nice person’ when she worked with her in The Audience in 2015 at 13 years old

Sadie left her Broadway career behind her after The Audience to go to school and 'feel normal'

Sadie left her Broadway career behind her after The Audience to go to school and ‘feel normal’

Adorable! Sadie and her brother Mitchell in the early 2000s

Sadie took her younger sister Jacey to Disneyland in 2019

Sadie and her big bro Mitchell celebrated Easter in 2021

Sadie says she’s ‘super close’ with her family as seen in a Halloween picture of her and Mitchell from the early 2000s (pictured left), a Disneyland picture with her younger sis Jacey from 2019 (pictured center) and celebrating Easter (pictured right) 

She then went on to play Young Elizabeth in the 2015 Broadway production of The Audience.

At just 13 years old, she found herself acting beside Helen Mirren herself. 

‘Our first rehearsal with her, I was like, “OK, I gotta get this right!” But it wasn’t scary after that. She’s such a nice person and I don’t really get nervous around her,’ she told BroadwayBuzz of working with the legendary actress. 

She then put a pause on her acting career so she could go back to school and ‘feel normal.’ But that didn’t last for long.

‘After my last Broadway role, I decided to go to school for a while because I wanted to interact with kids my age and feel normal. I got to do that for a year or two right before the audition for Stranger Things came in,’ she told Vogue in 2022.

Just because she has traded her theatre career for Hollywood, it doesn’t mean she has left her Broadway days behind for good.

Reflecting upon her career, Sadie has said she will always appreciate her time on the stage. ‘Theatre was such a big part of my life growing up,’ said in her Glamour 2022 interview. 

From the stage to the screen: Sadie lands role in season two of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things and becomes an instant star 

Sadie was in Stranger Things season two as Max Mayfield when she was just 14 years old, pictured above

Sadie was in Stranger Things season two as Max Mayfield when she was just 14 years old, pictured above

After her stint on Broadway, Sadie landed her breakout role as Max Mayfield in the multi-award winning Netflix series Stranger Things. 

The actress joined the sci-fi thriller in its second season, landing the role when she was just 14 years old.

‘I didn’t cry, but I was definitely shocked,’ she told Vogue in 2019 of when she learned she booked the gig. ‘As soon as I got the call, I knew my life was going to drastically change.’ 

‘It was so exciting though. I think I was most excited about the character. I love Max and I was excited to bring a character like her to life.’ 

In the series, Maxine ‘Max’ Mayfield arrives to Hawkins with her volatile and abusive step-brother Billy. Her character is notoriously abrasive, keeps to herself and has thick skin – not exactly the words Sadie would use to describe herself.

‘It’s weird because our personalities are poles apart,’ she said in her Vogue 2022 interview. ‘But the deepest part of myself really connects to Max. 

‘With her, what you see is what you get. I’m not necessarily like her outwardly, but I value loyalty, and she’s incredibly loyal.’

Even though she had ‘an idea of what to expect because ‘the show was already such a success’ she still had to adjust to life in the limelight which includes photoshoots, press tours and more.

‘It was very overwhelming, especially because I was a new character on a show that is so loved,’ she said of how she felt at the time during her 2022 Glamour interview. She admitted that ‘all the attention kind of scared me off.’

Thankfully, her co-stars including Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Noah Schnapp and Caleb McLaughlin had her back.

‘It was just great to have a solid support group in the rest of the cast. We are all going through the same things at the same time and there’s a comfort in knowing you’re surrounded by people who have your best interests at heart and won’t let you get caught up in anything.’  

Fortunately, she managed to keep up with her new lifestyle. 

‘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.’

Even though she was filming for a high-profile Netflix show, she continued to attend school like an average teenager. Naturally, her notoriety affected her high school experience. 

‘The only really face-to-face experience I’ve ever had with [labels] is when Stranger Things started to blow up and being at school still, dealing with kids, how they treated you a little bit differently.’ 

‘And not treating you as the person that you’ve always been, but treating you as this, “new actress who’s on this really cool show.” That was an adjustment!’ she  said in her 2022 Glamour interview. 

Sadie says she connects to her character Max's loyalty, pictured from season three with her co-star Millie

'It was just great to have a solid support group in the rest of the cast,' she said of her Stranger Things castmates, Finn, Caleb and Gaten

Cast bonding! ‘It was just great to have a solid support group in the rest of the cast,’ she said of her Stranger Things castmates, including Millie Bobby Brown (left) and Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin, and Gaten Matarazzo (right)

Sadie claims her Stranger Things cast and crew,  pictured above, always has 'your best interests at heart'

Sadie claims her Stranger Things cast and crew,  pictured above, always has ‘your best interests at heart’

She has connected with her Stranger Things castmates, like Priah Ferguson and Gaten pictured above, over the years

Sadie, like her castmates, has warned that season four takes a dark turn, pictured at the premiere with Gaten

Sadie, like her castmates, has warned that season four takes a dark turn, pictured on the right at the premiere with Gaten opposed to season three, pictured left with Priah Ferguson and Gaten

In season two, Max arrived in Hawkins with her volatile and abusive step-brother Billy. Even though Max kept her distance and shut herself off from her fellow classmates at first, her reputation as being a record-breaking arcade player earned her a spot in Lucas, Dustin and Mike’s friend group.

By the time season three came around, Max and Lucas were dating and she found a close companion in Eleven. Her more compassionate and loyal side came out during season three but it came to a tragic end for Max when Billy sacrificed himself to save Eleven. 

Now, Stranger Things is in its fourth season. The much-anticipated series dropped on May 27, 2022, after over a year of postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The stars of the series had teased that the fourth season was going down a darker course and doesn’t have that same rag-tag group of friends vibe, and Sadie has certainly backed that notion. 

‘The biggest difference this season is just the distance between everyone and how we’ve all been split up,’ Sadie said in her 2022 Glamour interview. 

‘The energy has shifted a little this time and things are a lot darker, but I also loved that we got to explore more human emotions in this season. We’re tackling trauma and everything ties in so brilliantly with the show.’

Her character Max has especially gone down a dark path – even to the point of possibly leading to her own demise.  

‘She’s still processing Billy’s death, but in typical Max fashion, she kind of shuts herself off from everything, including her friends,’ she explained to the outlet. 

‘She’s a lot more closed off and separated from the other kids this season. In fact, things start off rough for her and they just keep on getting worse.’

In fact, her performance even inspired the resurgence of Kate Bush’s 1985 hit Running Up That Hill. During season four, Max latches onto the song and her fixation with it inadvertently ends up saving her life.

Running Up That Hill is just a small part of Max’s emotional journey this season, and Sadie was intent on doing it justice. 

‘I wanted to do something that felt truthful to Max and who she is and the writing on this season was just so on point with that, which helped a lot,’ she told the outlet.

The 20-year-old has been playing Max for five years now and she has not only come into the role more but the role has helped her come into herself over the years. 

‘For me, playing Max, who is such an outspoken and bold character has really helped build my own confidence up,’ she told the outlet.

‘Throughout middle school and high school, I don’t think there was ever a moment where I wasn’t doubting myself or feeling insecure and just trying to find myself.’

Now, her work in Stranger Things season four has people tuned into how skilled of an actress Sadie is and rallying for her to be nominated for an Emmy for her work. 

Seizing stardom beyond Stranger Things: Actress has become a reigning ‘scream queen’ with role in Netflix thriller – after starring in Taylor Swift’s music video

Sadie starred in Fear Street Part 2: 1978 in 2021

Sadie played a young version of Taylor Swift in All Too Well

After booking her breakout role in Stranger Things, she landed roles in Fear Street (pictured left) and Taylor Swift’s music video All Too Well (pictured right)

While Sadie is still working on Stranger Things, she also has been working on plenty of other projects on the side.

Arguably her biggest project she took on while filming for Stranger Things was the slasher trilogy titled Fear Street.

She was referenced in Fear Street Part 1: 1994 but took on the lead role in the next installment, Fear Street Part 2: 1978, as Ziggy Berman who lives to tell of the evil forces who plagued the characters in the first part.

This character has some similarities to Max from Stranger Things as she described Ziggy as ‘a very aggressive and intense character who’s mad at the world’ while speaking with MTV News.

Inversely, she felt it ‘was important to me was to go and find moments that she was a little bit softer, and the moments that showed more of her vulnerabilities.’ 

But she sees Ziggy as a much more ‘mature’ character than Max. 

Sadie Sink starred in Fear Street Part 2: 1978 in 2021

Sadie played Ziggy, an angry teenager who lived to survive her town’s curse, in Fear Street

Sadie starred in Taylor Swift's short film for her song All Too Well and said that 'to bring such an iconic song to life was just an honor'

Sadie starred in Taylor Swift’s short film for her song All Too Well and said that ‘to bring such an iconic song to life was just an honor’

 ‘Ziggy is very misunderstood and wants to be seen as an adult because she’s wise beyond her years. So the role is definitely more mature than my work than I’ve done on Stranger Things. It was stepping into something different,’ she told the outlet. 

She also had a dream come true when she got to work with Taylor Swift in the 2021 short film for her song All Too Well.

 ‘It was really special to me. Taylor is someone I’ve always wanted to work with, but never thought I would because I didn’t think our paths would ever cross,’ she told Glamour of the experience in 2022.  

‘She’s such an incredible human being, so smart and so grounded. To have her as a friend, as a director, as a mentor and to be able to bring such an iconic song to life was just an honor.’

Glow up! Sadie has become a fashion icon over the years and evolved from eager child star to a confident woman 

Sadie used to wear dresses on the red carpet, as pictured in 2019

She has since transitioned to wearing stylish trousers, as pictured in 2022

Sadie used to wear dresses on the red carpet, as pictured left in 2019, and has since transitioned to wearing stylish trousers, as pictured right in 2022

The Stranger Things star has certainly made her mark on the fashion industry. Over the years, she has graced the covers of Vogue and Glamour while giving fashion tips to InStyle.

She first stepped onto the runway in 2018 during Paris Fashion Week during the Undercover show. She has also worked for notorious designers like Kate Spade and Miu Miu.

Her personal style has also evolved over the years. While she used to adhere to the typical template of pretty dresses on red carpets, she has now made trousers her go-to look.

However, in both her fashion partnerships and personal style, she is always willing to experiment.

‘As with anyone, when you get older, your style starts to change,’ she told InStyle. ‘I’ve always been very open to trying new things, but as I’m getting older, I’m even more down to just try whatever.’ 

Over the course of her booming career, Sadie has been forced to grow up fast and mature if she wanted to keep up with it. While there was naturally an adjustment period, Sadie certainly stepped up to the challenge.

‘I think definitely growing up in this industry when you’re starting out as a kid, at least for me, I’ve always been very timid, even with things like interviews when I was first being introduced into that world and I was very timid and very nervous,’ she said in her 2021 Glamour interview. 

‘Then as I’ve become more comfortable with it, you start to find your voice and get in the groove of things. That is really empowering for me, just to see how far I’ve come and how much more of a voice I feel like I have now compared to when I first started out.’  

Now, barely an adult, Sadie has to make the transition from child star to adult actress – a transition that has been known to break some. 

She explained:  ‘It’s been a huge adjustment, just working as a child actor and the strict hours, you have to have a guardian, and your parents are always with you.’

‘Going from that to learning how to work as an adult, dealing with being on your own and taking care of yourself, that’s been a huge turning point. But also it’s proven to me that I can do this, I’m ready and it makes me hopeful for my future.’ 

Sadie has said that her career as an adult has 'been a huge adjustment' but she feels she is 'ready' for the transition from child star to acting as an adult

Sadie has said that her career as an adult has ‘been a huge adjustment’ but she feels she is ‘ready’ for the transition from child star to acting as an adult

'I have never been very active on social media,' she told Vogue in 2019, a year before this picture of the actress at the 2020 Golden Globes

‘I have never been very active on social media,’ she told Vogue in 2019, a year before this picture of the actress at the 2020 Golden Globes

She has clarified that she's not 'anti-social media' but just 'believes in moderation' in 2022, as pictured above

She has clarified that she’s not ‘anti-social media’ but just ‘believes in moderation’ in 2022, as pictured above

Fortunately, the starlet seems to have a good head on her shoulders. She refuses to get wrapped up in the world of social media and the cyberbullying that comes with it.

Over the years, she has commented about how she keeps her social media activity to a minimum. 

‘I have never been very active on social media. It is important to engage with fans, but I also feel as though some people get too wrapped up in the world of Instagram and Twitter,’ she told Vogue in 2019. 

‘There are a lot of amazing things about social media, but there is also a very bad side to it.’ 

‘I don’t have the app or any social media apps on my phone. I’ll download it sometimes to check in, but I don’t really like to associate with any of the negative things on social media, ‘she told Glamour three years later, in 2022. 

‘It took me a while to realize that social media probably isn’t the best place for me, but now I really don’t indulge in it much,’ she said, adding, ‘It’s impossible not to worry about those things.’

She has made sure to iterate that she’s not ‘anti-social media’ but just ‘believes in moderation.’

Unfortunately, social media or not, the industry Sadie is in can be the source of insecurities that take years to get over.

 ‘Growing up in this industry, you always kind of compare yourself to others,’ Sadie told Glamour. ‘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.’

‘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.’

And that’s just what Sadie will continue to do – gain more experience. In fact, she just wrapped on a project titled The Whale. 

‘That was probably the best experience I’ve ever had on a film set,’ she teased to Glamour. ‘I’m really excited for it to come out.’ 

She also aspires to return to her roots and perform on the stage. 

‘I really want to go back to the stage very soon, so I’m hoping that happens. I haven’t been in theatre since I was 13,’ she told the outlet. 

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