EXCLUSIVE | 'The Bad Seed Returns' star Ella Dixon praises McKenna Grace for 'raising the bar' for her as an actor
Lifetime is one of the most-watched networks in the US and fans eagerly wait for it to drop new titles as they are engaging and fun to watch. In 2018, the network took everyone by storm with the movie 'The Bad Seed' starring Rob Lowe and McKenna Grace in pivotal roles. Although the movie received mixed reviews from critics, fans were in awe of Grace's performance and saw the movie in large numbers. The film was released on September 9, 2018, and a total of 1.87 million viewers tuned in to watch the premiere, making it one of the highest-watched premieres in the network's history. Since then, the movie has gained cult status. So, it doesn't come as a shock that Lifetime greenlit a sequel to the 2018 movie, titled 'The Bad Seed Returns'.
The sequel sees McKenna Grace reprising the role of evil Emma and wreaking havoc in people's lives. However, she's not alone this time around and has an equal match in the form of Kat. Now, Kat is not evil, but she has gone through so much in life that she's hardened up and so vulnerable. Kat is being played by the debutant Ella Dixon and whatever we have seen of her in the trailers, we know that she's going to leave her mark on the viewers when the Lifetime movie releases.
The 16-year-old actor has traveled the world and studied acting in places such as Paris, Vancouver, and Los Angeles. Born in Los Angeles, Dixon now lives in Vancouver and has starred in a limited series titled 'Two Sentence Horror Stories'. Lifetime's 'The Bad Seed Returns', which airs on September 5, 2022, will be her first feature film and she is excited for the viewers to watch the movie. MEAWW caught up with Dixon to talk about her career, how she began, and her co-star McKenna Grace.
MEAWW: Congratulations Ella on the release of 'The Bad Seed Returns', but before we talk about the movie, we would love to know more about you. So, you are quite new to the industry and this is your first Hollywood feature film. As of now, the journey that you have gone through to make it here, how's that been?
Dixon: It’s been such a blessing to be able to work on this movie. I think, starting out, I made sure to keep that curiosity and keep that playfulness in me. I just love what I do and I have since I was so little. Performing, acting, and storytelling, in general, have been so joy to me all the time. So, being able to do this professionally is a blessing and an honor for me. I am really excited for the audience to see ‘The Bad Seed Returns’.
MEAWW: Did you always want to pursue acting? When was the first time you realized that this could be a viable career option?
Dixon: I was like 12 years old and I was a massive fan of Tatiana Maslany's ‘Orphan Black’. I had the opportunity to meet Tatiana and she was just so gracious and down to earth. That gave me a glimpse of what professional acting is like. And on top of that, I got to see ‘Hamilton’ that weekend on Broadway. So that was like a cherry on top for me. So, it was these two experiences that solidified that this was a world I need to be a part of and this feels like a home to me.
MEAWW: Coming to 'The Bad Seed Returns', you are playing Kat in the movie. Can you tell us more about your character?
Dixon: So, my character, Kat, has been through a lot in life. She’s very tough, very resilient and she knows Emma from before. She knows who and what exactly Emma is. When we see her in this movie, she’s on a mission and because she’s been through a lot in life I think, she’s a lot more vulnerable than she lets on. It’s that vulnerability that’s driving her to go head to head with Emma and audiences are going to see how that relationship plays out as these two girls face off.
MEAWW: What was the first thought you had in your mind when you heard about your character Kat? And, do you think that Kat is similar to you?
Dixon: I believe I brought a lot of my own vulnerability to my character. Our director, Louise Archambault, encouraged me to really, really be vulnerable with this character until the softer parts of myself came out because it’s a universal truth with everybody, especially as an actor to understand that everything we do as humans, stems from that. And so, bringing that to Kat really helped me understand the character and connect with her more. I’d say the vulnerability part is quite similar in both of us.
MEAWW: You are working with such a talented star cast that includes McKenna Grace? So how was your experience while working with her?
Dixon: Oh my god, McKenna Grace is amazing. She’s such a gifted actor, a gifted writer, and so fun to hang out with. She helped me in raising the bar for sure as my scene partner. Even between takes and off set, being able to hang out with her and laugh with her. Occasionally, there were some heavy tones throughout the movie, so to be able to have those laughs between the takes was such a joy. I remember there was one scene where we had already shot our footage and we were all really tired. The scene had me, McKenna, Marlowe Zimmerman, and Gabrielle Bee, we are all eating by the cafeteria and they had blueberries, I think. Throughout the day, they kept stealing each other’s blueberries (laughs) and I could hear the laughs because I was on the other side of the cafeteria. There was a moment, off camera, where she had to look at me and we could hear all the girls laughing in the background because of stealing the blueberries. It was so hard not to laugh. It was one of the most intense try-not-to-laugh eye contact I have ever made with anyone in my life. Moments like that made everything better and McKenna helped in making those moments memorable.
MEAWW: Any fun memory that you will never forget when you were shooting?
Dixon: That stealing of blueberries was an amazing moment. We really became close from the beginning. There was never an awkward stage where we trying to figure out like 'Okay, there’s a new person'. We all kind of bonded right from the start and that made filming so much easier. We could go back to our screen rooms and laugh. It never felt like work, we were just like teenagers hanging out and having fun making a movie.
MEAWW: Your Instagram account also says you're a writer, so how long have you been writing, and what genres or topics do you enjoy writing about? Have any of your works been published yet?
Dixon: I have been writing since I was very young and it was a way to express myself, apart from acting. About three years ago, I transitioned into screenwriting and I have fallen in love with it. Recently, I just completed a five-part mini-series. It hasn't been produced as of now, but hopefully, someday we can get that produced and the world get to see that project. I am really excited about it.
MEAWW: In 2017, you debuted with a limited series titled 'Two Sentence Horror Stories'. Since then, what has changed in you as an actor?
Dixon: Honestly, I am growing up and developing as a person and as an artist. I think I am beginning to understand who I am and I am 16, I have so much more to learn (laughs). But I think, just in terms of who I am, I am really becoming more comfortable with myself as an artist and I am more willing to take risks, both in life and in my career. That’s the biggest thing and it’s really exciting.
MEAWW: Any new projects that fans should be excited about?
Dixon: Honestly, I am auditioning and reading scripts. I am looking to get my limited series produced and as far as whatever comes next for me, I am open to whatever the world has in store for me. Hopefully, it’s a role that demands the best in me. I am just really excited to see what the future holds for me.