It was clear from the first episode of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, another one of Netflix's hit shows we'll never get enough of, that frontrunner Kiernan Shipka was born for the screen. Her time as our favorite teenage witch has proved her acting prowess wasn't just a fluke during her eight-year role as Sally Draper on Mad Men or the other movies and shows she's starred in, voiced or had a cameo in. She's definitely got the power(s), and we'd happily watch her take on any performance.
Her rise to stardom in the witching world matched her jump to unprecedented levels of fame in the mortal Hollywood world, especially after the premiere of CAOS, and there's plenty more to know about Kiernan than what spells she can cast, what demons she's chasing or what wicked romances she's getting herself into. Kiernan's only 19 years old and she's accomplished more than a lot of us will in a lifetime. She's made a name for herself, but we love getting to know about the person underneath that name too. From her favorite karaoke numbers to her thoughts on going to college and everything in between, there's a lot to know about the actress. Here are 30 of our favorite facts you didn't know about Kiernan Shipka.
Not everyone can say they knew what they wanted to be when they grew up when they were little. Kiernan Shipka can say she knew at five months. Well, sort of. Even though she probably has no recollection of the events, the star got her official start as an extra on the hit hospital drama, ER, when she was a baby. She was born in Chicago in 1999, close to where the show was both fictionally based and often filmed. We'd like to give a big thanks to parents John and Erin Shipka for giving us this moment and setting both Kiernan and us up for a lifetime of quality pop culture.
If you know you want to be an actress at five months old, well, we guess it doesn't take long to make the big trek to Hollywood after. Kiernan made the move to Los Angeles with her family at the ripe young age of six, knowing full well what she was meant to do and what she wanted. We love her conviction and her parents' willingness to let her follow her dreams, even if it meant packing up the house and moving all the way west. That's an awesome amount of parental support and probably one of the reasons the young address had such a great upbringing in a crazy world. We think it's worked out pretty well.
Kiernan has said time and time again that her dream was to be a Disney kid. We think she managed pretty well without it (eight years on an award-winning drama will do that), but that doesn't mean she didn't still watch Disney Channel on the regular like the rest of us. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, the star said that none other than The Suite Life of Zack and Cody stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse were her childhood idols, and that she feels lucky to know them now. We can't say we blame her. Who wouldn't want to be on a show where kids run rampant in a swanky hotel while running away from tortured and lovable Mr. Moesby? We think the child actress would've fit wonderfully on this Disney Channel show, but we're glad we got to see her grow her acting chops on Mad Men instead.
Melissa Joan Hart's Sabrina Spellman walked so Kiernan Shipka's Brina could (literally, and without a broom) fly. The TGIF hit show Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a light-hearted '90s comedy that blessed our television sets every week. However, it was a little before the current Brina's era. She was only four when the show went off the air. So, when it came time to try on the broom and hat for size, our leading lady hadn't really seen the original. In an interview with Elle, Kiernan said she preferred to rely on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comics instead as they more accurately prepared her for the plot of her show as well as the wildly differentiating vibes.
It's clear that acting talent was obvious in Kiernan from a young age, so it's no surprise that her two biggest roles were quick to cast her. Both her Mad Men and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina auditions only lasted two rounds for her before she got the big call. In fact, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the CAOS showrunner, already had her in mind for the part when he started the casting process. He'd been impressed with her performance as Sally and knew he could see a strong Sabrina in her. Plus, she'd already tried out for another one of his shows. (More on that, later.) She was cast so early that she was able to test with the other actors and actresses who would costar with her.
Before Kiernan was raising hell on Netflix, she was doing the same thing in comedy bits for none other than Jimmy Kimmel. In an interview with the late-night host, he pulled up an old clip so the pair could reminisce. In the bit, Jimmy had a group of kids, including Kiernan, play a prank on one of his security guards who was running an ice cream truck for the day. The actress really committed to her role by kicking the truck and screaming at the top of her lungs for free ice cream. We love how much emotion she throws into her roles, even if it is just a two-minute bit. We're glad to say not much has changed since.
Chilling Adventures has a way of seamlessly weaving social commentary into the fictional storylines. Sabrina and her friends use their voices to start WICCA (The Women's Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association) at Baxter High and advocate for their friend, Theo Putnam when they're being bullied. Throughout the seasons, we see 'Brina fight the patriarchy at the Academy of the Unseen Arts by nominating herself to be Top Boy and effectively challenging the misogynist manifesto of the Church of Night. On multiple occasions, Kiernan has stated how important it is that shows be taking this kind of stand by showing the importance of women's rights, fighting for equality and justice, and more. That's one wonderful thing she and her character have in common.
When you're starring on a show that is often comprised of scenes that involve banishing demons, surprise visits from the devil, unwanted darkness and more, it's not hard to imagine getting the jitters every now and then. For Kiernan, this isn't a problem. Of course, seeing Batibat, the sleep demon, getting a bagel from the catering table probably takes away from the illusion, but the actress insists she's hard to scare. In an interview with Build, she explains that being on set with cameras and crew really distracts from the realness of the content.
Any Sabrina the Teenage Witch or CAOS fan knows that there's one character around who's just as important as the show's namesake: Salem the cat. In the original show, he was a warlock cursed to remain a cat for some dastardly deeds, but on CAOS, he serves as the teenage witch's familiar, a protector of sorts as she travels down the Path of Night. Unfortunately for Kiernan, her partnership with the cat that plays Salem did not go as well off-screen. She discovered quickly that she was, in fact, allergic to cats and would need to rely on Zyrtec to get her through filming and limit how many scenes they shared. You hate to see it. We can't imagine the little actor cat prefers the company of many humans anyways, so we're sure it works out for the best.
Despite playing a witch and getting the chance to learn a lot more about modern-day witchcraft and practices through her role, Kiernan definitely has her superstitions just like the rest of us. In an interview with Vulture, the actress and co-star Gavin Leatherwood, who plays warlock Nick Scratch, got the chance to reveal a little bit about what they find "cursed." On the star's list: broken mirrors, dolls, and Friday the 13th. Surprisingly not on the list: black cats. Despite being allergic to Salem, she still loves him just a little.
Growing up on set and in the spotlight can be difficult. Kiernan Shipka played the role of Sally Draper on Mad Men for a whopping eight years. The show's popularity and success could've led to a crazy childhood and even crazier future, but the child star claimed that being under the guidance of Jon Hamm and company set her up for success. In an interview with Nylon, she touches on the good work ethic of her co-stars: showing up on time, coming prepared to act, setting positive examples for one another. She got to watch those around her show her how to succeed in the business and be a good person while doing it while dealing with the fast-paced life of television.
Before Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa cast Lili Reinhart as the Betty Cooper we know and love on the hit CW show, Riverdale, Kiernan was thought of for the spot. She had the look and the acting chops, but the part ultimately went to Reinhart. We think the characters have a lot in common: formidable young women with curious minds, strong relationships, and the desire to do good while understanding their dark sides. We're sure she would've smashed it in the role, but we think it's worked out for the best. Now, we just need them to be fighting the good fight on screen together.
Obviously, Kiernan Shipka is not a witch nor is she the Herald of Hell (well, we think), though we wouldn't be mad about her being either. But those slight differences are just a part of why the actress loves stepping into Sabrina's shoes at work every day. In an interview with AM to DM, she talked about loving the differences in their actual personalities. Yes, Brina gets to do a lot of cool stuff like bring people back to life and clone herself and chase demons. But for Kiernan, it's also about getting to play a different person and get out of her own head for a while. We totally get that and would be open to taking roles as extras.
Kiernan doesn't always use her magic powers for good, try as she might, but she does use social media for good. In an interview with Seventeen, she discussed how she loves using platforms like Instagram to learn and grow. She participated in the "10 Featured Teachers" campaign, where users share 10 teachers over the course of 10 days to help them get the classroom supplies they need. Campaigns like this and creating change on both individual and mass scales are what keeps Kiernan interested in being on social media at all.
Front Street Pictures Inc.
When Kiernan mentioned that she and Sabrina differed in personality, we certainly wondered what she meant. They're both strong, ambitious and successful women. But when she mentioned in Seventeen that she was an introvert, it all made sense. Brina isn't one to hold back her thoughts or her actions. Many of us extroverts couldn't even compete with that, so we can understand how Kiernan might feel a large difference in the character and herself. The actress highlights the importance of taking alone time to recharge, and we feel that. We're not sure Sabrina will ever have alone time in a house of two aunts, a cousin and a familiar, but we hope Kiernan can show her the ropes.
Kiernan has mentioned quite a few times that she can make a mean salad, and we respect that. She loves to cook up a good toast, too. We'd love to be her house guest, but only if she promises not to bake. On a special episode of Nailed It! on Netflix's YouTube channel, the teenage witch and her aunts, Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis, were tasked with making the men of CAOS from cake. Seeing as Aunt Zelda is holding a hammer in the picture, you can guess how it went. Kiernan added enough butter to make any cake-lover cry, and the rest (aka the cake) was history. Her finished product may have ended looking rather rough, but we'd still sign up for dinner and dessert at Brina's any night.
Season one of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has a lot of quality scenes, and it's hard to pick which one we love most. For Kiernan, the most memorable (and most performed) was the scene where she first tells her boyfriend Harvey Kinkle, played by Ross Lynch, that she's a witch. Things don't go as well as planned, and she immediately erases his memory. It's a pivotal moment on season one and shows us really how big the fight between the mortal and witch world is in both her head and her heart. Brina and Harvey have great on-screen chemistry, and we can't help but love watching them at their highs and lows. We're glad Kiernan agrees.
Kiernan has been known for her television work for some time, but often left out of the mix of hit series she's triumphed in is The Legend of Korra. The Nickelodeon show is a spin-off of Avatar: The Last Airbender and takes place 70 years later. Kiernan's character, Jinora, is the granddaughter of Aang, the original last Airbender. She follows in her grandfather's footsteps and becomes an airbending master. The show was critically acclaimed and incredibly loved by the fans. Whether acting or just doing voices, Kiernan just seems to pick the best projects.
It's sometimes wild to think about how Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Riverdale take place just one town over from one another. How can that many bad people be located in one small radius? We're not sure. But, if we're going to fight the battle of good versus evil, we'll need all the help we can get, right? If it were up to Kiernan to pick a Riverdale friend to head to the streets of Greendale, she'd pick none other than leading man Archie Andrews. In an interview with MTV, the actress says that the football-player-turned-singer-turned-boxer would be a perfect fit thanks to his love of problem-solving and the fact that he's always on the run. Trouble seems to always follow the Riverdale star around, so we might have to disagree there.
Funny or Die
After a few seasons of psychologist visits on Mad Men, it only makes sense that Kiernan Shipka get a license to practice herself. In a bit for Funny or Die, the actress played a child-star psychologist, working with other current and former child actors and actresses such as Nolan Gould, Danielle Fishel, and Amandla Stenberg. Going through the issues of not being able to detach from characters, focusing on failed projects and more, Kiernan makes a decent psychologist and great comedy actress. We love watching her jump from a drama series to humor and back.
One of the biggest themes of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is the struggle to choose, or to try and combine, the mortal and witch world. This is one of Kiernan's favorite parts of the show and one of her favorite parts to explore, she told E! News during an interview. Learning to use her powers and understanding the traditions and roles she wants to take in the Church of Night, she faces a lot of choices that separate her life into two distinct places. She's fighting for good versus evil both inside and out in both worlds, and that makes for a really complex character for Kiernan to take on.
Kiernan Shipka loves to karaoke, and we love that about her. Who doesn't love a night out (or in, if you're really dedicated) scream-singing to oldies and Top 20 bops? She's showed off her singing chops numerous times, including in the episode, "Chapter Twenty: The Mephisto Waltz," where she sings a number from Phantom of the Opera to the Dark Lord himself. She's names "1,000 Miles," "Mr. Brightside," "Shallow," and anything Britney Spears as top karaoke performances for herself. Based on these song choices alone, we'd be honored to share a karaoke stage with the leading lady.
For eight years, Mad Men delivered Sally Draper a lot of highs and lows. Death, divorce and destruction made life pretty difficult for the Drapers' oldest child, but Kiernan wouldn't mind seeing a future for her. She's said openly that she'd be down for a spin-off, and we're open to it, too. After CAOS, of course. We think picking up years later could mean great things for the big sister after a childhood of intensity.
When you begin acting at a young age, you have a lot of your biggest moments of growing up on-screen. In an interview with W Magazine, the actress discusses how Sally got her first kiss and her period before she did, which prepared her for life's real moments. She had to act out all of Sally's puberty moments before she could handle them first herself. It was good preparation, but definitely a different way to grow up.
Kiernan has made a few cameos, but one of her best was on Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The actress plays Kymmi, Kimmy's half-sister, who resents her for going missing because she wasn't allowed to do anything and was always compared to her. Kiernan goes into full younger sister mode — speaking fluent sarcasm only. It's a fun cameo and it's great to see her interact with Ellie Kemper, which is why this is one of our favorite cameos. We told you she's good at comedy!
We can't imagine how awkward it must be for actors and actresses to watch themselves on screen. That's probably why it took Kiernan Shipka more than three years to watch her work on Mad Men after the show ended. She finally watched the entire series in 2019 and got to see herself grow from an eight-year-old Sally Draper to the teen she was by the end of the series in 2015. Kiernan, like the rest of us, really enjoyed the comprehensive show and got to understand from the outside what made it so enjoyable for so many. We're glad she was able to take a step back and enjoy the seven seasons just like the rest of us.
CAOS started filming while Kiernan was 18, which for many of us is the start of "adulthood." She was turning the age when most teenagers head off to college to discover what they want to do and make of the world. She, of course, had already started doing that as a toddler. In her interview with Jimmy Kimmel, she says that filming CAOS is kind of like her own version college. The entire cast lives in one building while shooting each season, they're on set in two different schools, and she's constantly learning more about her craft. Though it's weird that all her friends are off to college and she's off to set, she loves where she's at right now.
In researching modern witchcraft, Kiernan learned a lot — but she's found herself most interested in the power of manifestation — Thinking things into reality and using the power of will to create your own destiny. Manifesting success has been working for the teen witch IRL it seems, and we're willing to adopt some of her practices if it means thinking good thoughts and striving for what you want.
Seven years into her tenure at Mad Men, Kiernan Shipka made Time's "25 Most Influential Teens" list, and who's really surprised? Joined by others such as Sasha Obama, Rico Rodriguez from Modern Family and Shawn Mendes, she earned her spot for her amazing performance as Sally Draper and her role in the movie Flowers in the Attic. They also highlight her red carpet looks and her scene-stealing fashion. She was influential in a number of ways. Time predicted big things for the young actress, who was just 14 at the time, and boy were they spot on.
It's no surprise that Kiernan's favorite advice is to "stand up for yourself and be your best advocate." As a child actor, a woman in acting and the chosen Herald of Hell, she's surely time and time again had to face obstacles where she's had to determine what she's worth and what she deserves based on her own beliefs, values, and rights. We love an up and coming actress to wants to create change as she gains a bigger platform and that's exactly what Kiernan Shipka is doing.