Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men’s Sally Draper) is 10 years old & completely wonderful

Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men arrives at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on August 29, 2010.  UPI/Lori Shepler Photo via Newscom

Over the years as I’ve watched the beauty of Mad Men, I’ve noticed that they cast one of the finest child actors working today. Her name is Kiernan Shipka, and she’s ten years old. She plays Sally “Salamander” Draper, Don and Betty Draper’s oldest child. In this current season of Mad Men (Season 4), she’s finally been bumped up to full cast member, with her name appearing on the opening credits and everything. Honestly, she deserved to be a full cast member the whole time – she’s always acted her ass off. The Sally Draper character is wonderful, at times used as a Greek chorus to give voice to the audience, at times she’s used to simply call out her mother and her father on their bad behavior. In this season, Sally is starting to grow up and act out – in one memorable episode, Sally even masturbated while watching The Man From U.N.C.L.E. While at a sleepover. She’s in therapy now, she’s losing her lisp, she’s throwing fits, and she’s running away, and she’s going to come of age when some really bad sh-t is going down. She’s wonderful.

Anyway, HuffPo has an interview with Kiernan, and she’s just the kind of effortlessly precocious and intelligent young lady that you would expect:

The 10-year-old actress who plays Don and Betty Draper’s daughter Sally on “Mad Men” is getting a lot of airtime this season, but she’s not allowed to see much more than her own scenes.

“I’m not allowed to watch the show,” Kiernan Shipka says. “My mom will tape it and then show me the scenes she feels are appropriate.”

The critically acclaimed series stars Jon Hamm, January Jones and Elisabeth Moss and centers about a 1960s-era ad agency. Episodes routinely feature topics that include alcoholism, adultery and sexism in the workplace.

Even if she follows the story lines only on a need-to-know basis, Kiernan says it’s not difficult to channel Sally.

“I’m very method when I’m on set,” Kiernan says. “It’s just kind of thinking the thoughts of Sally, and I pretty much just become her. It’s a character that I’ve known for a really long time, so it’s pretty easy.”

It’s that kind of talent that has upped Kiernan to a full-time cast member on the show, which is on its fourth season. Its writers are giving her a lot to do, too: Sally’s parents are now divorced and she’s acting out.

Some of Sally’s most recent offenses include running away to see her father in New York City, chopping off her hair and fondling herself in front of a friend’s mother. Kiernan says Sally will bring more drama to the show in future episodes.

“Believe it or not, there’s a lot more coming,” Kiernan teases. “You’re just gonna have to wait and see what it is.”

Kiernan also defends Sally’s recent behavior.

“I don’t think she’s a bad kid at all. She’s going through a rough time. Don is absent and Betty has never once catered to Sally’s emotional needs, so I feel that they’re not the best parents,” Kiernan says.

[From Huffington Post]

Don’t you love her? “Betty has never once catered to Sally’s emotional needs” – do you know any 10 year olds who talk like that? She’s epic. I predict a long career for this one – at least I hope so. Because this one could truly be the second coming of Jodie Foster (suck it, Lohan).

Cast member Kiernan Shipka attends the premiere of the motion picture action comedy Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore , at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on July 25, 2010.  UPI/Jim Ruymen Photo via Newscom

LOS ANGELES - AUG 27: Kiernan Shipka arrives at the 2010 BAFTA Emmy Tea at Century Plaza Hotel on August 27, 2010 in Century City, CA Photo via Newscom

Aug. 29, 2010 - Hollywood, California, U.S. - I14939PR.The 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room held at The Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles,California 08-29-2010. JANUARY JONES WITH ELISABETH MOSS Kiernan Shipka AND CHRISTINA HENDRICKS. © Red Carpet Pictures

The Karate Kid Premiere held at The Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California on June 7th, 2010. Shipka Kiernan                                  Fame Pictures, Inc

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

56 Responses to “Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men’s Sally Draper) is 10 years old & completely wonderful”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. ams511 says:

    I have got to start watching this!

  2. Ricci says:

    Yes she is adorable & Mad Men is an awesome show

  3. Me says:

    I was awestruck at the episode she ran away in. She really is an amazing actress and has staying power.

  4. Kitten says:

    She is so cute and is turning into a really good little actress!

  5. normade says:

    Her Mom must have great taste. She looks so cute and age appropriate on the red carpet

  6. carrie says:

    i believed you disliked method actors!

  7. Sarah says:

    Aw, she’s adorable.

  8. esblondie says:

    She really is amazing and so mature for her age. She kind of reminds me of a young Emma Watson (Hermione from Harry Potter).

  9. Samigirl says:

    @esblondie, I look at her and see Emma Watson too. She favors her strongly…What a little doll!

  10. Poopie says:

    Hey Dina Blohan : THIS IS TRUE CLASS!
    Take Notes

  11. Rita says:

    What a smiley face!!! Now, someone wrap their love around her and protect her from the hell of growing up in the celebrity life.

  12. SolitaryAngel says:

    What a beautiful, intelligent little girl! (I get the Emma Watson vibe too, and it’s not a bad thing at all) I wish for her the path of Dakota Fanning, NOT the trials of Lohan. I’ve never seen Mad Men; maybe I’ll start now.

  13. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Or, some adult could have fed her those lines. Wait, what do you mean? She’s an actress, how could she have rehearsed?!

  14. flutters says:

    I always worry about kid actors. I wish the best for Kiernan Shipka. She’s really talented.

  15. Katie says:

    She is adorable. There was a great clip of her at the Emmy’s when the cast when was being interviewed after their Best Drama win and a reporter asked, “We hear your cast are a bunch of a partiers and love to party, is that true?” Matt Weiner started to answer and Jon Hamm stepped in, grabbed the mike and said, “Kiernan should take this one,” then lowered the mike for her. She laughed, threw her hands up and said, really enthusiastically, “We party!” It was awesome.

  16. Chris says:

    She’s a dead ringer for Drew Barrymore in that last one.

  17. pebbles says:

    so cute! I must have that blue tie dye dress……wonder if they make it in my size!

  18. Riley says:

    I am so envious of her wardrobe ;-(

  19. lucy2 says:

    She’s really been the stand out on the show this season, the character development has been top notch and the actress handles it all perfectly, and seems like a great kid too – well spoken and intelligent. I wish the best for her too, and look forward to watching her career as she gets older.
    @Chris – I’ve always thought she looks like Drew B. too, back in her ET days.

  20. Maritza says:

    I love Mad Men! She is a very talented young girl, very convincing in her role.

  21. Jeri says:

    Kiernan Shipka is great. She’s turned a role that could easily have been an afterthought into one of the breakout & anxiously awaited roles of the show. So smart too! Peggy watch out.

    I too hope she has a long, rewarding career guided by loving people with her best interests at heart.

  22. Stephy2485 says:

    So, call me crazy but….Katie Perry’s cleavage is too much for children to see, but it’s perfectly acceptable for a director/writer, etc to create a scene in which a ten year old child is simulating masturbation?

    **I have never seen the show past the first three episodes so perhaps I’m just talking out my a$$…what do you guys think?

  23. Kaiser says:

    Sesame Street is viewed by children – Mad Men is not. Regarding Kiernan’s masturbation scene, they just had her put her hand under a blanket. And she’s an actress who is more mature than most adults.

  24. Mel says:

    This article is timely. I’ve been catching up with Mad Men on DVD recently. And the other day it I noticed her, I mean like a smack across the face noticed her. It was when Betty’s father, her grandfather allowed her to drive the car some time in Season Two. There was a close up on her smiling as she drove….it was a fabulous moment…she’s very special.
    I think Mad Men is the best series ever made for tv…we love it over here across the pond.

  25. jzhz says:

    She has the most beautiful eyes! And clearly, great parents, too.

  26. original kate says:

    “I’m not allowed to watch the show,” Kiernan Shipka says. “My mom will tape it and then show me the scenes she feels are appropriate.”

    see, that is how you raise a child in in the acting profession. you do NOT become their “best friend” and take them to clubs. yeah, white oprah, i’m looking at you.

  27. kelbear says:

    I have always wanted to watch a couple episodes to see if I like it. Can someone tell me how good it is? And it’s good to see she is dressing her age.

  28. anon33 says:


    SO SO GOOD. I cannot recommend this show highly enough.

    It has even surpassed my love for The Wire, which (as a Baltimorean), I didn’t think was possible.

  29. TQB says:

    Wow. She’s beautiful. She makes me wish I was 10 and could wear those dresses. And be her friend. What lovely choices. I don’t watch MM so I’m limited to the pictures and I’m still really struck by her. She’s just so interesting looking.

  30. Megan says:

    @Stephy2485 I definitely agree that it would be inappropriate to have a child acting out masturbation, but in that episode it looked more like she was scratching an itch and it was only for a couple seconds at most so they probably told her to just scratch or adjust her undies…or at least I hope so! It’s a wonderful show; I recommend catching up on the previous seasons and watching this one as well 🙂

  31. Bina says:

    I like her voice. The lisp is adorable.

  32. original kate says:

    @ kelbear: it is a really great show. i hardly watch TV at all but mr. original kate & i have been burning through “mad men” on netflix. and it’s fun to look at the early 60s fashions and home decor. one time i swear a character was wearing the same pucci-style dress my mother had when i was little – i called my sister and and she confirmed it, LOL.

  33. Newyorking says:

    In that photo with all the Mad Men women, she looks the best, her hair and dress look the best.

  34. buckley says:

    All I can say is LOVE her. She’s going far!

  35. Samantha says:

    You know what I like the most? LOOK AT HER EYEBROWS! Their gorgeous. They didn’t pluck them all to hell, she still looks like a child, even with the makeup on.

  36. Moore says:

    She looks a lot like Emma Watson. Wow.

  37. Lady Jane says:

    Purple strapless dress with transparent straps (I know that makes no sense) is not appropriate for a 10 year old. Sorry. Although in all the other pics she looks cute and age-appropriate so I will let it slide. Love Mad Men.

  38. Yasmine says:

    I get it, she’s cute and all. But isn’t she too young to be dying her hair? And that strapless number is so inappropriate. Something about those pictures disturbed me.

  39. l says:

    she looks like a tiny drew barrymore!

  40. kelbear says:

    @anon Thanks I think I am definitely gonna have to watch it and I used to the love The Wire also. I live outside of Baltimore 😉

    @original kate, I think netflix is calling my name now

  41. Sally Draper!!! I adore her, she’s so cute!

  42. Camille says:

    I don’t watch the show, but that is a pretty girl. She is going to make for one gorgeous woman when she grows up. I wish her the best in her acting career.

  43. LadyBea says:

    I agree w/ comment #39 (Yasmine): she’s 10 & her hair is definitely being bleached and dyed! That squeedges me out just a smidge.

  44. lucy2 says:

    I probably wouldn’t have OK’d a strapless dress, but I’m not so sure her hair is dyed. I think it might be the different lighting in the shots.

  45. mercy says:

    Emma Watson mini-me! adorable

  46. Cleo says:

    Little American Girls are one of our most potent Secret Weapons!

  47. Stephy2185 says:

    You make a very good point…She probably wasn’t told exactly what the scene was meant to convey. Thanks for bringing that point up..I might just have to play catch up–it seems like a hugely popular show..Must be something there!

  48. SoulLovah says:

    to #39 and #44: Seriously?? Compared to Willow Smith this girl is synonymous with a baby angel playing a lyre. Though I have no problems with Willow, either.

  49. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    I think it is bleached, I sort of remember her hair being darker (though not very dark) in earlier seasons. I guess when you have naturally light-ish hair, roots can look really dark, but yeah, I noticed the hair and mascara were kind of radical in the last few weeks. I think the purple dress is a bit much, but oh, well.

  50. jemshoes says:

    What a cutie! Wishing her all the best. 🙂

  51. texasmom says:

    She is great, and I do know ten year olds who talk like that! Smart kids who hang around smart adults can sound. . . really smart.

  52. Anonymei says:

    She is a wonderful actress. The scenes with her and grandpa Gene were magnificent- so real, a girl who was finally being paid attention to and opening up, I was devasted when he died because of her character’s loss. I hope she had wonderful parents eho can keep her grounded through the Holly wood madness. Last epsiode with her excitement over the Beatles was perfection. What a telentand wow she looks so much like Betty in some of the pics, areal stunner. I hope she can transition to adult roles in the future.

  53. Missfit says:

    I agree…definitely a little Hermione look alike! 😉

  54. Ally says:

    In the runaway episode, when she hugged Megan, I felt like she’d just picked Don’s new wife.

  55. JT says:

    I love that her outfits are so cute and could be worn to church or to school if she wanted to. Her dresses are casual but she makes it so formal on the red carpet! I love it! (Besides the purple clear-strapped dress but I’m sure that was just a fluke since everything else is so cute)

    Miley cyrus’ little sister: This is what you’re supposed to wear. Not huge platform boots and an incredible amount of make-up and clothes meant for slutty 16 year olds.