Dumplin’s Danielle Macdonald wants ‘roles where it doesn’t matter how a character looks’

Netflix’s Dumplin was such a fun, highly watchable movie. It was one of those cute feel good films that isn’t so dumb and predictable you feel guilty for watching it. Plus there are a lot of great performances. Jennifer Aniston was very good in it, there’s a cameo by Kathy Najimy, and the lead Willowdean (Dumplin is her mom’s nickname for her), Danielle Macdonald, 27, is mesmerizing. (Other newcomers, including the best friend, played by Odeya Rush, and another pageant contestant, Maddie Baillio, are wonderful. The love interest, played by Luke Benward, is getting a lot of buzz as well.) Danielle first shot to fame as the star of 2017’s Patti Cake$, available to stream on HBO. It turns out Danielle is actually an Australian actress, and you wouldn’t know it as she nailed the accent. She practiced a lot to get that right. Danielle told Teen Vogue about her preparation process and how she relates to her character.

On identifying with Willow and her message
“I think we all go through those moments of self-doubt. Don’t get me wrong I still go through them, [but] you just get to a point where you’re like, ‘I’m OK with who I am. You are enough.’

“I hope that people can see you can have self-doubt, you can feel insecure at times, but also be [a] person that knows their worth — and be witty and confident. You don’t have to be entirely one thing. I think that hopefully [by] watching this movie, [people] can hopefully relate to all of these characters and realize, ‘Oh wow, we all have these moments. We all go through this.’ We aren’t all as different as we think we are, we’re all just going through it together and that’s really comforting.”

On working with Jennifer Aniston
“I grew up watching Friends and all her movies, and I was so excited to work with her. And then, I met her and I was like, ‘Oh. You’re like a very relatable human being.’”

On more inclusive casting
“It would be really cool to have some more roles where it doesn’t matter how a character looks. You get a script you see it and it doesn’t matter, there’s no description of how the character looks in any way shape or form, it’s just whoever is right for the role is the person. Don’t get me wrong I love these roles, too. I love roles where people actually get to talk about issues and problems, but it’d be nice to mix it up a little bit as well.”

[From Teen Vogue]

I love that line about how you can doubt yourself but still know your worth. It’s not one or the other. I also really liked what she said about how it would be great to have roles where a character’s appearance isn’t central to it. This reminds me of something we’ve heard from actresses of color, recently Viola Davis and Regina King, that all women should be considered for roles and that the default shouldn’t be white and thin. This occurred to me when I was watching Dumplin, that even though her build was a plot point it didn’t seem to matter at all. She was a believable lead actress and love interest. If we’re considering female coming of age movies she could have played the lead in Lady Bird for instance. Instead the best friend and sidekick was a larger woman. (Maybe that’s a bad example as it was based on Greta Gerwig’s life and Saoirse Ronan was awesome in it, but you know what I mean!) Eighth Grade is a great example of a film with a lead who wasn’t made to look perfect. Elsie Fisher had blemishes and she was an average size and she stole every scene.




photos credit: WENN and Netflix

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26 Responses to “Dumplin’s Danielle Macdonald wants ‘roles where it doesn’t matter how a character looks’”

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  1. Kitty says:

    I watched this yesterday and was pleasantly surprised about how enjoyable it was. Hope to see this actress again in more movies.

  2. Skyblue says:

    Watched Dumplin’ last night and surprised myself by loving it. Danielle is radiant.

  3. Some chick says:

    Can hardly wait to see it! LOVE Dolly, and the trailer looks brilliant. Thanks for this writeup.

  4. OriginalLala says:

    it was such a fun movie, and the Dolly soundtrack made me realize that she needs to be the soundtrack to more movies! The movie did make me cry happy tears 🙂

  5. HAha says:

    Watched this last night.

    Extremely enjoyable.

    Dolly Parton is a such a treasure.

  6. manda says:

    Omg, I loved the movie. I have been feeling really emotionally fragile these days (just stressed out with work and holiday stuff), and literally burst into tears during the Dolly Drag Show, I loved it so much. And the friendships! The love interest was cute but not even necessary, IMO. (Like, I did a buzzfeed quiz about whether I would end up with Bo from Dumpling or Peter from To All the Boys… and I got Bo and was disappointed.) And Jennifer Anniston did a really good job. It was just great and I will probably read the book now.

  7. Lana234 says:

    I loved this movie as well.

  8. LORENA says:

    I watched over the weekend and I loved it! I don’t remember seeing Dolly Parton in it tho? Did I miss her?

    • Originaltessa says:

      I can’t tell if you’re joking…
      But if you’re not, Dolly wasn’t in the movie as an actress, but she was idolized by the characters, and her music, old and new, was the soundtrack. All that music was Dolly Parton.

      • LORENA says:

        Lol, not joking, I knew the music was hers and she was idolized by the the characters I was just thinking she had an actual cameo

  9. Ann says:

    I adore Danielle’s green dress and metallic heels at the premiere. What a great winter look. Makeup on point too.

  10. launicaangelina says:

    I’ll say it again – I loved this movie!

  11. upstate diva says:

    Danielle was fantastic in this movie. She and the character really engaged me. I decided to watch it for the Dolly of it all, but the whole movie was fun. And I am the opposite of a ‘FAniston”, but I am going to give it to JA for exec producing the movie AND for her performance. And the Dolly of it all!

  12. a reader says:

    Danielle was wonderful in the role and I absolutely LOVED the movie. It was realistic, hopeful, poignant, and boy did it make me cry ugly tears several times.

  13. Julie says:

    I tried watching this movie a couple of nights ago and couldn’t finish it. 😳 It wasn’t that it was totally terrible or anything, i just found it boring and kind of meh? I didn’t feel moved or touched by it at all. I don’t know why, maybe I’m just the loner here. 😂

    • Debby says:

      I finished it and while it was a cutesy movie it really didn’t move me in any way. It was just a by the numbers dramady and none of the characters had any real depth or charm except maybe that church girl.

    • janice says:

      I’ve gotta agree. I wanted to like it and I did enjoy Jennifer Aniston’s part, but I found the movie corny and a little too predictable.

  14. Skwinkee says:

    I knew Danielle!! I worked at her acting school in Sydney for a while. I’m SO incredibly excited she’s making it big. She’s so talented. I was there for the VISA incident, that was a let down.

    Check her out in The East too!!!

  15. Lena says:

    I actually saw her first in the Netflix anthology series „easy“ and if I remember correctly there was nothing about her weight, but rather it was about her relationship with her parents concerning religion and hypocrisy as well as just kind of a story of finding yourself, which I found refreshing.

  16. Jayna says:

    I enjoyed Dumplin. It was a nice afternoon movie to watch when it was raining. Very sweet. Jennifer did a good job, as did Danielle.

    I also finally watched Sharp Objects during time off after Thanksgiving. I love, love, love Amy Adams. No filler/fake huge apple cheeks, no odd lips, and looks fantastic at 44, in a very natural way. Even as famous as she is, has been around, I still bought into her being the very screwed-up character, not just watching her play the character.

    We enjoyed BBC’s Bodyguard on Netflix also.

  17. meh says:

    SHE’S AUSTRALIAN??? Dang, her accent work in Patti Cake$ was amazing, I had no idea she wasn’t American.

  18. Nicegirl says:

    Love Danielle$ and had no idea she was not American, wow that is amazing accent work. Also yes to the green dress, gorgeous.

  19. s says:

    Woman – get really famous and buy the rights to stories you want to act in.