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MOVIES Actress raps about performing hip-hop in 'Patti Cake$'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Watch out, world: There's a new rapper in town, and her name is Patti Cake$.

A plus-sized white girl from New Jersey named Patricia Dumbrowski is going to hustle and flow her way to the top and nothing is going to stop her. Actress Danielle Macdonald stars in the new movie in which her character experiences bullying, family drama and a bit of The Wizard of Oz.

Born in Australia, Macdonald moved to LA to pursue her career at a young age. She stood out in a strong cast for the film Every Secret Thing, which stars Diane Lane, Elizabeth Banks and Dakota Fanning.

Windy City Times: I watched your movie Every Secret Thing yesterday to prepare for this. How do you portray such very drastic characters?

Danielle Macdonald: I think the main thing with that one was I tried to not judge her, because the first thing I did was think how awful she was. If you feel that way you can't play someone, so I had to find the humanity in her, and the reasons why she did what she did to connect to her.

They are very different characters. I am not psychotic, and I am not a rapper or cool. It was exploring different parts of myself.

Patti was a bigger challenge than the other one just because she walked differently and talked differently. She raps. She reacts differently. I didn't see any similarities at first. Then I saw she is a dreamer, and has a lot of love for her friends who drive her. Her family relationships are complicated, but there is a lot of love there.

WCT: We all, hopefully, have supportive friends like Patti's.

DM: We all have a Jheri, played by Siddharth Dhananjay.

WCT: Well, that's my name—kind of.

DM: There you go!

WCT: I wanted him to be your gay best friend.

DM: It is never discussed. He could be! I live in West Hollywood. My best friends are in the LGBT community so I have my own Jheri there.

WCT: Were there rappers that you emulated?

DM: There were a bunch that I listened to. I listened to so many different artists and songs just to get flows and rhythms, to see what I was good at or not good at. It was Biggie that I related to Patti the most with. I pulled my shoulders back, and felt more cool. He's just so cool. He was so calm about everything that I was able to vibe with him.

WCT: Were you bullied like Patti?

DM: No. Well, everyone experiences a little bit so, at times, but nothing crazy. I have never been standing there while someone called me a whole slew of names in front of a bunch of people like in the movie luckily.

WCT: Had you done a catering job similar to the movie?

DM: No, because I am the clumsiest person alive. I would have been fired instantly. I was a dishwasher, though.

WCT: How was working with Nick Sandow, from Orange Is the New Black, as your catering manager?

DM: He would say a line and everyone was dying laughing. It was not necessarily funny, it is just the way he says things is amazing. Take after take was comedy gold.

WCT: Speaking of takes, did you have a lot of takes to perfect the rapping in Patti Cake$?

DM: Yes and no. It was a quick production. We just had so much to get through in a short amount of time. We had to shorten the time for the rest of the day to get everything in.

WCT: There is a lot of hype with this film. How does that feel?

DM: There is a bit of pressure. I hope it lives up to people's expectations. It is scary, but I am trying to not think about it. I hope people see it. You can't please everyone. Some people are not going to like it, that is the reality, but I hope some people do like it.

WCT: How did the screening in Chicago go?

DM: We left from the airport directly to the screening. It has been crazy. This is the last leg of the tour, but last night was reinvigorating. We wanted to stay. People were jumping up and down to ask questions.

WCT: People seem to relate to this movie, from what I have heard.

DM: I think everyone can relate. It is about a girl who is lost and trying to find herself. I am pretty sure everyone has felt lost at some point or out of place, had someone cut off their dreams.

The coolest thing is I am meeting people of all different ages, genders and cultural backgrounds. All of them are finding something to relate to, and I am loving that.

WCT: Did you want to be a performer growing up?

DM: I don't remember knowing what I wanted to do. I started acting when I was at 12 years old; then in 10th grade that was it. It was all I wanted to do after that.

WCT: Describe your American Horror Story: Roanoke experience.

DM: It was almost as hard as this. I got my lines maybe 12 hours before I had to be on set. It was a one-page monologue. I didn't know what was happening because they don't give the whole script. The first half of that season was very different than the second half. The first half had aired when I get the second half so I had no idea what was going on. It was like a different show. I had to learn a British accent in 12 hours.

WCT: Look at you!

DM: I was so stressed. I thought I was going to screw it up. The second day was a lot more calm and fun. I enjoyed it.

WCT: Did Ryan Murphy remember you from Glee?

DM: I have never met him. He was not directing either episode. He probably has no idea who I am.

WCT: You are so close to him, yet so far away. Have you used your natural Australian accent in a movie?

DM: No. Hopefully, one day…

WCT: Are you losing your accent, like Iggy Azalea?

DM: It is what it is at this point. It is Australian, but I speak with an American rhythm. I came here at 18 so it changed a little bit, because I was fairly young. The way it sounds now is how it has been for years. I don't think it is going to change more. It is set in its way.

WCT: This new Lady Bird movie has a lot of Chicago Steppenwolf Theatre actors in it, like Tracy Letts and Laurie Metcalf.

DM: I worked one day on that film with one line. I am unimportant in it, but a fun day at work!

WCT: Any LGBT movies you have done?

DM: I have never played a gay character, which blows my mind because I audition for them all the time. Why am I not booking them?

The first movie I did I had my first girl kiss, though. It was called The East. It got cut. We played spin the bottle for hours. They just took what they liked from when we played. My first two girl kisses never made it. My first one was with Ellen Page, so I was very proud. It was the best thing ever!

WCT: It's on the cutting-room floor somewhere! You have a movie with Jennifer Aniston coming, I read.

DM: It is based off a young adult book called Dumplin'. I was in love with it. I thought they did an awesome adaptation of it. I would have wanted something like this as a teenager and I wanted to be a part of it. There is a lot of Dolly Parton in it. The girls learn things from these amazing drag queens. It is going to be fun!

Patti Cake$ will be released Friday, Aug. 18.

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