Maddie Ziegler and Emily Hampshire On Finding Their Voices in “Fitting In”
Being a teenage girl is hard. Being a teenage girl with a rare reproductive disorder is a nightmare.
Fitting In (originally titled Bloody Hell) is a semi-autobiographical account of writer/director Molly McGlynn’s own Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) diagnosis. MRKH Syndrome is a rare congenital disorder that is characterized by an underdeveloped vagina and uterus, making it difficult to perform vaginally penetrative sex and impossible to become pregnant or carry a child.
The film centers on a 17-year-old Lindy (Maddie Ziegler) as she navigates love and relationships in the midst of her life-altering diagnosis and explores the complicated nature of her relationship with her mother, Rita (Emily Hampshire), who desperately wants to help her daughter but has no idea how.
“When I met her, [Molly] said she knew it would be me [in the role of Lindy] as soon as I showed up with wet hair and my shoes were untied,” Ziegler says of meeting McGlynn prior to the film’s casting. “I left just being like, ‘I hope I get to work with her.’ And she ended up writing me a really beautiful letter asking me to do the project.”
Ziegler said after talking to McGlynn and reading the script, she felt this would be a “dream role” for her but knew it would come with challenges.
“This is the first time that I would be in every frame of the movie,” she said.
Every frame in this film means contemplative close-ups, a final monologue that will leave viewers torn to pieces and lots of Lindy’s sexual exploits — a first for Ziegler.
“This is my first time properly doing intimate scenes, and I was so nervous thinking about leading up to that, but we had a female DP [cinematographer Nina Djacic] as well, which makes all the difference for me,” Ziegler explained. “I’m very lucky to have had an intimacy coordinator because we had so many conversations, and she was really receptive to my needs and boundaries.”
Near the end of the film, Ziegler’s character delivers a moving monologue about grief and self-acceptance that could silence any critic.
“Your big monologue blows my mind,” said Emily Hampshire to Ziegler during our interview. “And I am someone who never likes having a big monologue… But when I saw that scene, I was so moved. It was beautifully written, and sometimes things that are beautifully written are hard to act.”
Ziegler said she felt the emotions behind the monologue were “already translating” in the script, but what put her in the mindset to perform it was a conversation she had with a woman she met on the street.
“Before the scene where Djouliet [Amara] and I are sitting in the grass…across the street, there was a mom with her baby, and she shared some things with me personally, and that just immediately — I started crying for her, and I wanted to protect her so bad. And I just went and I did it.”
Fitting In is in select theaters now. Check out our full video interview below:
Featured image: Emily Hampshire (RITA) and Maddie Ziegler (LINDY) in “Fitting In.” Courtesy of Blue Fox Entertainment