“Friends who actually love you for who you are will stay with you”
“If you stay true to yourself, you’re kind to others, and you work really hard on what you love, I think you’ll definitely be happy,” says Meg Donnelly. The 17-year-old star of ABC’s American Housewife and Disney Channel’s Zombies is walking, talking, singing proof of that.
Meg discovered her love of performing as a little girl growing up in New York City. “Whenever there were performers on the street or at a restaurant, I would go up, grab a tambourine, and start performing with them,” she laughs. At just five years old, she went to a local theatre school and realized that performing onstage was her true passion.
Over the next six years, Meg starred in multiple productions at the school, and one night, an agent in the audience quickly signed her. Next stop: Disney Channel, right? Not exactly. “When you’re in a theatre school, it’s a very small bubble, but when you get out there, you realize there’s so many kids and it’s really hard,” she explains. “I’ve been on probably over 600 auditions and I’ve only done a couple of things. You really have to stay focused and not give up. Because as soon as you want to give up, that’s when it starts happening.”
Believe it or not, Meg is speaking from experience. Just two years ago, she made it to the final rounds of casting on ABC’s American Housewife and even flew to Los Angeles to meet with the show’s executives. But Meg was devastated to learn that she didn’t get the role. “After that, I kind of wanted to just be a regular kid and do my own thing,” she reveals. But fate would have other plans. “Right when I was gonna give up, American Housewife called and said they were re-casting the girl. And then I got it. So it’s right when you want to give up that it happens. You can’t give up!”
If Meg had given up, she wouldn’t have been cast in her biggest project to date, Disney Channel’s Zombies. “My dream was always to do a movie that had singing in it,” she smiles. And as soon as she read the script, she fell in love with its message and felt an immediate connection to Addison. “Zombies definitely relates to me because in high school and middle school, it’s really hard fitting in,” she shares. “Since I was auditioning, I wasn’t in school half the time, so I was missing out on a lot. And you feel like people are talking about you behind your back.”
Now, with the success of Zombies, everyone’s talking about Meg – but not behind her back. On a daily basis, she receives countless messages from fans all over the world and tries her best to personally respond to each of them. “The fact that young girls are feeling inspired by a character is just so amazing,” she smiles. “They message me saying that because I watched Zombies I can be true to myself. And that’s the most important thing to me about acting – to inspire people. It’s not about the followers or the money or the fame; it’s about telling a story and portraying a person and really moving someone.”
Meg is so humble that she doesn’t realize it’s not just her portrayal of Addison that moves us; it’s who she is at her core: a kind, hardworking, genuine person who never gave up on her dreams or tried to hide her quirks. “Friends who actually love you for who you are will stay with you,” she says. “And Instagram is literally just an app. Just because you see a picture doesn’t mean you have to be that person. Or just because they have a designer bag doesn’t mean you have to spend money on it. You just have to be true to yourself.”
PHOTOS by Joe Magnani
MAKEUP by Anton Khachaturian (Exclusive Artists)
HAIR by Michaeline Becker
STYLING by Robiat Balogun (Dress: Aidan Mattox, Earrings: Lulus, Ring: Sterling Forever, Cuff: Macy’s, Shoes: Lulus)