Thanks to “Stranger Things,” Sink spent most of her teen years in the spotlight. But underneath all the glitz and glam, she’s just your average 20-year-old who prefers baggy jeans to ball gowns.
Don’t get Sadie Sink started on High School Musical. “You just say the word and I can sing all the lyrics of ‘I Want It All’ from the third movie,” she laughs, describing her love of the iconic Disney Channel franchise and the characters Ryan and Sharpay Evans, played by Lucas Grabeel and Ashley Tisdale. “They are NOT the villains!” she passionately declares, only half joking. (For the uninitiated, she’s referring to the first film, in which the Evans siblings try to prevent Vanessa Hudgens’s Gabriella Montez and Zac Efron’s Troy Bolton from auditioning for the school musical.) “Sharpay put in the work! Where is the respect for seniority? But I could talk about this for hours.”
In fact, we’re only five minutes into our video chat, but here we are, already gossiping, grinning and giggling like two girls at a slumber party. She’s even dressed for one, wearing a relaxed striped shirt with a messy bun and barely-there makeup as she sits cross-legged on a chair in an L.A. hotel room. And maybe it’s her young age of 20, or maybe it’s because I’ve caught Sink in a lull after a whirlwind of press for season four of Stranger Things, but our conversation feels more intimate than most. This, I soon discover, is rare for the usually guarded actor.
Growing up in Brenham, Tex., Sadie Sink and her four siblings — three brothers and one sister — weren’t allowed to watch many movies, but one that they were able to enjoy was High School Musical (hence the obsession). “It really had a huge impact on me and started me and my brother Mitchell on our musical journey,” she shares. Case in point: The Sink siblings would make up their own choreography to various songs from the film and (in her words) force their family to watch them perform it. With two such fervent musical fans in the house, their parents enrolled both Sink and her brother in local singing, acting and dancing classes, which led them to get roles at a regional theatre in Houston. “My mom drove us to all these things — not in the hope of our ever going to Broadway or anything like that but because they were activities we loved doing.”
As luck would have it, that’s exactly what happened next. Sink was playing the titular role in a local production of Annie when she learned that Broadway was looking for its own red-headed protagonist. After submitting an audition tape, Sink was initially cast as an understudy, but a few months later, she became the star. She was 11 years old at the time. By 12, she was starring in The Audience (written by The Crown’s Peter Morgan) alongside Helen Mirren. “That’s when my relationship with acting changed,” notes Sink. “Working with some of the greatest minds in the industry taught me about what acting really is, and that’s when I decided this was what I wanted to do.”
With that in mind, Sadie Sink began a natural transition from stage to screen. After moving to New Jersey with her family, she landed a few guest spots on TV series like The Americans and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. But it wasn’t until she auditioned for season two of Stranger Things that her world completely changed. Although the casting directors were initially hesitant about Sink’s “old” age (she was 14 at the time!), she wouldn’t take no for an answer. “I just begged and pleaded with them to give me more material so I could show them something fresh,” she explains, describing how “right” the part of Max felt to her. The producers relented and called her in for a chemistry read with now co-stars Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin. The next day, she found out she’d got the part.
Read the rest of this entry