I got a chance to interview Arrow’s Madison McLaughlin over at GeekDad.
And here’s the story behind the story. For the last 15 years or so, I’ve been teaching archery at the world’s oldest field archery range (field archery is a game sort of like golf; archers move from target to target, shooting at various distances, up and down hills and through shrubbery), and for the last 12 years or so, I’ve worked primarily with children. On a few occasions, I get to work with kids who have special needs; I’ve had a student who was hemophiliac and one with brittle bone disease (archery was the first sport either of them had ever participated in), I’ve worked with kids who were visually impaired, in wheelchairs, with prosthetic limbs, as well as less-visible disabilities like autism. Those classes are among my most rewarding experiences.
A few years back, one of my students, a little girl named Bella, told some of her friends about the class, and the next week a family showed up; parents and four girls, two of whom were in wheelchairs. The oldest daughter was about 17, and since this was nominally a “kids’ class” with an average age of about 9, she hung back with Mom and Dad to watch her sisters play. They came back the next week, at which point I handed her a bow and told her “it’s more fun to do than it is to look at.” She hesitantly stepped up to the line, obviously self-conscious at being the only shooter over four feet tall. They kept coming back, and a week or two later, I found out she was an actress, appearing on Supernatural, The Mentalist, and a few other shows. I told her she should add archery to her resume, and who knows, it might come in handy.
Fast forward a few years, and there’s Madison McLaughlin on my Facebook page, telling her friends to watch Arrow because she’s going to be on it. She was introduced at the end of season 4 as Evelyn Sharp, an angry teen bent on avenging her parents’ deaths, using Black Canary’s sonic scream collar that she had swiped. Then this year, they brought her back, transforming Evelyn into the Berlantiverse version of Artemis.
Last week, I got a Facebook message from Madison asking about putting together a group lesson; her sister Marissa had just appeared on ABC’s Speechless, which stars Micah Fowler as JJ, a smart, funny teen with cerebral palsy; much of the show’s action revolves around him and his interaction with frankly terrible family. In conversation with Micah, Marissa and her sister Mahrynn had mentioned their archery experience. He was surprised to learn that it could be done from a wheelchair and wanted to try it. Naturally I said of course and made the arrangements, and on Sunday afternoon, with assistance from two archers from our competitive youth program (Zaphir and Nikki), we set up the McLaughlin and Fowler families (Madison, Marissa, Mallory, and Mahrynn, along with their parents Gary and Janice, Micah, his sister Kelsey, and their parents, David and Tammy) with bows and arrows; they all shot together for a couple of hours and had a blast. At some point during the day’s activity, I asked Madison when Artemis would be returning to Arrow; as it happened, Marc Guggenheim had recently announced on Twitter that she would be back this week, so she was able to tell me that much. I asked if we could do an interview to coincide with the episode. She agreed, I emailed her a handful of questions that evening, and here we are. Enjoy the interview.