There’s something about a girl who can make weird, silly faces and still look gorgeous. Shelby Wulfert, who plays Maddie 2 on the hit Disney show, “Liv and Maddie,” is all that and more. It’s not hard to see why she was chosen to play as one of the girls to help create the intricate process of making Dove Cameron’s twins for the show. Sporting a contagious smile, Wulfert looks sweet and girly, but she’s just as capable of shooting an arrow into a target, as she is climbing trees submerged in a pond (see photos for proof!), and crooning on her ukele to ducks swimming in said pond.
She was gracious enough to spend some time doing the interview and photo shoot with me. I even got to shadow her for a day on set, where she introduced me to the whole “Liv and Maddie” cast and crew. You can tell it’s one big family there, and Wulfert is undoubtedly an integral part. With her incredible talents, infectious personality, and down for anything attitude, this is a girl you will be seeing more of in the future!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and how you got into acting/singing. Was there a specific moment or experience that happened to you that made you know you wanted to be an actor?
I was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and raised in the small Northern California town of Placerville. I was lucky enough to grow up climbing trees and raising chickens and goats - I absolutely love being in nature.
I began singing when I was 10 years old. At the county fair one summer, my mom and I came across a booth advertising vocal lessons. I remember looking up at this beautiful woman, Jolinda Crocker, who was smiling at me and asking if I wanted to learn to sing. I said, “Yes, because I want to do musical theater,” which surprised both me and my mom, because I was insufferably shy! I started doing musicals a few months later and my life in the arts has snowballed from there! Before that point I wanted to be a dolphin rider; I’m sure the 4 year old me might be kind of upset to find out that hasn’t come true.
How did you get the job of being Maddie 2 for “Liv and Maddie,” and what was the audition process like?
The audition for "Liv and Maddie" came through my representation. The breakdown was very specific about height, hair color, etc., but I wasn’t sure going into it what it really was. The casting director explained they were looking to match the main actress Dove Cameron, who had already been cast to play the twins. At the callback I had a chemistry read with Dove to see how alike we looked. Casting told us to stand nose to nose and toes to toes, which is slightly awkward when you’re meeting someone for the first time! I just kept making silly faces to try to lighten the mood. After that I actually had to do a basketball assessment, which was the most terrifying part! I practiced for hours the day before. And then a few days later they called to say I had booked it, which felt amazing!
Explain to us what the whole process of filming an episode of “Liv and Maddie” is like. How does the filming of you and Emmy Buckner (Liv 2) work with Dove Cameron?
Day 1 – We have a table read of the episode in front of the writers and producers. We do the scenes with both twins twice, having Dove switch parts.
Day 2/3 – We come in and the script has been changed, so we rehearse and block, and then do a run through for the writers and producers. We do the twin scenes twice for them on these days too.
Day 4/5 – These are shoot days. We wear wigs so that the hair matches, and that’s the most time consuming part of getting ready.
When we film a twin scene, we have to pay a lot of attention to detail, for continuity. You only see Emmy and me in over the shoulder shots, and the rest is edited together on a split screen. They erase the half with Emmy/me in it and replace it with Dove’s other half. It sounds really complex, but the three of us have it down, and there are a lot of genius people helping us out.
Click HERE out to see more of how the process works.
What’s your favorite part of being on the show, and do you have any funny/crazy stories that’ve happened while filming that you can share with us?
My favorite part of being on the show is the opportunity that I have to learn about all the jobs that go into making a show. I learned how to operate a camera one day, and watch our set designers create new sets really quickly. My favorite part is talking to our Associate Director, Kevin Sullivan. There are so many people working there who have amazing knowledge about their craft, and I want to learn about all of it!
One of my favorite moments on set was definitely the day that Joey Bragg (who plays Joey Rooney) and Tenzing Norgay Trainor (who plays Parker Rooney) brought Nerf guns to work. Naturally, we had a Nerf battle on our lunch break.
What’s something surprising about you that people don’t know? What are some things you like to do outside of acting?
I am totally down for any adventure ever! I love doing things that scare me, and I’m constantly pushing my limits. I love traveling to other countries, and in the past few years I’ve been to Thailand, Russia, Japan, and Jamaica. My favorite thing to do while traveling is meet locals and go on some adventure with them, like late night karaoke.
I love climbing trees because I’m afraid of heights. I’m learning archery. I just got scuba certified, even though the ocean terrifies me.
I think it’s awesome to be able to say, “This really scares me, but I won’t let that stop me.”
An actor’s life sometimes resembles a roller coaster. Can you take us back to one of your worst “down” times, and how you overcame it and what you took from it?
One of my worst down times was about two years ago. I started getting really down on myself about the way I looked. I constantly compared myself to women around me and thought every job I didn’t book was because I wasn’t pretty enough/thin enough/ etc. I’m sure a lot of people have felt like this. It’s really hard to be in this business (or in this society in general) and not worry about how you look. What helped change my perspective was changing my role models. I started looking up to people who were massively successful and happy. Some of my favorites right now are Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais, Amy Poehler, Tom Hanks, Julianne Moore, and Sarah Silverman. I love people who don’t give a f*** what other people think of them. I’ve since applied that to my life and I’m infinitely happier. Living life without inhibitions is so much more liberating.
If you could work on your dream project, with no regard to budget, what would it be about, who would you work with, and where would you shoot it?
I would love to work on a project that I can write and act in, like TRAINWRECK. I’ve always really wanted to work with Amy Schumer or Amy Poehler. If I got to work with them I would be happy to shoot any kind of project. Especially a Bollywood film; Amy Poehler hasn’t done enough of those.
Where do you hope to be in five years, and what steps are you taking to get there?
In five years I hope to be a series regular on a show, consistently working in films, and continuing with my writing. I always take classes and improve my craft, even when I’m working. There’s no end goal for the next five years. If I’m a better actor in five years and I don’t have a show, I’ll still be happy.
What is the best advice you’ve heard and how do you apply it to your life?
The best advice I ever received was from my dad. Growing up, if I was ever unprepared for something, he would tell me to “remember my 5 P’s” which he had learned in pilot school. The 5 P’s are: “Piss Poor Planning = Poor Performance.” It might sound negative but it really helped me realize that I was responsible for being under prepared. I think being held accountable gave me a drive to practice and work harder than I would have. If I ever leave an audition and feel badly about my performance, I try not to get upset and I remember my 5 P’s and practice more for the next one.
What are some tips you would give to those who aspire to do what you’re doing?
Do it. Right now. You can’t wait for someone to tell you that you’re ready – you have to decide you are and then take that leap. It’s terrifying, but the fact is, those who try are the ones who succeed.
Be curious. Take classes and read books and watch every film/show ever made. I meet many actors who don’t read or don’t take class and they are missing out on so much amazing and helpful information. I think if you don’t do those things, you’re holding yourself back.
Don’t give yourself a time limit. If you really love this, you’ll be at it the rest of your life.
How can others find more about you, or reach out to you?
You can find me on Instagram/Twitter: @shelbywulfert
or my Facebook page : www.facebook.com/Shelby.Wulfert.Actress
A HUGE thanks to Shelby for doing this interview and to the whole cast and crew of "Liv and Maddie" for letting me into your world for a day!
Let us know how Wulfert's story and advice may have inspired you!