Kiernan Shipka was just 6 years old when she landed her breakout role as Sally Draper on the hit AMC series Mad Men. Audiences were wowed by her portrayal of the innocent-turned-rebellious child of the womanizing Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the chain smoking Betty Draper (January Jones), and critics praised the precocious young star for her scene-stealing performances over the course of the series.
It was evident the actress was set for a long, successful Hollywood career, and Shipka continued showing off her acting abilities starring in roles in Lifetime’s Flowers in the Attic, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and FX’s Feud. In 2018, the talented star was cast as Sabrina Spellman in Netflix’s The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a role that was essentially written for her.
Curious to learn what the young star has been up to in between casting spells and bewitching the cast of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina? Praise Satan! This is the untold truth of Kiernan Shipka.
She was almost cast as Betty Cooper on Riverdale
Before landing the coveted role as Sabrina Spellman on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Kiernan Shipka was almost cast as Betty Cooper on the hit CW series, Riverdale. The show’s creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also created The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, told Entertainment Weekly in an October 2018 interview about how he originally envisioned Shipka for the role: "Kiernan was iconic in Mad Men, and I had even thought about her, I was like, ‘Oh I wonder if she’d ever do Betty."
While the role of Betty ultimately went to Lili Reinhart, Aguirre-Sacasa kept Shipka in mind when casting Sabrina, saying, "When [Sabrina] moved from CW to Netflix, our casting director David Rapaport said, ‘By the way this is something Kiernan might be interested in. …There was no script at the time, but from the second he said that, for me it was sort of like, ‘Okay she’s Sabrina. I’m writing this for Kiernan.’"
She’s allergic to her feline co-star
In The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, witches are protected by goblins known as "familiars" that take on the form of a household pet. For Sabrina Spellman, her devoted friend is a black cat named Salem. Unfortunately for Kiernan Shipka, she soon learned she was allergic to her feline co-star when she began filming the series.
In a September 2018 interview with Vulture, Shipka explained that she learned about her cat allergy when she broke out into hives after picking up one of the cats trained to play Salem. Shipka went on to explain to Collider in November 2018 that, despite her allergy, Salem is still featured on the show: "It’s so funny because Salem still is a pretty prevalent part of the show but there is not as much touching and holding. It kind of works because he’s Sabrina’s protector in a certain way. Since he’s not the sassy cat that talks and he’s more of the grounded, chill cat that comes in and saves the day, it’s workable."
She can dish it out
When she’s not casting spells as Sabrina, Shipka is using her cast-iron skillet to create magic in the kitchen. The young star shares her food experiences and favorite restaurant hot spots with her followers on social media, and credits late LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold for fueling her culinary love.
Shipka told Eater: Los Angeles in April 2016, "I’ve always liked food and I think it was when I was 13 or 14 my friends and I started going out to different restaurants. It’s something that we really like doing. Of course, the Jonathan Gold 101 list became our bible." The budding chef spoke with Bon Appetit in April 2019 about her favorite foods, and she even cooked up a recipe with young celebrity chef Flynn McGarry. She told the website, "Jonathan Gold was such an influential person in my life… I really found my love of food through his lists."
She’s doesn’t lose sleep over work
When Kiernan Shipka was cast as the star of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, she quickly learned the role would come with massive responsibility — and 14-hour work days. The star explained to Bon Appetit in April 2019 how she was feeling overwhelmed and losing sleep when she first started the series, "I was so stressed out last season that I was getting really random hives. …And other times I’d just cry for no reason because I was so sleep-deprived."
To deal with her stress, Shipka learned to nap whenever — and wherever — her body told her to rest up. Along with power napping, the TV witch takes adaptogens to relieve stress, and also gets massages. She told LA Times in October 2018, "I love sleeping now. I love not going out on a Saturday night now. I’ve napped more this year than I probably ever napped in my entire life. I have a commitment to the Nap."
TV sets have always been her school
Growing up on TV meant not attending a regular school every day. Instead, Kiernan Shipka attended an independent study program throughout high school. As she explains in this November 2018 interview with Seventeen, she didn’t experience the typical stresses of going to school every day, but she did get to experience the social aspect of high school:
"I never went to a regular high school. But that does not mean I did not go to high school dances and parties — I found a way. I always felt like I had all the social benefits of going to a school without having to wake up and actually go to one. I think there’s probably a lot of high school drama that I missed out on. I’m happy I didn’t have to go through a lot of it."
Now, working on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina with other actors around her own age, Shipka feels like she’s experiencing what college life would be like. She told Vulture in September 2018, "I’m like, Oh my God, this is like my dorm! It’s the whole thing."
She cast a love spell on an A-lister’s son
While her on-screen persona is enveloped in a love triangle that us foolish mortals could only dream of, Kiernan Shipka has stated she is too busy to be dating or be in a serious relationship. Despite this, the scene stealer was spotted arm and arm in West Hollywood with model Charlie Oldman, son of Oscar-winning actor, Gary Oldman, in March 2019. The pair seemingly confirmed their relationship via Oldman’s Instagram post of the two snuggled up, along with a heart emoji for the caption.
While fans of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are likely disappointed that Shipka’s love isn’t Ross Lynch, who plays Harvey Kinkel, or Gavin Leatherwood, who plays Nick Scratch, it is nice to see that the young star has found happiness. However, at the time of writing, Shipka has yet to post any photos of Oldman on her own Instagram, or confirm their romantic relationship, which means any and all shipping of a real-life Shipka-Lynch-Leatherwood relationship are still allowed.
She’s "Mad" for fashion
Playing Sally Draper on Mad Men had its benefits, including an incredible wardrobe. While Kiernan Shipka played a stylish teen on TV, she carried over her character’s fashion sense into her real life. The actress developed a bold sense of style on the set of Mad Men thanks to wardrobe fittings and being exposed to beautiful costumes on the set.
She explained in a March 2016 interview with W Magazine, "Mad Men introduced me to the power of fashion. I realized that style could tell a story." The actress also credits the show’s costume designer, Janie Bryant, for inspiring her fashion choices, explaining to Vanity Fair in June 2012, "She taught me not to be afraid of color, number one. …She’s taught me, and I think she’s taught a lot of people, about vintage fashion and how it truly was."
With a teacher like Bryant, it’s no surprise that Shipka’s style would evolve into bold and colorful looks that would land her on best dressed lists and make her a fixture at fashion shows over the years.
16 was a formative year for her
For Sabrina Spellman on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, experiencing a 16th birthday is a life-changing event for the witch. In real-life, Kiernan Shipka experienced her own change when she turned 16, when she had just finished filming Mad Men (which aired its series finale in 2015), and no longer had a steady job. The change allowed the young star to experience life as a regular teenager.
In an October 2018 interview with the LA Times, Shipka explained, "I really took that time to be a teenager. …Just figuring life out and sort of living for myself. Sixteen was a really formative year. It was definitely a figuring-out period. Nothing new was quite on the horizon and I was sort of like, ‘What’s happening? What will I do?’ I learned to at least try to live in whatever moment I was in."
It was during this "figuring-out" period where Shipka would tackle a role in the psychological thriller, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, which impressed Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and helped lead to her casting as Sabrina Spellman just two years later.
She has the voice of an angel
Kiernan Shipka is undoubtedly talented. She can act, rock a mean pant suit, and cook a delicious meal to showcase on her perfectly curated Instagram. And she can add another talent to the long list: singing.
In Season 2 of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Sabrina Spellman casts a spell over an audience by singing to them. Many fans may be surprised to learn that it was actually Shipka singing the tune — and it wasn’t the first time she belted out a song on screen. As Decider reported in April 2019, the star sang for the Season 2 episode, as well as a Season 1 episode. She also performed a melody for her 2015 film The Blackcoat’s Daughter.
Fans who follow the cast of Sabrina know how much the kids enjoy posting videos of themselves singing songs together behind-the-scenes, and they can watch this November 2018 YouTube video compilation from Hollywood Sniper II.
She started her career on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Before landing her breakout role as Sally Draper on Mad Men, Kiernan Shipka got her start on Jimmy Kimmel Live when she was six years old. The actress appeared in a variety of comedy skits for the show, with the most memorable one being her 2006 portrayal as a student in Britney Spears’ dance class.
The star reminisced about the role when she returned to Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2015 while promoting Mad Men. As Vanity reported in April 2015, Shipka looked back fondly on her appearance because it was the location where she learned she had booked the role of Sally Draper on Mad Men: "I feel like this is really coming full circle, because I booked Mad Men in the Jimmy Kimmel parking lot."
Shipka returned to Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2018 while promoting The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Kimmel showed a clip from one of her earlier appearances on his show, and he congratulated her on all of her success.
She was worried about her career before landing the role of Sabrina
After Mad Men ended in 2015, Kiernan Shipka felt frustrated in her struggle to find acting roles that resonated with her. She scored roles on Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, FX’s Feud, American Dad!, and more, but Shipka had to work really hard to obtain those roles. When the opportunity to play Sabrina Spellman in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina came, the actress campaigned hard for the role.
As she explains to Refinery29 in an October 2018 interview, "I was a little bit, down in the dumps, frustrated actor for a second. …It wasn’t like things were flying my way, left and right. I was sort of hustling, and [the role of Sabrina] came my way, and I knew I couldn’t give it up. I fought really hard [for it] and put a lot of work in."
That said, Shipka didn’t have to work too hard to convince showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa that she was perfect for the role. The actress was already on the radar of the show’s creator, who was ecstatic when he learned Shipka was interested in the role, as he told Entertainment Weekly in October 2018.
She really wants a Sabrina/Riverdale crossover episode
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Riverdale both take place in the same universe — Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the showrunner for both shows, as well as the chief creative officer for Archie Comics — and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was originally intended to be air on the CW alongside Riverdale, before eventually finding its home on Netflix. All things considered, fans have been expecting a crossover episode ever since The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was announced.
And one of the biggest supporters of a crossover episode is Sabrina Spellman herself. During in October 2018 interview with Live with Kelly and Ryan, Kiernan Shipka expressed her excitement and idea for a potential crossover episode.
Shipka also explained her episode idea to Entertainment Tonight in November 2018, "I think Archie [K.J. Apa] should just wander over to Greendale. Like, he goes on runs. He’s athletic. He can run into Greendale one day. …Right? I honestly think that Archie hopping on over into our show would be awesome. My main pitch is always that. … Forget the Gargoyle King! What is happening in the town over?"
Like Sabrina Spellman, Kiernan Shipka is an activist
Along with using her social media to share pictures of her food and funny videos from the set of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Kiernan Shipka has used her Instagram account to raise awareness for issues that are important to her. In September 2018, Shipka shared this Instagram photo with her (at the time of writing) over 3 million followers to promote the "10 Featured Teachers campaign," which raises funds for teachers.
Shipka told Seventeen in November 2018 about the campaign and discussed how social media can give individuals a voice on a platform that didn’t previously exist: "Recently on Instagram, I did the 10 Featured Teachers [campaign]. …It was very gratifying to see it actually have an impact in individual people’s lives and to [watch] thank-you videos from [people] who are just so, so happy to have a book that they’ve wanted… it’s just amazing. So more of that to come, for sure."
She’s Kiernan Shipka and she WILL NOT sign it away!
For Kiernan Shipka, one of the biggest reasons she was drawn to the role of Sabrina Spellman in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was Sabrina’s strong will and the show’s feminist content. As she explained to Seventeen in a November 2018 interview, "I gravitate toward feminist content because that’s just who I am. But there was something so cool about this show being so feminist, while still having this very separate fantastical element. It’s sort of set in this "timeless" period where there aren’t many references to pop culture, or what’s happening now or what happened in the past. But at the same [time], it’s related to what’s happening in many different ways and resonates on so many levels."
In the same interview, Shipka also explained that playing a strong female character who risks her life for issues she believes in has truly inspired her to be a better person: "To play someone completely and utterly passionate, and who doesn’t back down, makes me want to be the best person I can possibly be."