'Molly's Game' Actress Had to Audition to Play Herself

Madison McKinley's role as an actress-model who helps out at Molly Bloom's underground Hollywood poker games was based on her own true-life experiences as the real Bloom's right-hand woman.
Courtesy of Subject
Madison McKinley on the set of 'Molly's Game.'

Madison McKinley, 31, didn't have to invent much of a backstory for her character in Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut, Molly's Game. The person she's playing, an actress-model named Shelby who helps out at Molly Bloom's underground Hollywood poker games, was based on her true-life experiences as the real Bloom's right-hand woman.

"That really was my life," she tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I play a heightened version of myself. ... Watching it come to life is beyond surreal."

Of course, just because she inspired the character (and helped advise Sorkin while he was writing the script) doesn't mean the part was handed to her. She had to audition along with a roomful of other hopefuls. "Having the knowledge of what it was like to be in the room gave me a leg up," says McKinley, who has also had small parts in The Wolf of Wall Street and Orange Is the New Black. "Thankfully, I booked it."

This story first appeared in the Dec. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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