Prepare yourself, America. The Queen is about to enter the building. Danielle Macdonald is one of the most surprising breakout musical artists of the summer, but not in the way you might imagine. Macdonald transforms into a hip-hop sensation playing Patricia Dombrowski in “Patti Cake$,” a film where she stars as an aspiring rapper from New Jersey. “It’s all been a really incredible experience,” the Australian actress told AXS at the 9th Annual Heath Ledger Scholarship Dinner, which was recently hosted by Australians in Film.
Not being a rapper (or from New Jersey) made Macdonald an interesting choice for the role, but one glimpse at her in action will have you desperately waiting for Patti’s album to drop. "Killa P," as she’s also called, was dreamt up by Geremy Jasper, who has Macdonald starring alongside Bridget Everett and Cathy Moriarty, in a movie that is equal parts touching and talent-filled. The film won over hearts and critics alike at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
“Overall it was a challenging role but it was a really fun experience,” Macdonald shared. “I think my favorite thing about Patti is that she’s ballsy. She’s kind of unapologetic in a way and I really like that. She’s trying to figure out who she is and then owns that; flaws and all.”
“I think the ultimate message,” she continued, “is figuring out who you are and having the confidence to go for your dreams. And not letting anyone stop you along the way. Also that nothing’s perfect, but you kind of work through it, relationships and all.”
So who was the unlikely rapper’s inspiration for the role? “Biggie,” she tells AXS. “I think Biggie was the one who really helped me get into the mindset of Patti. That was my main thing. But I listened to a lot of different people and I practiced a lot of different songs from a lot of different artists.” And as for Patti’s dream collaboration. “It would be Nicki Minaj,” Macdonald laughed. “I think she would like that. I think she likes her sassiness and her confidence, for sure.”
As the evening came full circle, Mojean Aria was announced as the winner of this year’s Heath Ledger Scholarship. He gave a moving speech recounting the time he met Ledger as a child and how it made him never want to give up on his own dreams.
“Heath Ledger was a beacon of art. To feel that you in a way have his blessings could not be more invigorating,” Aria shared with AXS. "Especially when you’re getting further introduced to wider audiences reputation holds so much stake and to have the greatest in the industry vouch for you as well as the support of Heath's legacy is such a beautiful responsibility,” he added. “One I promise to hold up.”
For more on Mojean, be sure to stay up to date with Australians in Film. As for “Patti Cake$,” the movie hits theaters on Aug. 18.