Mckenna Grace: Who is the actress that plays Esther Keyes on Handmaid’s Tale?

Mckenna Grace
Mckenna Grace is the 14 year old star of the film Gifted. Pic credit: ©

Mckenna Grace is the newest face to star in the popular television show Handmaid’s Tale and fans have been curious to know more about the young actress.

Who is Mckenna Grace?

Grace, 14, has been acting since she was young, nabbing small roles in television shows like Crime Scene Investigation as a young Abby Fisher and Vampire Diaries as a young Caroline.

She garnered more attention after scoring a repeat role on The Young and the Restless from 2013-2015. It wasn’t until she won the role of child genius Mary in the 2017 movie Gifted that she became more well-known and recognizable as an actress.

Grace found more footing in the acting world with another repeat role in the popular television series Once Upon a Time, playing a young Emma (Jennifer Morrison played the adult version of Emma, a young woman who discovers that she is part of an alternate fairy-tale world).

Subsequent roles included portraying young Tonya Harding in the film I, Tonya, a young girl scout in the quirky film Troop Zero, and enjoying a repeat role in Fuller House from 2016-2020.

What does she think of her role in Handmaid’s Tale?

Now, Grace is exploring a more serious side with her portrayal of Esther Keyes, a teenage “wife” of a commander, in Handmaid’s Tale. Grace spoke to Elle magazine recently about her character and why it was important to her to portray someone who’s age was true to her own age in real life.

“It’s funny because I’ll make a joke that, ‘Yeah, I’m doing this right now. I got a husband or something.’ And people are like, ‘How old is your character?’ I’m like, “14.” And they’re like, ‘What? That doesn’t make sense.'”

“But it meant a lot that I got to actually play the age Mrs. Keyes is. I did think it was important for an actual 14-year-old to play the role, especially since this 14-year-old is being raped and abused and sold off, all of these things that are happening to 14-year-olds every single day.”

“If it makes people upset or uncomfortable that an actual 14-year-old is having to talk about how she was raped and it’s acting, then maybe that will make you want to do something for actual girls who are going through this,” she shared.

After being asked if she had watched the show prior to joining the team, which includes lead actress Elizabeth Moss, Grace admitted that her parents wouldn’t allow her to watch it given the intense and heavy themes that dominate the show. Eventually, her parents relented and Grace talked about how it felt to see it with her mom and gain a better understanding of where her character was going to end up fitting into the story.

“I was never allowed to watch Handmaid’s. I remember wanting to, because my parents really like it. After I got it, my mom’s like, ‘Well, I mean, okay.’ Then we binge-watched all the seasons together. I remember sitting in our hotel room while shooting Handmaid’s and finishing the final episode. I was like, ‘But what happens next?’ Then I was like, ‘wait, I’m shooting the episode of what happens next. What am I talking about?'”

In a moment that would resonate with most young teens, Grace adorably opened up to Elle about not feeling so comfortable still with watching the more intimate scenes in the show, telling them, “There was a good bit of skipping, but also because I get uncomfortable in intimate scenes; I still cover my eyes.”

Grace can be seen next in the Jason Reitman film Ghostbusters: Afterlife which is due out in June of this year.

The Handmaid’s Tale returned to Huly on April 27.

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