Mckenna Grace began her acting career at the age of 6 and by the following year, in 2013, she had her first credited role on a television sitcom. On The Goodwin Games, about three estranged siblings reunited by their late father’s will to play elaborate games with each other in order to receive their inheritance, Grace played the younger version of Becki Newton’s Chloe Goodwin. As it happens, this role foreshadowed the years ahead for the rising talent.
Grace, now 12, experienced many acting challenges, including one opposite Chris Evans in Gifted, but she’s better known as the younger version of that character from that thing: the younger version of Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, the younger version of Theo Crain in The Haunting of Hill House, the younger version of Sabrina in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the younger version of Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel.
But the “younger” roles run deeper.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2014)
In the episode “Dead Woods,” Jorja Fox’s Sara reopens a 10-year-old case of a family murder-suicide when Abbey Fisher, the surviving daughter, has a new memory that suggests her father didn’t commit the crime after all. With Ashlee Füss playing Abbey, Grace played the same character in flashback sequences.
The Vampire Diaries (2015)
Grace had a two-episode presence on the CW drama as young Caroline Forbes. The present-day version of the character, played by Candice King, goes through some stuff when her mom dies.
Once Upon a Time (2015-2017)
Jennifer Morrison valiantly led the cast of ABC’s Once Upon a Time as Emma Swan, a role she shared with Grace. Four episodes of the series featured the child actor playing the younger version of this heroine between 2015 and 2017. One such episode highlights a mysterious encounter with a stranger in a movie theater that teased big things to come for young Emma.
I, Tonya (2017)
“Physically, it was the most challenging role I’ve ever done before because I had to learn to ice skate, and I’ve never done ice skating before,” Grace, age 10 at the time, said in an interview with The Boston Globe of playing young Tonya Harding. “I’d fall and I was all beaten up but I had to get up and keep trying.”
The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Netflix subscribers had a new binging craze when The Haunting of Hill House, based on the Shirley Jackson book, hit the platform. The series followed the tragedy of the Crain family, both in their younger years and later with the children as adults. Grace played the young version of Theo, whose hands give her a supernatural sensitivity to ghostly phenomena. “She sees lots of scary things sometimes,” the young actress says in EW’s exclusive behind-the-scenes video.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)
“When Kiernan heard we were doing Li’l Sabrina, she texted me a picture of her with Mckenna and said, ‘You have to get Mckenna. She’s like me as a little girl and we’re dead ringers,’” CAOS series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa told TheWrap. “And then we reached out [to Mckenna] and said, ‘Do you want to be Li’l Sabrina for the Christmas special?’ And she said yeah. And it was as easy as that! It came from Kiernan though.”
Grace appeared in “A Midwinter’s Tale,” the first holiday special for the series, in a flashback scene of young Sabrina and young Susie going to visit a mall Santa.
Captain Marvel (2019)
When Captain Marvel begins, Carol Danvers only has flashes of her life on earth before she received her powers and joined the Kree in the cosmos. One of them features Grace as the young girl pushing herself to go higher, further, faster in a go-kart race. On the film’s red carpet in Los Angeles, Grace said of Carol, “I think that she’s just always had this strength inside of her and it just bursts out and she’s just this super awesome powerful female superhero.”