As the precocious Sally Draper, Kiernan Shipka was one of the standouts on the fourth season of “Mad Men.” Much was made of her charcter’s struggle to deal with the separation of her parents (played by January Jones and Jon Hamm). Shipka, who is just 11, told Gold Derby senior editors Chris Beachum and Rob Licuria she was thrilled to have been so spotlighted noting eloquently that, “Sally is trying to assert her independence … and she really feels helpless and [also] completely hopeless.”
Her work has not gone unnoticed. Ellen Gray (Philadelphia Inquirer) praised her for, “delivering one of the more subtle performances in a show where over the top is too often a starting point” while Christopher Rosen (Movieline) noted, “there hasn’t been a bigger breakout performer on ‘Mad Men’ this season than Kiernan Shipka. Upped to a series regular for the first time, Shipka has handled her increasingly adult situations … with the aplomb of someone twice her age.” With her TV mom shifting to lead this year, Shipka only faces competition from castmate Christina Hendricks who did land a supporting bid last year.
The Emmys have welcomed younger performers in the past. Kristy McNichol was four days shy of turning 15 in 1977 when she won Drama Supporting Actress for the first of two times for “Family.” Keshia Knight Pulliam (“The Cosby Show”) was the youngest nominee ever when, at age seven, she contended in the Comedy Supporting Actress category in 1986; she lost to Rhea Perlman who picked up the third of her eventual four Emmys for “Cheers.” And, at 13, Fred Savage (“The Wonder Years”) became the youngest lead laffer nominee when he lost to Richard Mulligan (“Empty Nest”) in 1989.