by LINDA FRABL | photos by Soul of Photography

Star of the Stage

Even at the young age of 13, Max Leadley, a seventh grade honor roll student at The Nativity School in Rancho Santa Fe, has proven he can accomplish whatever goal he sets for himself. With a number of acting roles under his belt, such as Peter Pan, the Artful Dodger in Oliver!, Pumbaa in The Lion King Jr., and Alex the Lion in Madagascar Jr., it wasn’t until he decided to audition for the role of Buddy the Elf in the Trinity Theatre Company’s production of Elf Junior that Max truly strove for what he wanted.

Max recalled, “Buddy became a dream role for me, so I found a theater company that was putting on the show. I prepared for my callback and audition non-stop by watching Elf the movie and various stage productions on YouTube, as well as working with my vocal coach, Brandon Sherman, on character exercises and songs from the show. Determination is exactly what you need to chase your dreams.”


Name: Max Leadley (13)
School: The Nativity School
Grade: 7
Parents: Matt and Dr. Melanie Leadley
Sibling: Maddie Leadley (4)
Favorite Local Spots: Del Mar beach, Del Mar Fairgrounds, Leucadia Pizza, Cinepolis Del Mar


After being cast as Buddy, Max continued to hone his acting skills to master the nuances of the character. He explained, “Playing Buddy was not only mentally and physically challenging, but also vocally demanding. I grew so much as an actor, singer, and overall performer while learning such an amazing role.”

Though Max is open about participating in theater, he thinks he might not appear that way at first glance, as he is also an athlete. “I’m unsure if I would go with a theater kid who plays sports or an athlete who acts, but I do love both.” Max plays water polo for Pacific Polo and football and basketball at Nativity.

“Determination is exactly what you need to chase your dreams.”

In addition to acting and sports, Max is on the Academic Decathlon team and leadership council at his school, takes lessons in voice, guitar, and ukulele, and writes scripts and songs. On top of all this, Max also gives back to the community through Teen Volunteers in Action. “I try to keep balance in my life and enjoy participating in lots of different activities,” he smiled.

In the future, Max wants to act on Broadway, but he also plans to study law at Harvard. He professed, “Acting is my biggest dream, but I am also fascinated by the law. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get my law degree and also perform on either Broadway or on the big screen!”