Madylin Sweeten thinks that Hollywood can be pretty dumb. The Everybody Loves Raymond actress is peeved about the unspoken showbiz fashion edict that prevented her from donning the same dress twice. Since she wore her favorite pink-and-blue outfit at last February’s SAG Awards, she couldn’t be seen wearing the same number at last month’s Emmys. “That’s a stupid rule,” says Sweeten, 8. “I like that dress, and I should be able to wear it again if I want to.”
Onscreen and off, Sweeten is used to getting her way. As Ray Romano’s daughter Ally on Raymond, she makes her 3’3″ presence felt. “She’s a lot like my own daughter Alexandra,” says Romano. “She’s a take-charge, make-up-the-rules kind of personality.”
Sweeten has been that way since age 3, when her parents—documentary filmmaker Tim and his wife, Elizabeth, who manages Madylin’s career—began entering her in beauty pageants near their Mullin, Texas, home. (They now live in L.A.) “She would win and win,” says Elizabeth. “She would talk up the judges, while the other kids were pretty shy.” Soon, Sweeten chatted herself into the 1996 TV movie A Promise to Carolyn, and Raymond followed later that year.
The Raymond set is more like All in the Family for Sweeten: Her twin brothers Sullivan and Sawyer, 4, play her two onscreen siblings. “I like playing make-believe,” says Sweeten. “And my brothers do it with me, so it’s fun. It’s almost better than chocolate ice cream.”