Why Demi Lovato's Sister Madison De La Garza Decided to Get Sober

Madison De La Garza is seeing the world through fresh eyes. She spoke to E! News about her new projects, being inspired by sister Demi Lovato and her idea for a Desperate Housewives reboot.

By Natalie Finn Mar 21, 2023 9:15 PMTags
Watch: Madison De La Garza Says Sister Demi Lovato INSPIRES Her to Be Open

The horizon has never looked brighter for Madison De La Garza.

"I feel free," Demi Lovato's 21-year-old half-sister told E! News' Francesca Amiker in an exclusive interview as she described how getting sober has changed her life. "The world seems lighter and more colorful."

Confirming during the March 15 sit-down that she was 248 days into her "journey of recovery," Madison shared that she was "really struggling" before she realized she needed to take action.

"I went through a lot of things last year that made me want to stay in bed, made me want to hide from the world," the former Desperate Housewives star explained. "My best friend was substances and it disconnected me from those around me. When I realized it started to affect my relationship with not only my friends, but specifically my relationship with my mom, that's when I knew I had to make a change."

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Calling mom Dianna De La Garza her "best friend," Madison stressed, "She's my everything. I would do anything for her."

Now substance-free, the actress and filmmaker admitted, "things are easier. I just took a trip to New York and I wasn't panicking because I was tied down to a substance. I wasn't thinking, 'Oh, what if I can't use this? What if I don't have my crutch?'"

But more importantly, she continued, "I have been helping people who are going through the same thing as I have. I have a lot of friends who looked to me and said, 'Hey, I'm gonna go get help, because I saw that you got help and it changed your life. And I want that freedom that you have.'"


Madison has found strength in "living by example," she said, "just like how Demi's life has been an example for me. Now I get to be that example for other people, and I could not be happier. I'm grateful for that."

Demi, 30, has been unabashedly raw over the years about mental health, substance abuse and the setbacks she's experienced during her own recovery journey, including a near-fatal overdose in 2018 that left her with long-term health complications.

"She obviously gives me a lot of great sister advice," Madison said, "but I think it's more powerful to see her in action. I've started to share my personal story and I would have never, ever, ever done that if it wasn't for her. Her honesty, her bravery and being an open book, I think that is what drives me."

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Madison also learned from Demi that there's no point in editing that open book to make it an easier read for others.

"The best thing that I've learned from her is that, anything you do, anything you say, someone's not going to like it," Madison said. "You're never going to please everyone. So you might as well be yourself and say what you have to say and tell your truth."


And that's what she's doing in her upcoming short film Delaying Angels, which she described as being about "those family members and friends who have passed that look on and take care of you while they're in the afterlife." Madison wrote, produced, directed and stars in the film, and it's dedicated to her maternal grandparents, Perry and Sue Hart, who died in 2020 and 2022, respectively.

So, it really doesn't get more personal than that.

"It's like my baby," Madison admitted with a smile. "If someone were to dislike it, I feel like that's them disliking my soul. I poured my whole heart into this project—and it is the most meaningful project that I've done so far."

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But the veteran actor—who was only 6 when she started playing Juanita Solis, the daughter of Eva Longoria's character on Desperate Housewives—has approached all of her work lately with intention, noting that as a "young Latina filmmaker, I take my job very seriously because I know I'm representing a lot of people."  

Madison, who studied screenwriting at California's Chapman University, stepped away from acting years ago, discouraged at the time by the "stereotyping" and "hints of discrimination" she saw in casting notices.


"As a plus-sized Latina woman—those identities together and separate—there wasn't a place for us as the leading role," the Dallas native recalled. "I was always going out as the best friend or the comedic relief, or even the token minority in roles. And I saw there were a lot of auditions that called for 'all ethnicities welcome.' To me, that just said, 'We don't care what kind of minority you are, as long as you're a minority and we can check that box off in our casting process.'"

To put it mildly, she continued, "that was extremely upsetting." Hence Madison's determination to start creating the opportunities she wanted to see more of.

"That's why I decided to go behind the camera," she said, "because I felt like it was incredibly important to step back and start directing and writing and creating the stories that need to be told instead of just playing a role in someone else's story."

Watching her best friend Logan Binstock direct the 2017 short film The Imbalancing Act, which Madison wrote, inspired the then-15-year-old to follow suit one day.

Desperate Housewives: Where Are They Now?

"Seeing a young woman be in the director's chair and running the show made me realize, maybe this is something that I could do as well," Madison said. '"So ever since then, I've been directing short films here and there."

And only recently—"I want to say last year," Madison noted—did she finally feel that there was a space for her in front of the camera again "because the industry has changed and become more accepting."

But she's still busy behind the camera, too: In addition to Delaying Angels, she also has Surprise coming out, a short about a video-conference surprise party gone awry that was shot entirely on Zoom and stars TikTok creators from four different countries.

"I felt like it was incredibly important to show the world what was possible through the power of filmmaking," Madison said. "And this was a challenge." Dealing with different time zones and technical difficulties familiar to anyone who's ever used Zoom, the cast were "such troopers," the director said, crediting writer-producer Max Marlow with assembling their diverse group of talent.

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Also in the digital realm, Madison's got a Desperate Housewives podcast in the works to dish about her days on the juicy ABC dramedy that left a massive footprint on the carefully manicured lawn of pop culture in the mid-'00s.

"I was only 6 to 10 years old, which is a very formative time in a child's life," she said, "and I like to say that I was lucky enough to be raised by a whole village of people."


In addition to Eva Longoria and Ricardo Chavira, who played her tumultuously married parents, Gaby and Carlos Solis, she recalled, "it was the sound guys and the prop guys and my set teacher, and all of these people stuck with me throughout all of those years. They just wanted to see me happy."

The experience taught her "everything I know about hitting your mark, and staying professional and remembering lines," she said. "But I also learned how to pick yourself up when you're having a bad day and how to stand up for yourself."

So yes, she would be up for playing Juanita again. In fact, because the question comes up so often, her fans have already signed off on her idea for a Desperate Housewives revival about the now grown-up children of all those Wisteria Lane drama queens.

"I always say, if I was asked to be in hair and makeup at 5 a.m. tomorrow morning for a reboot, I would be there absolutely 100 percent," Madison said. "I think it would be iconic."

Definitely a story worth telling.

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