From the Circus Ring to Outer Space: Maxwell Jenkins

At just 3 years of age, Maxwell Jenkins stepped into the Midnight Circus Ring. His feet were so small then, that both of them fit into a single hand of the Ringmaster (his Dad) as he precariously raised Maxwell high over his head. The audience would be terribly nervous and incredibly silent until Maxwell looked out and smiled and waved like a 3-year-old on a swing.

Relief and applause! For audiences all across Chicago, this was the beginning of a decade of watching Maxwell Jenkins grow up in the circus.

Through the years, Max would practice new circus skills and bring those into the ring: tightwire, juggling, mandolin and more. Two years ago Maxwell made his solo debut performing a crowd-pleasing rola-bola act. Max (along with sister Samantha) became known as the “circus kids” throughout Chicago. Little did audiences know that when not in the ring, or at his neighborhood public school, Maxwell was also creating quite an acting resume for himself.

At the ripe old age of 12, Maxwell has had a short but impactful acting career. He made his on-screen debut under the direction of Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) in ABC’s Betrayal. He followed that up by working with Chicago natives and film pioneers Lana & Lilly Wachowski (The Matrix) in Sense8 for two seasons on Netflix. Maxwell made his feature film debut alongside Gerard Butler in A Family Man. A big departure from his circus work, Maxwell played the role of a young boy fighting leukemia.

It was during the circus season in 2016 when Maxwell received the news that he would be playing the iconic role of Will Robinson in the Netflix reboot of Irwin Allen’s classic series, Lost in Space. “I was so excited!” Max said, “My manager called while we were having dinner and simply said, ‘Danger, Will Robinson! Congratulations, Max, you’re going to space - well, actually Vancouver!’ ”

So in January 2017, after the circus tent had been packed away, Maxwell boarded a plane to Vancouver to spend the next 7 months filming the 10-episode season of Lost in Space. “I was really homesick at first. I brought my juggling clubs and my rola-bola, and in between scenes and school on set, I would practice circus,” Max recalls. “After a while, even when I was comfortable and at home in Vancouver, I still practiced circus as a way to get rid of stress and also to get ready for the 2017 tour!”

When asked about what is next, Maxwell says, “Well, first and foremost, I am hoping for a season 2 of Lost in Space. I absolutely love getting to be Will Robinson, and the cast and crew were so amazing. They have really become like family to me.” When asked about his future in Midnight Circus, he says, “Oh, man! Midnight Circus is always my home and family. I look forward to getting back in the ring with my sister Sam, my Mom, my Dad, and all of the amazing acrobats of Midnight Circus who are and will always be my family! I guess I’m really lucky to have both my circus family and my space family!”