KATHERINE MCNAMARA [SHADOWHUNTERS]
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Current Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Nickname: Kat, Katie-Mac, Kitty, Red, Kiddo (but that’s only Isaiah)
Who is Katherine? How would you describe yourself in a nutshell?
Oh well that’s quite a big question! I guess in a nutshell I would say I am a type A workaholic who is also an artist. I am a student of life, business, literature, and humanity. I wear too much black, drink too much coffee, and eat too many carbs. My drink is scotch neat.
My guilty pleasures are soft pretzels, Mexican food, and cookie dough ice cream.
I am happiest when I am laughing and having fun with people I love or when I am creating characters and being immersed in a new world. I’m not sure I know how to exactly answer this because I’m still learning it myself. But that’s sort of the exciting thing about life isn't it?
You are always learning and growing and changing and becoming something new.
Where are you originally from? Tell us about your hometown?
Originally I’m from a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. I loved growing up there because you could easily get to the city or to the middle of nowhere. The midwest is extremely causal, warm, and full of hard working people. Living there taught me work ethic and to appreciate family. I have solid roots there and with the transient nature of my life, I’m so thankful to have that background.
Tell us about the story on how acting started for you?
I never intended to be an actor. Growing up, my dream was to work in finance as a financial advisor, CFO, or to run my own company.
One day, I ran into a family friend who was directing a community theater production and needed a dancer. I had been a dancer my whole life and was the kid who would try anything, so I said why not! As soon as I stepped on stage on opening night, I felt the energy of the audience, the heat of the lights, and I felt instantly at home.
I knew in that moment with absolute clarity that this is what I was put on this earth to do. I had no doubt in my mind that I had to be an actor - and I’ve never looked back.
How is it playing Clary Fray in Shadow Hunters?
I love this character. She has so many facets to her personality to explore. She also continues to grow and mature as the story progresses which is indispensable for a show that we hope has some longevity. Clary is flawed.
She is growing up so she makes mistakes and sacrifices even though she has the best of intentions. What is so important about her character is that she never gives up. Even if she falls flat on her face and messes everything up in the process, she will always pick herself up and try again. She has an undying hope and a relentless perseverance.
I feel a huge amount of responsibility in taking on a character such as this from a book series as I have seen first hand how passionate the fans are. People attach themselves to these characters. They connect with them and relate to them on a very personal level. As such, I want to do everything I can to take care of her and make her come to life on screen in a way that does her justice.
Do you do most of the stunts in the show?
I do! The fact that I am able to do most of my own stunts is one of my favorite elements of the show. I have learned so much over the past few years about fitness and health and I’ve never been in better shape!
Our fitness trainer is incredible and curates workouts for each of us to achieve exactly the physicality we want. On top of that, our stunt coordinator and his team are masters in several martial arts and boxing and have been training us in all of them.
As such, we are learning the principles and skills of the martial arts themselves that can then be applied to the choreography. We are so fortunate to have such an incredible team working on the show who are invested in training us and helping us grow our skills. It adds so much to the quality of the show as a whole.
How do you channel her complex character interwoven in this complicated magical worlds and plot points?
I love being on a show that has fantasy elements. I go to work every day and literally get to make magic for a living. I learn so much every day at work about the practical and computer animated effects used on the show. Its fascinating!
Our teams that work to make us look like badass warriors and magical beings are so talented and genuinely excited to create these worlds and powers. On top of that, having a show with a cast of characters that is so intertwined gives endless story possibilities. Being a character that has a toe in every world, I quite enjoy it because I get to work with just about every one of the cast members at some point or another.
We are a very tight knit group that genuinely enjoys spending time together so I love having time with everyone. Additionally, each relationship brings a different chemistry and qualities out of each character. Having a plot such as this allows for audiences to see as many facets of each character as possible.
You have an impressive array of numerous TV and Film credits under your belt. Out of all the characters that you have played, who is your favorite character persona and why?
I could never pick a favorite! It’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. Each character brings new challenges and something new to learn and grow from. That’s what I love about my job - I am constantly living in different worlds, tones, genres, and creating characters that are so diverse. I use my experiences to inform the characters I play and as such they become I part of me and I of them. Each one is my favorite for different aspects of them.
You seem to have a really good balance of your career and education. It is highly impressive and so inspiring for a lot of young people out there. What is the trick in balancing your time and priorities? What advice can you give the youth to achieve their dreams and goals?
First of all, thank you! Education has always been a priority to me.
From a young age, the importance of education was instilled in me in that it is the one thing in life that will always be with you. Your knowledge can never be taken away from you no matter what happens in life and you can never have too much of it.
I am a perpetual student. Even now I am pursuing my Masters degree in Literature.
The only trick per se is just to care about what you are pursuing. If you make whatever goal you set a priority and you have the desire to complete the task, you will find a way to make it happen. Also, coffee helps.
If you can describe acting with food, what would it be and why?
h so interesting. Acting in terms of food is like cooking the perfect meal but really taking your time. The kitchen would be a mess, spices, scraps, tools, scattered as you take pinches and pieces and dashes to craft the perfect concoction.
You don't know exactly how it will turn out, but you know what you are intending to create. Through the process of cooking the meal, the course might change, a flavor combination might surprise you as the different ingredients react to create new flavors and further add depth to the dish. If you allow yourself the freedom to create, the end result is a dish that is part of who you are but also informed by the process of cooking the dish, something full of layers, flavor, texture, nuance, and the hard work and care you put in to the making of it.
Any upcoming projects that can get your fans excited?
I’ve been working on music for years as a passion project and I’m finally getting it all together to release. Stay tuned for that soon. :)
I have so many dream projects the list is endless. I have aspirations to work in so many different genres, media, and characters, I couldn't even name them all. I’m a chameleon!
Ultimately, I want to keep creating interesting characters and pushing myself to learn and grow as an artist and as a human being.
Book you’re currently reading.
What keeps you busy aside from acting?
Travel. I love to travel and am trying to make it more of a priority. If there is anything I’m going to put time and money into, making memories with people I love is absolutely worth it. I also have gotten really into fitness since the start of Shadowhunters.
I have learned so much about health and fitness that I actually enjoy working out and participating in the lifestyle. Additionally, my masters keeps me pretty busy.
Currently binge watching
Masters of Sex, Breaking Bad, American Horror Story, Catastrophy, and Big Bang Theory
Any advice you can give to any aspiring actors out there?
My best advice to anyone pursuing acting or any passion, go for it! Find a passion that truly makes you happy and pursue it with every fibre of your being.
The road will not be easy, you will need a thick skin and a fearless heart but it will be worth it in the long run. There is a Thoreau quote that I live by that encompasses this idea - “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
If you had the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?
Actually, I do have a charity organization for which I am an ambassador. Girl Up is an amazing organization under the UN Foundation umbrella that focuses on promoting education, health, safety, and leadership of girls all over the world. What makes Girl Up so special is that they encourage girls in developed countries to help girls in developing countries by creating platforms for programs to target specific challenges these girls face. In doing so, they are changing the tide of the opportunities and education of young girls and also instilling in young generations the importance of global egalitarianism. I feel so fortunate to be a small part of the work they do.
See Katherine as Clary Fray on SHADOWHUNTERS only on Freeform!