The Mortal Instruments fans had a rough go with the initial film adaptation of the beloved Cassandra Clare young adult book series — which is why FreeForm’s Shadowhunters has fans excited and pumped to see the story and characters being given another chance for the screen.
Kick ass protagonist Clary Fray — normal girl turned demon-hunter when she is exposed to a whole new world of creatures and, well, drama — is once again being brought to life, but this time for a slightly smaller screen, by Katherine McNamara. Most recently we saw the actress opposite Dylan O’Brian in The Scorch Trials, the second instalment in the The Maze Runner franchise — so bringing beloved stories to life seems to be a specially of hers.
At just 20 years old, Katherine has a list of television and film credits that almost make us want to put on pants and go outside — almost. The actress first began performing on stage with some of Broadway’s biggest stars, including Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury, going on to star in Disney TV films like Girl vs. Monster and guest in shows like, our personal favourite, The Fosters.
Now, McNamara is slaying demons in FreeForm’s Shadowhunters, bringing to life Cassandra Clare’s fantasy YA series that has spun off multiple other series in the magical Shadowhunter world.
We had the chance to chat with Katherine over the phone about bringing iconic fictional characters to life, the importance of portraying a strong female character on screen, what fans can expect from the Shadowhunters series — which is now available on Netflix— and more.
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“Since Shadowhunters started, everything about my life has changed,” says Katherine McNamara (you probably know her as Clary Fray from the Freeform series). “To have people out there who are as equally passionate about the show makes all of the blood, sweat, and tears worthwhile, but I’m still just me. I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be an adult, all while being thrown into this world of fantasy.”
But recently, Katherine has been working on changing reality in a major way—she’s using her passion and platform for good as an ambassador for Girl Up, a United Nations-sponsored initiative that helps and encourages girls in developing countries. “Little differences can add up to make a change,” Katherine explains of her work. “For example, money raised has been used to purchase bikes. We’ll take a bike directly to a girl who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get to school.” And good news for those of you looking to make a change: This is something anyone can get involved in. “I’ve met several high school students who are ambassadors in their own right and are huge advocates,” she notes. “We have to do whatever we can to make our world a better place.”
The first step? Starting a dialogue about important issues right here and now. She does this with her co-stars. “The cast is always talking during hair and makeup,” Katherine says. “We’re such a diverse group, and we spend so much time with each other, so when we have conversations, we bring our own perspective to debate things in a very real way. For example, I had a lot of friends who were really worried about their future over the course of the election. Looking at these people hurting opened my eyes to the issue of passivity and the issue of our generation not feeling like they can make a difference or have a voice. It’s our responsibility to make our voices heard.”
Katherine wanted to share this message on how to incorporate what she calls “positive proactivity” into your daily live. Keep reading for her inspiring words. — Kristie Dash
“They say the only constant in our world is change, and boy, have we ever seen that to be true in recent years. This can be a bit terrifying for some. But this is where we come in. We are a new generation of open-minded individuals, willing to listen to views other than our own. We have the power to initiate the change we want to see in the world, and I believe it is essential that we take advantage of this opportunity. People are choosing to make their voices heard and to speak out for what they feel is right. I applaud those who are choosing to no longer be passive bystanders to the issues in our society. Political and social activism is one of the most important responsibilities we have as members of the national and the global community; however, we have to be sure we take action that has a positive influence, not a negative one.
“At this point in time, we have to unite—as a community, as a generation. We have to take action, speak up, make our voices heard, but do so in a way that is inclusive. Before you lash out with raw emotion, take a moment. Pause. Listen. Assess the situation and find a way to not only highlight the problem at hand but be a part of the solution. Listen to every perspective, not just those that align with your thinking. Educate yourself as to the root of the problem. If you understand the situation fully, from every side, from past to present, you can better serve the change that needs to be made. We have the power, the opportunity, and the passion to ignite positive change and truly make a difference in shaping our world. We as a society are at a turning point. Take a stand. Practice positive proactivity.” — Katherine McNamara
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Some people have a calling. Katherine McNamara has a few. By age 14, already graduated from high school and starring on a Broadway show alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury, it was clear that McNamara was on a fast-track.
Now, the 21-year-old actor best known as “Clary Fray” on Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” is branching out, and plans on expanding her career in every direction that interests her.
From her upcoming debut album to finishing a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University, the multi-faceted young star will stop at nothing -– even sharing with ABC News’ Chief Business, Technology and Economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis that she considers being the CFO of a company, or running her own company, a likely possibility for her future.
In a recent interview on “Real Biz with Rebecca Jarvis,” McNamara talked about everything from how she got her start to the worst piece of advice she’s ever been given, and how she thinks social media affects her generation.
Here are three pieces of wisdom from Katherine McNamara:
1. On being young in the entertainment industry:
“My attorney always makes sure to have time to go over my contracts with me because I have at least 20 questions every time I get a contract, but it helps because then I know exactly what I’m signing,” McNamara said. “I want to know exactly what I’m getting myself into, which so many people I know in this industry have no idea what any of that means.”
It helps that McNamara graduated with honors with a Business degree from Drexel University at age 17. She’s now pursuing a Master of Science in Applied Economics, which sounds like it will come in handy for any contracts and negotiations down the road.
2. How being similar to her character “Clary” is both a “blessing and a curse.”
“It helps because I can relate to her on so many levels, but when it gets to the emotional side of things, a lot of things hit very close to home,” she said.
“Something that’s very interesting is the mother-daughter relationship on the show this season,” shared McNamara. “I don’t necessarily have that with my mother but every young person goes through that in some capacity.”
3. Speaking of family –- what do they think of McNamara’s booming career?
“My whole family is in science and medicine, so this whole world is completely different to them,” she said. “They were supportive, they said, ‘Go follow your dreams, do what you love, just make sure you go to school and get an education.’”
Since landing her first big role on Broadway at 13, McNamara hasn’t had a shortage of work since -– spanning the stage, television and film, and now the music industry.
“Now they’re recognizing the longevity that this can have, and the build that this career can be. It is a marathon, not a sprint, that it will be something that’s going to last, at least for the meantime.”
Katherine McNamara has done more by age twenty than most actresses will do in their careers. She stars on Freeform’s Shadowhunters (the second season premieres in January), appeared on Broadway in A Little Night Music with Angela Lansbury, and got her college degree at seventeen. McNamara is seriously inspiring; along with her acting career, she works with the UN campaign for female empowerment, Girl Up. We loved learning more about her workout routine, how she styles her denim, and why diversity is The New Potato. Read along for our interview with the actress; it’s exactly what you need to power through this #MotivationMonday…
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