Katherine McNamara – Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments

Photographer Joshua Shultz
Styling Lisa Lindstrom Martinez
Make Up Hendra Nasril
Hair by Chris Dylan
Video by David Feusse Atreyu Smith
PA Jaclyn Prophet
Location Kettle Black
Special thanks Clover Juices
Watch the full behind the scenes video here…

Bellus Magazine (BM):  What inspired you to get into acting?
Katherine McNamara (KM):  I never intended to be an actor. As a kid, I dreamed of going into finance. I was determined to work my way up to becoming the CFO of a multinational company, running my own company, or becoming a financial advisor of sorts. However, all that soon changed when I ran into a family friend who needed a dancer in a community theater show. I had been dancing my whole life as a hobby and was the kid who would try anything. Little did I know, I was about to change the entire path of my life. I will never forget the moment I walked on stage on opening night. I felt the energy of the audience, the heat of the lights, the rush of a live performance and something hit me like a brick wall. I had this moment of absolute clarity that this was what I needed to do for the rest of my life. I knew in that moment that what I was put on this earth to do is to tell stories.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  How do you continue to stay inspired while working towards an acting career?
KM:  I am constantly inspired by a myriad of sources. I love watching other great performances, live or otherwise. I learn something and take a different lesson from each performance. I am also lucky enough to be surrounded by some pretty inspiring individuals that keep me motivated as we grow together in the industry. I am constantly aspiring to improve and diversity. That’s the most exciting part of this job for me – the fact that the possibilities are endless and the learning process is a constant evolution. Its funny though I can find inspiration in just about anything. A beautiful sunset, a good book, a new song on the radio, a little kid riding a bike down the street. I am of the mind that inspiration is all about perspective. If you open yourself up to finding those special moments in life, you will find that they are more apparent. Also, what you do with said inspiration is key. You can appreciate inspiration all you want, but until you do something with it, it will not make a difference in your life. It is a call to action, spark plug, a kick in the ass if you will to start you on your way.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  What’s the story behind how you ended up on the show Shadowhunters?
KM:  Its a rather long one… I’ll attempt to succinctly summarize as best I can. Obviously the network wanted to take their time to be sure to assemble the group of actors that could give the show its best shot, so they took their time in the process and quite understandably so. I auditioned initially about 6 months before I was cast and then didn’t hear anything for a number of months. Then, I got a call asking me to come back in for the director and producers, and that started a whirlwind of about a week of callbacks, director, producer, network, studio, and about every other type of meeting and test you can imagine. I also chemistry tested with both Dom (Jace) and Alberto (Simon). Dom and I were already friends so having a familiar face in the room made the process quite a bit more relaxed – it allowed me to play a bit more in our session. Alberto and I met in the waiting room for one of our tests. I remember walking into the room and seeing the other Clary’s and the other Simon’s and immediately noticing one of the Simon’s. I thought to myself “well there he is. Hello, Simon.” I don’t think I have to tell you that was Alberto. Almost immediately we hit it off and started joking with each other. By the time we got to our chemistry read, we already had a good rapport. BUT – the craziest part of the casting process happened in the last two hours. The show tweeted that they would be announcing the actress playing Clary in 2 hours. I hadn’t heard anything but I knew it was between me and another actress. I assumed it had gone to her since I hadn’t heard anything yet. Then I got a call from my team saying to hold on because they hadn’t told anyone anything as of yet. I then proceeded to pace my way up to my gym and work out for the next two hours just to handle the nervous energy. Finally, 10 minutes before they were due to announce Clary, they called me and told me the news of my casting. The next ten minutes, I was speechless. Thrilled, but speechless because it hit me that the entire fandom was about to find out I was taking on this beloved character. I was terrified. I had no idea how I would be received. Luckily, the fandom gave me a warm welcome and its been a crazy ride since.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  What is it like working on Shadowhunters?
KM:  This is a very difficult question to answer because no two days on the set of Shadowhunters is the same. We have so much going on in the show – between the stunts, the characters, and the mythology alone – its a lot to keep track of, but provides a good variety for set life. As such, working on Shadowhunters is essentially a crazy roller coaster. Its intense, fast paced, sometimes terrifying, you may end up a bit sweaty or bruised by the end of the day, but its all wrapped up in this elation and inexplicable joy to have accomplished the feat at the end.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  Shadowhunters has its fair share of fight scenes and you do a lot of your own stunts. What is the training like for the show?
The training for the show is one of my favorite aspects of being a part of this series. We do most of our own stunts at this point, with the exception of those deemed too dangerous (even though we still beg to do those too. 🙂 ). We are able to do this because of our training. We have an amazing fitness trainer who tailors workouts to each of our specific needs and goals to help us be physically ready as far as stamina and strength are concerned to take on the show. We also have an amazing stunt coordinator and his team who are all masters and champions of martial arts or other fight disciplines who train us in our fighting skills. By learning the principles of the martial arts as opposed to learning just a few moves, we have more flexibility on the day on set if things need to change and are actually able to do more in the long run as our skills increase. I have the advantage of going on the physical journey with Clary in the most literal sense. She knows nothing of battles when she begins the series, but quickly picks up skills as she trains with the other Shadowhunters. Its really quite a lot of fun.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  What is the most intense stunt you have done since filming?
KM:  I don’t know if it was the most intense per se but I have to say one of my favorite stunts was a wire gag kill I have in ep 4 of the Season 2. We’ve been doing a lot of wire work this season chichis a dream come true for me (who doesn’t want to fly around set like Peter Pan?) and only adds to the supernatural nature of our characters as they fight. This stunt is basically a flying leap into a stab and it was so amazing to learn about how it all works and comes together. Essentially, I’m wearing a harness under my wardrobe which is hooked to wires in the ceiling. When the cue comes, the puller gives his end a good yank and off I go leaping through the air. You don’t realize how much effort it takes to fly through the air and look controlled in any way. That is where the training comes in and pays off in spades.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  Shadowhunters is based on the book series The Mortal Instrument, did you read the novels before taking on your character Clary Frey?
KM:  I started reading the books during the audition process and instantly fell in love with the series. I love the way Cassie weaves this mythology so romantically and creates such complicated interesting characters. It was very important for me as an actor to read the books as so much of the story is told from Clary’s point of view. The way she describes places, people, and events inform so much of who she is and has given me real insight. Even though we do stray from the books in the series plot, we stay true to the characters and the essence of the story. I really enjoy the differences as well as the direct book references in the show. It strikes a nice balance and allows for us to give this story a new life on screen.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  What do you love most about your character Clary Frey? Do you have any similarities to your character?
KM:  What I love most about Clary is that she is flawed. Yes she is a heroine with amazing skill and great intentions, but she’s young and she’s learning. She throws herself into situations wholeheartedly and, like all of us, often falls flat on her face. She makes selfish choices, she falters in her endeavors, and she loses her temper at times. BUT what is most important about the is the fact that she always picks herself up to try again. She refuses to accept hopelessness and always has a belief that good will win out somehow. She has an undying ember of hope within her that I think we all can adopt.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  What advice can you give to other aspiring artist out there who want to pursue a career in acting?
KM:  I would say to aspiring actors or artists to truly love what you do. Having a creative career is not easy. There’s quite a bit of rejection and criticism that will come your way and you have to be able to have a thick skin to persevere through it. However, if you love what you do, and find joy in it – the negativity fades into the background and its the best job in the world. Honestly, for any career path there are obstacles that one will encounter. That effort becomes part of your story – it makes the end result of success worthwhile. So no matter what your dreams are – pursue them with your whole being. If you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life, put yourself out there – find a passion and dive into it with all your soul. Don’t take no for an answer and never give up.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  Can you tell us 5 movies you love?
KM:  Gilda, Funny Face, Princess Bride, The Usual Suspects, Catch Me if You Can
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  How about 5 bands you love?
KM:  The 1975, Bastille, Two Door Cinema Club, The Chainsmokers, Does the Hamilton Cast count?
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  Bellus is Latin for beauty. What does beauty mean to you?
KM:  To me, beauty is everywhere if you seek it out. Beauty is about taking the time to appreciate those little details and little moments that make life, your surroundings, a person, a sunset, special. Beauty isn’t always something physical – its about the feeling it can illicit from the beholder. Beauty to me is individuality and the confidence to display that which makes you different. Beauty is kindness and light and love. So many see beauty and perfection as synonymous… I actually think there is more beauty in imperfection and differentiation. Something I find so interesting is how much beauty depends on perspective. One person can see something as incredibly beautiful while another person isn’t moved by it at all. That’s why its so illusive. Beauty is fleeting, its entirely subjective – and yet that is what makes it special.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
BM:  What’s next for Katherine McNamara?
KM:  I really don’t know. But I think thats what makes life exciting. The future is unknown but that means its full of possibility and opportunity. That’s one of the things I have come to appreciate most about my life – the unexpected nature of the direction of my life. The uncertainty used to terrify me – it still does sometimes. However, I’ve come to realize that there’s a special kind of beauty in the spontaneity. It affords me the opportunity to say yes to any opportunity life puts in front of me and to stay open to whatever comes my way. Variety is the spice of life and I intend to taste it all. In my opinion, life is for living. If I’m given an opportunity to further my career or stretch myself creatively I’m going to do everything I can to take it. That way I can look back on my life without regretting missed chances. Ultimately, I want to continue telling stories, creating characters, and finding the beauty in the imperfections of life. I’m a chameleon, a shapeshifter, an actor.
Katherine McNamara
Photo by Joshua Shultz
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