BYOU Magazine’s “Kat’s Korner” columnist actress Katherine McNamara, who stars as Clary Fray in Freeform’s new television series Shadowhunters, recently chatted with BYOU Magazine’s publisher/editor-in-chief Debra Gano about her new role in this two-part exclusive interview. We released Part One (see below) earlier when the series premiered in January, and in honor of the season finale Tuesday, April 5, we’re releasing Part Two here!
Shadowhunters is based on the bestselling popular young adult book series, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, and follows Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara), who finds out on her birthday that she is not who she thinks she is, but rather comes from a long line of Shadowhunters – human-angel hybrids who work to make the world a better place by hunting down demons. Thrown into this world after her mother is kidnapped, Clary must rely on the mysterious Jace and his fellow Shadowhunters, Isabelle and Alec, to navigate this new dark world. With her best friend Simon in tow, Clary looks for answers that could help her find her mother.
Here is PART TWO of BYOU Magazine’s Interview with Katherine McNamara (look for PART ONE below this one)…and be sure to check out Katherine’s exclusive BYOU Magazine advice column, “Kat’s Korner”, where she shares favorite quotes and offers empowering advice and tips for girls! (Read previous Kat’s Korner snippets on our website.)
PART TWO: Exclusive Interview with Katherine McNamara
Debra: How do you think Clary can be a role model for girls?
KATHERINE: I think Clary is a role model; I look up to her! She’s got this blend of strength and vulnerability that kind of flows throughout the season. But what’s so great about Clary is, that if she had never been drawn into this shadow world, if she had never experienced any of this, she would be fine. She was already a strong confident woman, but it’s that inner strength that serves her throughout the season. She has this fierce loyalty for the people she loves — she will do anything for them. She will sacrifice anything and dive in headfirst to any terrifying situation — not thinking of herself, only thinking of the people she is trying to save and help. I think that’s a quality that people forget about.
Debra: If you were a Shadowhunter in real life as Katherine, what demon would you want to destroy? What would you want to take on?
KATHERINE: I would want to take on self-doubt because that’s something I see in so many people, especially young people. The sky is the limit when you’re young — you have your whole life ahead of you and the possibilities are endless. If you believe in yourself and you believe that you have the skills, power, and ability to accomplish your dreams, you can! It’s merely a matter of sticking with it and not letting anybody tell you “no” and not thinking less of yourself.
Debra: Could you share some advice on not giving up on a goal or how to get rid of that self-doubt?
KATHERINE: It’s all about taking steps and making goals for yourself. You [think about] the ultimate goal of what you want to achieve in your life, and then you look back and say to yourself, “How do I get there?” You make small steps and small leaps, so you can continue feeling successful, but you know you’re on the journey and making progress — and you’ll achieve your goal even if it takes 20-30 years to get there. You have to believe in yourself and know [you’ll reach your goal] if you are dedicated and work hard. Truly believing in yourself — that’s what is really important.
Debra: Do you ever have moments where you feel you are Clary or any character you’ve ever played?
KATHERINE: You know, I don’t. I am very good at separating work and life. But once I create a character, I can step in and out of their shoes very easily and that’s something I’ve learned over time. I’ll be in a scene and it’ll be so intense, but then I’ll have to step out and go to a costume fitting or do a press interview or a hair and makeup test where you have to pull yourself out. I have to be able to make that separation; otherwise it can get confusing or cause problems. But, that’s something all of us on set are really good at! And, we kind of have to be because it’s easy to get drawn into this world of dark material — and that’s not good for any of us.
Debra: What things do you do to really get into a role?
KATHERINE: I turn to music quite often when shooting. I had a Clary playlist that I would listen to on the way to work every day. But, how I really get focused is reading the script. I probably read the script for the pilot five times before I went in [for auditioning], which is very rare for me. I sort of lived in this world. I read the books through the audition process; I kept reading the pilot script over and over again. I started to think about how Clary would look, how she would dress, how she would do her make up — how she would live her life. That’s what I do with every role, because every character is a different person. I have to create a person from the ground up and in detail; you have to step into their shoes literally and figuratively.
Debra: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
KATHERINE: I think it is really important for BYOU Magazine readers to know that there are two strong main female characters in Shadowhunters: Clary and Isabella. And when you have two strong female characters in a story, they’re often pitted against each other and in competition with each other. Something I think is so refreshing, so healthy, and so amazing about Shadowhunters is that never happens! Isabella and Clary are sisters from beginning to end, they don’t fight against or compete with each other. And that’s something I think is very important for young girls to see right now.
PART ONE – BYOU Magazine’s Interview with Katherine McNamara
Debra: Can you please share with us how you came to play the role of “Clary Fray”?
KATHERINE: I was sent the script of Shadowhunters almost a year ago and I was so excited to have the chance to audition. I had known about the book series and I was a huge fan of Lily Collins [who played Clary Fray in the Shadowhunters movie]. I auditioned a bunch of times and then I got to the screen test, which was the first time I met Alberto [who plays Simon] and Emeraude [who plays Isabelle] when they were in the room. And then I got to the “chemistry” test where I screen-tested with Dom [who plays Jace], which was such a relief because Dom and I had already been friends for a year. When you’re doing a relationship on screen that has such chemistry and so much emotion in it, it helps when you know the person. You’re already comfortable with them and have trust in them, so you can play and have fun, and really explore the scene. After that, I had a screen test with Alberto, who I sort of knew now, and he and I hit it off immediately.
I didn’t hear anything for about a week and remember seeing on Shadowhunter’s Twitter that they were going to announce the actress who was playing Clary in two hours and I still hadn’t heard anything. I knew it was between me and another girl, so I thought, “Oh well, it must not be me. I guess they went another way.” Then all of a sudden, I get a call from my team saying, “Hold on, they haven’t said anything to anyone yet. Hang tight!” And, of course, then I’m going bonkers from seeing all the buzz on Twitter about it, so I went to the gym to get myself together and not think about it for two hours. Ten minutes before they’re about to announce it on Twitter, I get the call saying, “Congratulations, you will be playing the role of Clary Fray—just wait, your phone is about to explode!” Between all of the phone calls and text messages, tweets, Instagrams, everything that was happening all at once, my phone literally quit working for a few hours! I couldn’t call anybody, I couldn’t text anybody, I just had to sit there and process. I have to say those ten minutes felt longer than the two hours simply because I was speechless and so honored and excited and floored that I was going to be playing this role. But then it hit me: the whole Shadowhunters fandom was about to find out, and I had no idea how they were going to react. I was thinking, “Are they going to be OK with this choice? Are they going to like me? Are they going to accept me as their Clary Fray?” Because that could be disastrous if they didn’t!
Debra: I wondered if you had felt any nervousness or intimidation about playing the role of the main character of such a popular book series with such loyal (and opinionated) fans.
KATHERINE: At first I did because I realized from the buzz on Twitter the enormity of the fandom; how fierce and opinionated they are, and I was just hoping they were happy with this choice. When you read a book you have such an attachment to these characters because your imagination adds so much to it, especially a series with a lot of young characters who are growing up themselves and you’re growing up while you’re reading these books. You look up to these characters and they become your heroes and you have such a personal relationship with the characters. So, when we’re tasked with bring this to life it’s very exciting, but it’s also a huge responsibility. It’s something I don’t take lightly and I never will. My whole goal is to do justice to the story and to pay homage to these characters that so many people have such an attachment to. I am so honored and excited to be playing a role like this and sharing this with the fans, and so happy that the fandom welcomed me with open arms, as they did the rest of the cast.
Debra: That’s awesome! But there will always be those negative comments, like saying the show is not like the book, etc. – how do you handle those?
KATHERINE: You really just have to let it roll off your back. What we’ve been trying to let the fans know, especially fans who have such an attachment to these books, is that yes, we are staying true to the spirit of books and to the characters, but there are an infinite number of versions of this story. Because we know we can’t please everyone, we’re trying to create our own interpretation and perspective of this story—meet in the middle and hopefully make as many people as possible happy.
Debra: During the Shadowhunters premiere, I saw you posted on Twitter that “Dark, broken people are my favorite to play. So different from me!” I agree; you are anything BUT dark or broken! Can you share more about that?
KATHERINE: I love being an actor and playing characters that challenge me – to be in situations that are a challenge, because nobody really becomes an actor to play it safe and just play happy, light things all the time. Actors are the people who go to dark places; we’re the people who experience those emotions that nobody wants to experience. And by experiencing and sharing those dark, scary places with our audience, it shows that it’s OK to feel like that sometimes. It’s OK to have moments, to be scared, or have doubts. But what’s important is that you come out of those moments and move on; pick yourself back up, start again, and carry on.
Clary does this in the first episode, and she continues to do so throughout the season. Everything she knows and what she loves, everything she thought she could count on, is taken away from her and she’s left with literally rubble. She has to pick herself up, and trust these strangers and find her own way in this new and terrifying dark world. It’s a metaphor for growing up in a sense—you’ve had all these illusions of what life is like as a kid and as you grow up you realize that world isn’t always a happy place. But it’s how you handle it and how you tackle it. You can make the world a better place or you make your perspective better simply on how you handle situations.
The season finale of Shadowhunters featuring BYOU Magazine columnist,
Katherine McNamara, airs 9 p.m. (ET) Tuesday, April 5, on Freeform.
Want more Katherine McNamara inspiration?
Read the great advice she offers in “Kat’s Korner” in every issue of BYOU Magazine! Look for it on newsstands or SUBSCRIBE TODAY so you don’t miss a single issue.
BYOU Mag loves Kat…
Want more Katherine McNamara inspiration? Read the great advice she offers in “Kat’s Korner” in every issue of BYOU Magazine! Look for it on newsstands or SUBSCRIBE TODAY so you don’t miss a single issue.