Katherine Langford has likely stolen your heart portraying the haunting character Hannah Baker on the hit Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. She plays the emotional role so well that sometimes it's hard to separate the real-life human being from the fictional character, which is exceptionally impressive considering that her own personal high school experience was worlds away from Hannah's.
"My high school experience was a lot happier than Hannah Baker's," Katherine told The Los Angeles Times. "I went to a gifted and talented school, so I was surrounded by really interesting people from all different walks of life and I had a really strong friend group. The school was very liberal in that I had freedom."
In fact, Katherine credits that freedom for setting her eventual career path into motion and making her who she is today.
"During my study periods I wasn't being watched by a teacher so I would go to the auditorium and write songs," she shared. "That's maybe one of the reasons why I was able to become an actor, because I was given the freedom to do that."
But just because Katherine's own real-life high school experience was vastly different than her character's, it doesn't mean she can't relate to her story.
"Particularly for Hannah's later scenes, I spoke with a psychiatrist who deals with adolescent development and that helped inform me from a medical and factual point of view," she told the newspaper. "What was really special about the project was the way it was written. These characters are so fleshed out and real that it made it easy for me to relate to Hannah and to understand what she was going through. I feel that we respect the intellect of the audience. Sixteen, 15-year-olds are a lot smarter than people give them credit for."
Katherine also shared that she wasn't wholly uninformed about the big issues the show tackled before she started the project.
"I wasn't naïve to the fact that girls are shamed for their sexuality and things like sexual assault go unreported. I know so many people who went through it," she said in the interview. "It's really important that we talk about these issues so people can recognize these things and know they can get help. We can't let sexual assault and consent be a taboo subject."
"It's lovely because you feel like you are part of something that has made a difference," Katherine shared about her experience on the show so far. "Even though it's just a piece of entertainment, it's generated conversation that might make people more aware that tiny things you do can affect somebody else in a big way."