We just sat down with Katherine McNamara, star of the brand new Disney Channel Original Movie Girl Vs. Monster out this fall! Katherine told us all about her evil character in the movie, how she started acting, and something totally unexpected: she LOVES school! Check out our revealing conversation below, and watch her shout-out video to TWIST readers!
TWIST: How did you start acting?
Katherine: I sort of fell into it backwards. I was a ballet dancer and a softball player ever since I was really little but on a chance meeting, I ran into a family friend who was directing a community theater production. She asked me to come audition. She needed a dancer. I figured, 'You know, why not? I'll try something new.' I ended up getting the part and fell in love with theater. I couldn't stop doing it. Then that spiraled into Broadway and now film and television and everything else.
T: How did you move from stage acting to TV and film?
K: It was really interesting what happened. While I was doing a Broadway show, they were auditioning for a Disney show called Madison High. So, they saw me and I ended up getting the screen test for it. I flew out to LA and stayed there because I got the job and kept booking other things. It just kind of happened. I didn't really plan it.
T: Awesome! Tell us about your new movie Girl Vs. Monster!
K: That was so much fun! I actually just finished filming that in Vancouver. It's a movie for Disney Channel. It'll be out this Halloween. I play Myra Santelli. She is your stereotypical mean girl. She's very conniving and nasty, and very possessive of Ryan, another character in the movie. She does go through a certain metamorphosis though. She gets possessed by a monster halfway through and becomes even more evil and conniving. And then eventually she gets redemption at the end when she turns nice.
T: What was it like to play someone who is so vicious?
K: I end up getting cast as the mean girl a lot of times, which is so strange because it's not like me at all! But it's fun for me because it's a juicy role, and it's fun to play someone completely different from yourself.
T: Which kind of acting do you like best? Stage or screen?
K: I could never choose because they're so different and I love them both so much. I love the spontaneity of theater and the energy from the audience. But then I also love getting to hang out with people on set and that whole vibe of getting to do something different every day in film and television.
T: You graduated high school at 14 and you're already working on college stuff!
K: Yeah, I'm a senior in college this year.
T: How is this possible? And why move so fast?
K: Because I'm a nerd. I got kicked out of school in first grade because they couldn't really do anything with me. I was advanced in some subjects. They decided to let me come back for art, music, PE, assemblies, field trips, extra curriculars, lunch, recess, everything - except I did academics at home. It ended up being the best of both worlds. I was allowed to go at my own pace. I ended up graduating high school at fourteen and I started college at thirteen because I did a semester of dual enrollment. And so, here I am a senior!
T: How do you plan to incorporate your college education into what you're doing now?
K: Well I wanted to go to a conservatory, but when you're thirteen they really don't look at you for that. I decided to get a business degree instead. It's going to be really neat to try and incorporate that into my career because I can start to handle my own business affairs. I took a contractual law class a few quarters ago and so every time I read a contract, I can actually understand it now. It's really neat how there are so many ways that it actually helps.
T: Definitely, that's so useful! Now that you're part of the Disney Channel, have you met any of the other stars? Have you made friends with any of them?
K: I am really close with a lot of the Disney kids! I mean, the list could go on forever but some my closest friends are Kenton Duty from Shake It Up and all the Kickin' It people. I'm so close with all of them. Olivia [Holt] is one of my best friends in the entire world. China [Anne McClain] and her sisters - I'm really close with them too. Stefanie Scott is a good friend of mine. I pretty much know everybody. Audrey Whitby and [Allisyn] Ashley [Arm] from So Random. I'm friends with Debby Ryan, Peyton List, Skai [Jackson], Billy Unger, and Kelli Berglund. I'm going to Cody [Simpson]'s listening party on Saturday. I'm good friends with his sister. We're all just a big family really.
T: Have you gotten any advice from any of the older stars that have been through the routine for a couple years?
K: You know, the biggest thing that I've learned, even through observance of all of the other Disney stars that have been through it, is just to keep your head on your shoulders. Stay grounded and don't let everything go to your head. I have a great support system here and lots of great friends, so I think I'll be able to do that.
T: Great! Do you have any other upcoming projects?
K: I do! I'm going to be recording some original music soon. I hope to have a song out around the time that Girl Vs. Monster comes out, which should be great. And also, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, a movie I did last summer, will be coming out late this year or early next. I play Becky Thatcher and Joel Courtney and Jake T. Austen are also starring in it. It's neat what they did with it - instead of having Huck, Tom and Becky be 11 or 12, we're 15 or 16, so they can make the story even more adventurous and intense. It's really cool. Not only is the story great and the acting is great but the cinematography is beautiful. It was filmed in Bulgaria. It was wonderful. I had such a great time there.
T: Wow, that sounds like so much fun! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Katherine!
K: Thank you, TWIST!
Photo: Courtesy of Danielle Pozsonyi