Kate A. McGrath graduated from SUNY Oswego, and continued studies at New York University, School for Film and Television, The Barrow Group, Black Nexxus Inc, Pearl Theatre and Bova Actors Studio. She has worked primarily in independent projects from Nicky Newark to Clandenstine. She has since continued to work steadily in developing new projects as an actress, writer, and producer.
World Film Geek got the opportunity to talk to McGrath about her career and what’s next.
Thank you for taking to take the time to talk to us about your career.
Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.
What inspired you to become an actor?
I was a kid of movies and TV. The big studio movies – even though now the bloom is off the rose on how men in the industry treat women and children – as a kid watching Jurassic Park or The Goonies – I wanted to be inside that magic world. Even watching a show like Life Goes On, I wanted to tell the tale once a week. Then in the early ’90s, something called independent film happened – She’s The One, If Lucy Fell, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. I even wanted to be in the trailers! That’s when I started praying to be an actor when I grew up. That’s when I began telling the Man upstairs, “This is what I’m going to do: I know it’s going to be really hard but I’m going to take that indie route: write new stuff, be in it, be the storyteller. No one listens to me any other way, but film will by my air horn.”
What was your first film, and what was the experience like?
It was a short film called Running Time back in 2005, I think. My buddy Jake directed it, and I wrote and starred in it. We had cast a nice enough actor, but he had no concept of sarcasm, and ALL my humor is dark, low‐down, no-hope, gallows sarcasm. I grew up with Irish Catholic law enforcement ‐ there was virtually no ACTUAL conversation – just obliterating mockery.
We shot in Jake’s studio apartment in Long Island City all night on this Canon XL 1S back when they were the Holy Grail of indie filmmaking because Soderbergh or Boyle used it for something brilliant. I bought it with my day job bonus while living on 34th and 9th, and Jake helped me shoot and edit it. To me: it was thrilling.
I remember the subway ride home at 4 am, exhausted and smelly from a full night shoot – pretty sure a guy was touching himself in the same car as me – but I could see my reflection in the dark window and thought – THIS is going to change my life. This little movie is going to make my world! It literally went nowhere.
I will say: that camera and boom mic sat in a closet for years, but when I joined Feenix Films in 2008, Dave LaRosa used it for our first film together, Lock‐Load‐Love and THAT collaboration DID, in fact, change my life.
You’re more than an actor, but a writer and producer. Which is more difficult: acting, writing, or producing?
I would say writing. It takes years for me to do the dramaturgy. I don’t want to write stupid – I want to write things that mean something, characters that stick, that have gray areas. For my film Clandestine, the character I played, Julia, meant the world to me. I wanted her to win. I mean, I knew the spoiler, but I prayed for her to win because there are Julias in the world that are fighting – to get clean, to get their kid back, to be redeemed, they deserve the shot. And it’s not just her in that film – It was Mack, Scott, Coop, Billman – the characters I write are ghosts that are present to me. They surround.
Envelope. They need a voice, a skeleton, blood, heart, and veins. That’s why writing is difficult – it feels like a responsibility.
What can you tell us about any new projects you’re involved in?
I’m fortunate to work with Dave and Janine LaRosa – we are in development and will go to production in April 2020 for a dramedy that Dave wrote. It will be nice to voice his characters again and work with him as a director.
I just came back from Ireland, more impassioned than ever that we are cognizant of what Brexit will do to her and her people. I have a draft of a war drama that I’ve been researching for about four years – not just because of Brexit but also partially inspired by the senselessness of what has been going on in Syria.
As for acting – well, there’s the professional auditioner in me. That’s every week, nearly three times a week, avid play reading, always studying. The last show I did was a great comedy at Theater for the New City, so hopefully, something new is on the horizon. Until then, its voice lessons once a week and annoying my neighbors and scaring my cat with loud rehearsals.
That’s great! I will definitely have to check your stuff out. And I hope you continue your success!
Thank you again for taking the time — all the best to you and the team.
A Special Thank You Goes to Wendy Shepherd at Studio Matrix and Kate A. McGrath for making this interview possible.