McNamara never intended on acting as a profession; she had dreams of becoming an economist. But after a family friend was in need of a dancer for a community theater program, McNamara decided to give it a try and instantly fell in love with the stage. “I will never forget being on stage that opening night and feeling the energy; it hit me like a brick wall. I just knew that it was what I had to do for the rest of my life,” she said.
This led to her interest in pursuing musical theater for her bachelor’s degree, but after booking A Little Night Music on Broadway and moving to New York, McNamara couldn’t find a school that would let her work on stage and attend classes in theater programs.
“I was really confused and didn’t know what to do. I felt that I was choosing between my education and my career, so I talked to my cast members in the show, and they said that I was already doing what I loved for a living and could choose another topic I was interested in for a degree to round myself out as an individual,” she said.
After thinking the idea over, McNamara followed her passion for economics and chose a business degree, with an emphasis in finance, which she received from Drexel University.
“I realized that my degree would help me in my career and personal life, and it all worked out perfectly,” she said.
As someone who adores learning, McNamara is currently in the process of earning her master’s degree in applied economics from Johns Hopkins University as she also juggles her film and television projects, as well as a burgeoning music career, something she’s been trying to jump-start for a few years now.
“I have some songs in the can, and I want people to hear them, but it’s all about finding the time to write and record and shoot music videos in between everything else,” she said. “No complaints, though! I’m such a Type A workaholic that I’m thrilled to be so busy. I’ve never been happier.”
Though she doesn’t like to limit her inspiration to a certain genre, some of her current favorites are Marina and the Diamonds, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Karmin, Maroon 5, and since she grew up listening to country music, Sam Hunt also tops her list.
This fall, she’s looking forward to the release of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and filming Shadowhunters, which premieres in January. And although she hasn’t been on Broadway since her debut in 2009, it is something she’s hoping to return to. “There’s nothing like that exhilarating feeling of being on stage in front of a live audience, doing the show you’ve worked so hard for, and putting it all out there,” she said. “There is no experience like Broadway. It’s a magical world.”
See more exclusive images of Katherine McNamara in our Aug/Sept 2015 issue!
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Katherine McNamara Interview: Photographer: Quavondo, Assistant: Johnny Martini, Hair: Gui @xclusiveartists, Makeup: Lysette Castellanos, Styling: Noami Zinns.