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Rising Star Katherine Waddell: “Never be afraid or ashamed to take time for yourself”

Never be afraid or ashamed to take time for yourself. I know we all try to hustle as hard as we can and work as hard as we can, especially in this industry where it’s extremely competitive. You always feel like you should be doing more and working on more in hopes of making it. […]


Never be afraid or ashamed to take time for yourself. I know we all try to hustle as hard as we can and work as hard as we can, especially in this industry where it’s extremely competitive. You always feel like you should be doing more and working on more in hopes of making it. However, sometimes this mentality can wear you out and leave you feeling defeated if you feel like you aren’t doing enough. Not every day is going to be jam packed with work, not even every week will. Not every project is going to work out. Find time for yourself to take a moment and breathe and treat yourself right. Every once in a while, take a day or a few hours to do things that make you happy, and don’t feel bad about it. If you’re not getting recharged and re-centered, it’ll make the hustling and hard work unbearable.


As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katherine Waddell. Katherine Waddell is a film and theatre artist who grew up in São Paulo, Brazil and has been studying the fine arts for over 16 years, spanning two continents. Her first producing credit came from her role as Associate Producer on Six L.A. Love Stories, featuring Matthew Lillard, Alicia Witt, Carrie Preston, and more. She now resides in Atlanta, GA where she actively pursues a career in acting and filmmaking but will soon be moving to Los Angeles.


Thank you so much for joining us Katherine! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started acting when I was in the 4th grade. My first role was Mrs. Buckett in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. After that, I fell in love with theatre and pursued it endlessly while I was in school, all the way until the end of college. Transitioning into film was just a natural occurrence. I love movies and TV, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that world. When I was 23, I finally got into producing. As an actor, you sometimes wait around a lot for work. You have no idea when your next job will come around and the waiting can be disheartening. I love being on set and the community feel of being on set, so I thought if I got into producing, I’d still be able to be around the work that I love, even if I wasn’t acting. It’s been a whirlwind of pursuing both acting and producing at the same time, but I love it. I feel it’s important in the entertainment world to be multifaceted so that you can bring more to the table.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

One of my more interesting stories is one of coincidence. I used to live in South Bend, IN, and I would commute 2–3 hours into Chicago for acting work 3–4 times a week. I got an audition for a short film called Love Club and when I got the sides beforehand, it had the director’s name, Emma Johnson, on it. I had known a girl named Emma Johnson in college for a brief time and knew that she had eventually gone into the film industry, but we had gone to school in Florida together, and we were definitely not in Florida anymore, so I didn’t think it could possibly be her. I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in years. When I walked into the audition room, it was actually her! We got to reconnect, and I ended up landing the role. Since then, we’ve worked on a multitude of projects together, become great friends, and even plan to start our own production company together soon. It reinforced for me how small the world is, including the film industry.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I started getting into film acting, I know a lot of my first self-tape auditions were horrible. I watch them now and I cannot believe that I turned them in. Either the video was a little blurry or the lighting was off, or any other audition faux pas you can think of. I’m sure at the time I thought they weren’t “that bad.” However, everything is a process, and you learn as you go. Knowledge is gained through time and experience. I learned I need to do enough research beforehand and really understand what I’m doing before going through with it, especially if it’s something I’m doing on my own. I also try to remind myself when I’m cringing too hard that I need to forgive myself for past mistakes when I was just starting out.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m most excited about a project called Dinner in America. It’s written and directed by Adam Rehmeier and stars Kyle Gallner and Emily Skeggs. Ben Stiller and Nicholas Weinstock from Red Hour Productions are producing, along with David Hunter and Ross Putnam from PSH Collective, John Covert of Covert Creative Group and Sam Slater of Burn Later Films. It’s a punk rock indie comedy that I’m a Co-Executive Producer on, and happen to have a few lines in. I can’t wait for the project to come out and have everyone see it.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I’ve been lucky enough to go to the Sundance Film Festival the past 3 years through the film company I work for. It’s been an incredible experience where I’ve had the opportunity to meet a plethora of actors and people in the entertainment industry. When I first started going, I was extremely nervous to meet everyone and was definitely star-struck. However, as time goes on, it’s become way easier to talk and interact with everyone. The only time recently that I got nervous was when I met Rodrigo Santoro, who is a huge actor from Brazil, where I grew up. I begged my boss not to tell Rodrigo that I spoke Portuguese, in case I got too nervous and fumbled with my words. However, my boss told him anyway and very briefly Rodrigo and I spoke in Portuguese together. I somehow survived the interaction, and he was extremely nice! It was an amazing experience to get to meet him, that my childhood self could never have envisioned happening.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Never be afraid or ashamed to take time for yourself. I know we all try to hustle as hard as we can and work as hard as we can, especially in this industry where it’s extremely competitive. You always feel like you should be doing more and working on more in hopes of making it. However, sometimes this mentality can wear you out and leave you feeling defeated if you feel like you aren’t doing enough. Not every day is going to be jam packed with work, not even every week will. Not every project is going to work out. Find time for yourself to take a moment and breathe and treat yourself right. Every once in a while, take a day or a few hours to do things that make you happy, and don’t feel bad about it. If you’re not getting recharged and re-centered, it’ll make the hustling and hard work unbearable.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to get involved with kids and what they eat at school. I’ve worked with children since high school, all the way from volunteering at a children’s cancer shelter, to being a volunteer tutor at an elementary school while in college, so helping kids is an important cause to me. I think kid’s nutrition is important, as well as being well-fed while in school. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to concentrate or be a good student when you’re hungry. I also know a lot of students don’t have proper access to good food once they leave school, so getting involved with a program, or helping to create one, that allows for kids to be properly fed at school and at home would be something I’d love to be a part of.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Not everyone is going to be kind, and that’s okay — While this might be an obvious lesson, it’s one that I wish had been driven home more for me. I try to be as kind to as many people as possible, to the best of my ability. I’m a big believer in the golden rule. I also know that this industry can be very intense and stressful, and having someone be kind to you can turn your whole day around when you’re in that type of environment. However, I wish someone had told me that that won’t always be the case in your career. While being kind might seem simple enough, it isn’t always that way. Not everyone will be kind to you, for whatever reason that may be, but it’s okay. Be patient, be understanding, and know that most likely, it’s not personal.
  2. These things take time — When I’m working on a project that is important to me, I wish it could instantaneously be finished and I could begin to reap the benefits of my hard work. Getting into film has shown me that projects take time, years even. It’s hard not to get disheartened when there are production delays or push backs in any capacity. I wish someone had told me that some of my favorite films or tv shows took years to get off the ground, but that once the takeoff happens, it’s worth it.
  3. Your path might be different from what you expect — I always thought I’d be at a different point in my career by now, and I’m not, but that’s okay! My current path isn’t what I thought it would be, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable or important. Things really do happen in the way that they do for a reason. I may not see it now, but I’m learning more and more to have confidence and faith in myself that I’ll get to be where I want to be someday.
  4. Persevering makes the difference — Never giving up is important. The industry will tell you no a million times in a million different ways. The difference is to keep pushing. There are many times when I’ve wanted to give up and take the easy way out by choosing something different to do with my life but persevering and working through those feelings have led me to come out on top later. If it’s not working for you now, that doesn’t mean it won’t later.
  5. Know your worth — Don’t let your hard work be taken for granted. You are a human being with value, don’t ever forget that. It’s easy to be trampled on, especially in the beginning of your career. Don’t be afraid to say no to something or someone, or to stick up for yourself. Know your accomplishments, know your work ethic, set standards for yourself, and don’t be afraid to be your own champion.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Short cuts make long delays.” 
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I know I’m someone who always tends to be in a hurry and would like to get to the “next point” in life as soon as possible. But rushing has never brought me anything good, if anything, it leaves me in a worse spot than before. I feel this quote is relatable on many levels, whether it’s for your career or your personal life. Don’t take the short cuts, don’t try to rush life. Take your time to figure things out; you have more time than you think you do. You’ll thank yourself later for taking the time to savor all your lessons and anything else you might experience in life.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have so many wonderful people who have helped me along the way. From teachers, to friends, to fellow actors, they’ve all helped me at some point achieve where I am today, and I am grateful to all of them. One of the most important people in helping me on this career path is a man called Michael Dunaway, who is my boss at Gasoline Films. I had almost no experience with producing when he took me on as an intern at his film company, but he’s stuck by my side this entire time, encouraging me and helping me move forward. I’ve worked with him as an intern all the way to currently being a Senior Associate at the company. He’s always made me feel that all my goals and dreams are achievable, and that he believes in me. I’m very lucky to have someone standing by my side who is a champion of the work that I do, especially in an industry that can so easily beat you down. Michael Dunaway, thank you!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Cate Blanchett has always been a film and theatre artist that I have admired. Besides being a phenomenal actress that has incredible range, Cate Blanchett is more than that; she is a producer, CEO, and philanthropist. I have always believed it doesn’t serve you to only do one thing with your career, but instead you should always be trying to expand your repertoire of skills and knowledge. If you are going to do something, do it fully. For Cate Blanchett, she pursued more than just acting in front of the camera, she wanted to also work behind it. She did not limit herself to just film either; besides performing on stage, she became the CEO for a theatre. It’s the drive to do more and be a part of more that makes me want to follow in her suit. She is an inspiration to the definition of a hard-working woman.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram at @katg.waddell. It’ the only form of social media I currently have. I post about all the projects I’m working on and I also try to give glimpses into my everyday life so my followers can get to know me a little better!

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

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