Your new favorite little sister Anna Cathcart is rising to the top at a young age. She’s acted in Disney’s Descendants series, and you probably also know her as the beloved Kitty in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. We chatted with Cathcart on balancing school and work, dealing with commentary on social media, and her connection with the cast members of To All the Boys. She’s handling everything well with a mature attitude and spunky spirit, so I know we will see much more of her in the future. Keep reading to catch up on one of my favorite rising stars.
First off, let’s just say how amazing it is that you’re only 15 and slaying the game. How do you feel? About everything? Can you even explain it?
It’s pretty crazy. I can barely figure it out myself. It can be overwhelming, but I am very lucky with all of the opportunities I’ve gotten. So many “pinch me” moments happen to me every day, and it’s crazy.
Being so young yet involved in the entertainment industry, how do you stay connected with your young personality?
My whole family is super close—my older sister, parents, and everyone else. It helps that I go to public school. That surprises a lot of actors because most of them don’t. It can get difficult to balance both work and school, but it helps remind me of normal, everyday life.
Have there ever been moments where friends you’ve had for years have been upset with your insane schedule and not seeing you as much? How do you deal with that?
That can be difficult sometimes because I am so in and out with school. I can be gone months at a time or days at a time. I’m not connected to everyone else as much as they are with each other, and that can be tough for me. I’ve just had to learn that is the trade-off. If I continue my work, school life can get harder. But it’s worth it for me.
I remember being 15 and there were so many changes going on so how are you balancing a busy workload while also just figuring out who you are?
I feel like everyone my age in the industry is having to go through the process of figuring out who they are. All girls my age are going through their own thing and struggling with stuff. That’s something I have to remind myself of. Everyone is going through something even though it may not look like it. I’m really close with my older sister, and she helps me with so many things. Growing up and now, I’m so lucky to have her because she gives me advice, and I can talk to her about literally anything.
I think it’s cool when people are themselves and are proud of it.
Why do you think it’s so important to have comradery amongst female cast?
It makes such a big difference. Like you mentioned with cast, it was great meeting Lana and Janel. We all got super close, and it was like having a whole other family. They were people I got advice from and who are always there for me. I often find friends in people who are older than me. I know they have my back, and I can come to them when I need something or just want someone to talk to. The cast was so special.
Having such a strong social media presence, what are some personal platforms or messages you stick to?
I think something that is important for everyone, and especially young girls my age, is just being yourself and sticking to who you are. A lot of people want to be a certain type of person because it’s cool. I think it’s cool when people are themselves and are proud of it. It’s not easy to do because I struggle with it myself. It’s important to be you and follow your morals and not what other people think you should do.
Let’s talk the hottest sensation right now, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. What is your favorite aspect of the movie? How was it working on the film?
Working on the film was amazing. I still can’t believe it’s become so huge. I knew it was going to be amazing, but it’s been insane hearing everyone’s reactions. One message that stuck out to me was: Lara Jean didn’t have to change in the movie. In a lot of movies, the girl has to have a glow-up or makeover for the guy to realize her. She stayed her awesome, quirky self and Peter still noticed how amazing she is. I really loved my character, Kitty. She stands up for herself and she does what she wants when she wants, but she is also super lovable. Kitty was never supposed to wear glasses in the movie, but in my own life I wear glasses. It was cool how they told me to keep them on in the movie and to be myself.
You obviously worked with the wonderful Lana Condor and America’s sweetest heartthrob Noah Centineo. How was it having older mentors on set?
It was really amazing. On the first day I met them, we acted like we had known each other for years. It was an immediate connection. Like I said before, it was special having people who are basically my sisters now on set. I can always call or text Lana and Janel whenever I need. They’ve made it clear I can talk to them about whatever, and that’s special for me to have. We always have a good time together. It’s always constant giggles. As more specific examples, sometimes I’ll have a bad day or someone will be not-so-nice to me at school, and I will text them. They always pump me back up. No one in the cast treated me like I was lesser than them because I’m younger. They always treated me like one of the gang, and it was special.
Are you ever intimidated by older people on set? How do you work through the nerves?
In most casts I’ve worked on, everyone has been super welcoming. I’ve only met great people, and I’m lucky in that sense. I have definitely been intimidated by people in the past. But with the To All the Boys cast, we felt like a big family immediately.
What fresh perspective do you think you brought to set?
I was the youngest one. I guess I was the little sister everyone enjoyed being with. Most people on the cast are in their 20’s. Janel and I were kind of in the same position, as in we are both on opposite ends of the spectrum. She was older than most people on the set. It was great to have that dynamic on set, and I became everyone’s little sister.
I’m sure being in such a popular movie, you have a lot of talk coming at you. Whether positive or not, how have you developed tough skin at such a young age?
It’s been crazy, but I’ve been lucky in that most people have been positive. I try not to read the comments, but I do like the positive ones so I focus on those and ignore the others. It doesn’t just happen to me though. It happens to everyone. All of the actors I admire have people who aren’t the nicest to them in comments and online. They deal with it, so I deal with it.
When someone has a negative comment, how do you process it and work through it?
Normally if I see something negative, I tell my mom so she’s aware what’s going on, and then I ignore it. Sometimes it’s best not to directly address it and comment back because it makes it a bigger deal. I’ve been lucky that most comments have been kind, so I look at those.
What’s some advice for young people on social media to use their online presence for good?
I think they should put things out there that represent who they are and what’s important to them. If you have something negative to say, keep it to yourself. There’s no point in going out of your way to make someone feel bad. You’re allowed to have your opinion, but why not just keep it to yourself sometimes? Social media is great, and I love it, but it can also be used in negative ways. It’s sad because I don’t see why we can’t use it for good. It’s awesome to connect with so many people when it’s used in a good way.
Tell us a little bit about your character in Descendants!
My character in Descendants 2 and Descendants 3 that’s about to come out is named Dizzy Tremaine. She’s very positive, creative, and expresses herself through fashion. She looks on the bright side and is happy and perky. I love playing that sort of character, and I think most of my characters have had that perky side. She wasn’t in the best situations growing up, but she didn’t let it beat her down. She kept in mind that one day it would get better.
Are their roles or opportunities you hope to explore in this industry as you get older?
A lot of people ask me if I want to do acting forever, and I honestly don’t know. Right now, I love what I’m doing, and I’m so lucky to be part of all of the success I’ve been a part of. I want to keep going right now. Who knows? Maybe I’ll take a break when I’m an adult to pursue another career and then go back to acting. Education is important, and I want to do post-secondary, but who knows when I’ll do that. I really love musicals, and Descendants is a musical that I was super lucky to be part of. I’d love to be part of a huge musical like The Greatest Showman or Mamma Mia.
Who are some women you look up to?
One of my biggest idols is Zendaya. Not only is she a triple threat, she acts, sings, and dances, but she is an activist. She uses her platform to stand up for what she believes. She did Disney Channel but has moved on and has still had so much success at a young age. I would love to work with her one day. In the industry, I also look up to Lana and Janel. I get to learn from their experiences.
What other hobbies do you have?
I do dance. I don’t do it a lot, but I am trying to get more into it. I do hip-hop, and sometimes you do need to use it in acting. In Descendants, we had dance numbers so it was nice to know a little bit going in, but I learned a lot during it. I love hanging out with my sister, my dog, and my family. I’m super close to them. My dog is one of my best friends. I love taking photos of my sister and hanging out with her.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
Besides Descendants 3 coming out soon, I’m not really actively working on any projects. To All the Boys really opened a lot of doors for me, but I’m really hoping there will be a sequel. I’m really hoping that’s on the table soon, but I honestly haven’t heard anything about it.
STORY ELIZABETH STAFFORD
PHOTOS DERRICK FRESKE