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Theater and movie actress Kate A. McGrath has been working on projects in and around New York City since 2002. A talented singer and writer as well as an Actress, Kate has been nominated for awards--and won awards--and is now an active member of Feenix Films.

Her first script titled "DEALeR" debuted at the Kraine Theater on the lower east side of Manhattan. Her follow-up film recently released is "Clandestine" and was inspired by Kate's father's experience as a police officer on Long Island; a position he held for over thirty years.

In a recent and exclusive interview, Kate discussed her career as an entertainer, projects, and more.

Acting, singing, and writing

Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you discover your talent for acting and how did you subsequently get into singing?

Kate A. McGrath (KAM): My grandfather and grandmother had my sisters and me putting on Holiday shows in our very early years – we did everything from performing “Sisters” from “White Christmas” to choreographing elaborate jazz routines, to doing a full rendition of “Garfield’s Halloween” in their home on Long Island. But when I saw a trailer for “Pulp Fiction” in High School, and started watching sitcoms, I craved to “do that." I remember a visceral reaction happened for me back in High School when I performed a scene from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” – the 1992 screenplay adapted by James V. Hart with a friend of mine for an event. I went on stage as Mina with absolute fear and cotton mouth and came off stage besotted.

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As for singing, that was a tougher sell. I knew I wanted to perform on stage more, and musicals often included an aspect of comedia -- I was all about physical comedy. In my life, I’ve had maybe two music teachers in the world – Jonathan Babcock and my current voice teacher, Pamela Thomas – who actually believed I had vocal talent. It wasn’t until recently that I stopped getting in my own way in that facet of my career and started really studying voice. I finally realized I had talent for a long time and left it abandoned.

MM: You are also a writer, so how did that come about? Did your experiences as a performer inspire you to write?

KAM: Oh absolutely, everything inspires you to write. To be honest, those years that I felt alone in my pursuits, that I felt I had no one believing in me as an artist – that’s when writing SAVED me. I began writing my own acting career. I graduated from college assuming I’d only get work if I WROTE it. I realized though that the craft of writing deserved more than that.

It evolved into a serious study of great playwrights, story structure, character history, conflict, and resolution (if there IS any). I read greats like Hellman, Churchill, Wilson, Williams, Shakespeare, Friel; screenplays by Brooks, Ball, Khouri, Ephron, etc. From continued reading and study I was able to learn about structure, and from using what is important in my heart, I write what makes me nervous, what challenges me as an actor. Whether it is playing a woman in love, a mother, a drug addict – the more flawed, the more I sweat, the more I can relate in heart and soul. Those broads are my people; I don’t care to know Snow White.

Roles, characters, and movies

MM: Can you tell us about your favorite roles and the kinds of characters you most enjoy playing?

KAM: I love playing what some people might call “the ‘c’ word." There is something SO intense about playing a woman who I would simply not tolerate in life. I have been able to do it in an audition here or there and it’s UNREAL. I have a written work that my film company, Feenix Films, is developing wherein I’d play the role of someone who is struggling with that kind of behavior – and really getting her bottom handed to her for it – and it’s just the bees’ knees.

MM: You wrote a film about your father's experiences as a lawman, so was he involved in this process at all and what about the subject most interested you?

KAM: I interviewed my father and mother in 2004 and 2005 about his experiences in the 1970s and 1980s as a police officer. Laws were different back then. There are experiences that he had that literally made it into the film because they were just THAT haunting and THAT unbelievably real. Names were changed of course, and the drug involved in this movie is meth, whereas my father had to deal with the crack crisis. One thing my mother said that I really tried to portray in “Clandestine” and my director, David LaRosa, did a good job working with the actors on this, was, “I knew your father before he was a police officer and after and there was a change.”

MM: How did you find Feenix Films and subsequently get these films produced?

KAM: Oh man: endless hours of meetings, self-funding to the point of near-starvation, and a lot of myself and my partners, David LaRosa and Janine Laino getting on the phone and talking to people’s agents. That’s how we’ve been doing it since 2008. In the case of our film “Clandestine” our budget was from crowd funding and private investment – and essentially myself and our lawyer negotiated with Tom Sizemore’s agents to get him to work with us. I literally one night, sick of waiting, got on my phone in my little apartment and called his agent. I called a few other “name actor” agents too. Tom ended up really relating to this screenplay – he was prepared and supportive. But it was ALL Feenix. Feenix is always elbow-grease. Dave was, as I mentioned, the director, so it was often him and I discussing the script so it was amenable to the indie budget, the locations, the limited time we had to shoot – which was essentially a summer. That’s independent film. It’s always crunch time, always stress, always do this do this do this. I couldn’t be more in love with it.

MM: What has been the most rewarding part of working in the creative industry?

KAM: I would say it’s just the feeling of creating. I feel blessed that I’m an artist. I thank God for it. I’m very lucky to have Feenix in my life, theater, appreciation of the arts, the successes that I have, and believe it or not – the struggles. To be passionate about a craft enough to fight for it is very much a gift, especially considering how materialistic things seem nowadays. So, I’m grateful every day. But hey: I would NEVER complain about getting more work without the struggle.

MM: Where do you hope you will be in your career ten years from now?

KAM: Well, from this interview to God’s ears, here goes: more screenplay writing and at least ONE play written under my belt. Those are hard. I would have liked to have written a comedy by then – also hard. And as for performing – every possible difficult role, drama and comedy, I could possibly muster from my instrument that ten years will allow me. Not a moment in those ten years wasted either.

MM: What advice can you give to a person who is striving to enter the acting and/or singing industry?

KAM: If you really love it, let no one tell you “you can’t do it." No matter who they are: you can. It won’t be easy – nothing worth it is – but you love it so who cares. Most importantly: train. Your craft and instrument deserve that. This ain’t the Kardashians. Be the talent you admire: educate yourself in the craft you love so much – always be learning.

MM: Are there any events or projects forthcoming that you would like to mention?

KAM: Feenix Films is in development stage now for some projects, but our current release "Clandestine" is available on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Dish Network, Sony Playstation Video and Google Play. I just ended a staged reading of "The Madwoman of Chaillot" which was lovely, and hoping to get more stage work soon. Otherwise, film and stage are always in my sights.