The rising star reflects on diving into the unknown and exploring queer storylines that resonate.
Fresh off a whirlwind press tour following the release of Netflix’s XO, Kitty, actress Anna Cathcart is finally back at home in Canada, and just in time to announce that the show is already being renewed for a second season.
“I’m so excited that it’s official now, and we can tell people that it’s coming and it’s happening,” she shares with Vogue Philippines. “I truly don’t know, like, any of the details. I’ve even been asking myself, and I’m dying to know, so we’ll see.”
XO, Kitty is the spinoff series of the hit To All The Boys film franchise starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, where Cathcart played Condor’s meddling little sister Katherine Song Covey, or Kitty for short. In the show, she’s all grown up, caught between a few love interests and then some in the bustling city of Seoul, Korea—a city she has never been to before.
“It was really fun to just return to somebody in a new stage of her life and get to explore who she is now,” she says. “And honestly, it just [felt] very surreal to come back and be the same Kitty but in a new way.”
The premise of the show revolves around its titular character wanting to reunite with long-distance love, Dae, played by Choi Min-young, as well as her desire to reconnect with her late mother’s culture. The stars align when she gets accepted to the same boarding school her mother attended in Seoul, which Dae also happens to go to. In the pursuit of romance, Kitty finds adventure and, more importantly, a brand new sense of self instead.
Cathcart, who first took on the role of the 11-year-old Kitty at 14, was excited to reprise the role with a fresh perspective and in a brand new setting. For the young actress, they were “feelings that were so close to home.”
“Just going to Korea itself to shoot the show was very parallel to Kitty going to Korea, being far away from home and meeting new people and new challenges,” she recounts. “Me getting on the plane at the start of shooting really felt like, ‘I’m going to start a new adventure.’ It’s so unknown, so it’s scary, but that’s what makes it exciting.”
“Kitty is really in the thick of it. We don’t meet her when she’s already got this part of her life figured out.”
Exploring New Feelings
For Kitty, navigating a new city comes second to navigating unfamiliar burgeoning feelings. The actress says that something very special about their show is that it explores queer storylines that revolve around people of color, a kind of representation rarely traversed on screen and in some spaces in Asia.
“There are multiple queer stories going on [with] multiple different characters that show that everybody’s journey is not going to look the same,” she says. “People can have different feelings and have different experiences with their family, with their circle of friends, or depending on where they live. Showing the diversity in queer stories is really special.”
The show also allows for a certain amount of nuance. Without giving too much of the plot away, characters are able to explore their identities without having to put a label on their feelings, tapping into a special kind of representation that Cathcart hopes can speak to people who grew up having to navigate those same experiences.
“It shows a specific type of journey, as well, that I think is not always portrayed on screen. Kitty is really in the thick of it,” she says. “We don’t meet her when she’s already got this part of her life figured out. She’s kind of realizing it for the first time as well, and it comes as a surprise to her. All the little details about her journey, I think, are really special.”
She continues, “I’ve had friends tell me, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s what happened to me, or this made me really emotional.’ Those moments mean so, so much. And I think that’s when it really hits me and makes me the most excited—that we got to explore that and represent it in a way that was positive for others.”
In all their charm and ability to pull at the heartstrings, To All The Boys and XO, Kitty are both teen dramedies beloved by Gen Z, but the actress says that the show’s storylines might resonate with just about anyone, an older audience included.
“I hope that even parents and family members can watch the show and open those conversations, or see how Kitty’s dad reacts to this information and maybe have that impact them in a positive way,” she expands. “One of my favorite scenes in the whole season is that her dad is just so, so loving, and so accepting immediately. She feels very scared and very lost, but he’s proud of her for being honest with herself and others.”
A Fresh Chapter
As she looks back on XO, Kitty’s first season, in time for the announcement of its renewal on Netflix, Cathcart celebrates her 20th birthday. She allows a moment to reflect on her career—one that she juggles with being a college student at the University of British Columbia—and notes that a healthy balance is what has been keeping her grounded.
“One big thing that my family was always really good about reminding me [of] is that I have other parts of my life still. It wasn’t just acting. It’s an incredible part of my life, but at times, it can become very consuming. It can become your whole world,” she says. “Going to university definitely helps with the stress of the job. It doesn’t have to be just school—having other passions or focusing on keeping your family close. I think it’s really important to have that perspective still.”
For both Kitty and Cathcart, if there’s one thing that’s important, it’s allowing yourself the space to be. She says, “Just giving it a try makes [her] strong, even though she doesn’t realize it. It’s all a part of growing.”
XO, Kitty is available to watch on Netflix now.