Anna Cathcart is part of Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 class of 2018, which spotlights extraordinary young women, girls, and femmes making waves in their industries or passions of choice.
“She’s my queen of all queens,” Anna Cathcart gushes to Teen Vogue of her dream future costar, Zendaya. “She’s not just a triple threat in the industry, she’s also an activist and she stands up for what’s important to her.”
Anna has become an overnight sensation in her own right, due in large part to her role as Kitty Covey in Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The film was a major success and a notably important moment for Asian representation in Hollywood.
“It’s so important for everyone to see someone onscreen that looks like them, no matter what they look like, who they are, or what their race is,” Anna says. “It’s a very underestimated thing that’s not always well represented in the industry, and I think that’s what makes To All the Boys so special.”
She emphasizes the fact that the film features a biracial family without commenting on the interracial family dynamics or Asian identity of the characters. For Anna, this was an especially important part of creating an Asian-American family on film, because it doesn’t define minority characters by their race.
“Usually, [movies] focus on the fact that [characters] are Asian, or they specifically play up their culture and their background,” she explains. “In this movie, we’re an ordinary American family who just live our lives, and they don’t focus on our background and our race.”
Nevertheless, Anna appreciates the impact this film has made for Asians in Hollywood. “I certainly hope that, in the future, having Asian-American leads will not be a big deal…and it will just be happening all the time in the industry, and not just for Asian-Americans, but for every race,” she says. “No matter who you are, if you really want to follow your dreams you can, and it’s not just what you look like or what your background is — anyone has the opportunity to make their dreams come true.”
Like Zendaya, Anna is a young actor determined to stay true to herself in an industry known for manipulation. The 15-year-old has been acting for two years, but in that short time she’s been asked to dye her auburn-colored hair, remove her glasses, and change small parts about her appearance to better suit Hollywood’s vision of what she should look like. But Anna defends her appearance, shooting down requests to change herself for a role.
“I don’t necessarily look like everybody does on TV,” she says. “There are not that many people in the industry that you do see wearing glasses or wearing braces who look like ordinary kids. I think it’s supercool that I can show people you can be an ordinary girl and make it just as well in the industry.”
A sophomore in high school, Anna manages to balance her acting aspirations with her educational responsibilities. She says her friends jokingly refer to her as living a double life, like Hannah Montana, and they’re not wrong. In between homework and dance class, Anna has quickly become a mini celebrity who finds time to audition for new roles and have a typical teenage life.
A self-described introvert, Anna says her reserved personality isn’t something you’d expect from someone in an industry that thrives on extroversion. She doesn’t let this stop her, though; instead, she embraces her uniqueness, reminding herself it’s OK to be different. And her dedication to being herself has paid off. While the star is taking time to focus on school, she hopes to rejoin the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before cast in a sequel and will appear in Disney’s Descendents 3 in 2019.