Looking for a new movie to get hooked on this weekend? Look no further than Katherine McNamara’s latest thriller, Natural Selection. The suspenseful drama follows Tyler, a new student just trying to keep his head above water, and the relationships formed and decisions made along the way—no matter the risk. See what Kat has to say about it all…

Justine Magazine: In your own words, tell us a little bit about Natural Selection.
Kat McNamara: Natural Selection follows the story of these characters in a small town, and the way they deal with the dark side of their past and the skeletons in their closets. The film is called Natural Selection because it’s about how they deal with these challenges that they face, and these obstacles and things that are the dark part of themselves. How they deal with them really defines who they are and, essentially, their survival.

JM: Tell us about your character, Paige. 
KM: Paige is a girl who has grown up in this town that she loves, but she is dealing with growing up and out of the situation that she’s been in, and, you know, dealing with letting go of a really negative past relationship so that she can get into potentially a wonderful new one. She’s dealing with figuring out who she is and who she wants to be, and how she is going to connect herself to the world as an adult. 

JM: So given all of that info, what would you say is the most important takeaway from the film for teens?
KM: Just that everybody has challenges and things that could make them negative and could take them to a very dark place, but it’s all about surrounding yourself with people that bring positivity and bright light and joy into your life as opposed to bringing you down with them.

JM: Any thoughts, personally, or advice on how to make peer-to-peer relationships stronger?
KM: You know, it’s all about finding people that appreciate you for who you are, and love you for what makes you special, and don’t try to change you or force you into beliefs and opinions that aren’t yours. Something that’s so great about friendship in adolescence and young adulthood is that you do share opinions and you can have different opinions among your friend group, but all of that still allows you to keep a different perspective and grow and challenge yourself in a healthy way. But it’s when those challenges become unhealthy and become manipulative that you need to be careful. 

JM: If your Shadowhunters character, Clary, had actually been the character in this film, would there have been a different outcome in this situation?
KM: (Laughs) Oh, I think there would have been a very different outcome! I think we all know how feisty Clary is and how much of a fighter she is, whereas Paige is more of a passivist in the way she deals with things. Clary definitely would not stand on the sidelines and let things happen the way they do. 
JM: And which character do you think you relate to more? 
KM: I think I’m more like Clary. I definitely have a feisty side. Both girls have a fierce loyalty to the people they love, but Clary has this spunk that you can’t quite put your finger on and I love that about her. 

JM: Did you film this movie in a real high school? How did that affect the realism?
KM: We did actually, it’s very interesting. For this movie, our director wrote it, directed it… it was a film that kind of became his baby when he was in film school. He did a short outside of his thesis and had the opportunity to expand it to a full-length feature. We shot it at the high school that he actually went to. It gave us all a real insight into why he wrote the story and what it was all about. This high school was in a very small town in Pennsylvania, so standing in the middle of nowhere, being a part of this school, I remember Mason and Ryan and I would just take off on the weekend and drive around and look at beautiful scenery to get a feel for the environment and the community that the story was set in.