P-C: You’ve had a ton of success already in your career. When you look back, is there a particular moment that sticks out to you?
Katrina: Yes, there were a couple of moments. My very first job was an extra on Lucky Numbers, a Nora Ephron film. They were shooting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I remember being so excited that a Hollywood production was coming to my side of town. I drove two and a half hours to get to Harrisburg to be an extra. It was in the middle of November. For those of you who don’t know, November in Harrisburg is cold, and they were like, “Well, we need people to jump into the river and get on these floats and act like it’s summertime.” The water was like thirty-five degrees, and the air was thirty-six degrees. We got paid like fifty dollars. [laugh] I remember I was so excited that I volunteered and I did it. It was one of the best days of my life because I was so happy. I love set life, and I was contemplating whether or not I wanted to do this as a career. This was also a test to see if I loved the environment.
It’s amazing. I look back on that, and I think how far I’ve come and how excited I was. There are times where I have to remind myself don’t ever lose that level of excitement. Don’t ever take this industry for granted. Don’t ever take this job for granted. It’s moments like that. I remember when I booked Spartacus. It had been such a struggle. I’d been in LA for ten years at that point and booked nothing. I was told I wasn’t Asian enough or I was too Asian. I was told I wasn’t good enough. I was told I was too fat. I was told this and that—just about everything. Then I booked Spartacus, and I remember I broke down sobbing when I got the call. My husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, was like, “What’s wrong?” I was like, “Nothing. This is so good.” He’s like, “Why are you crying?” I’m like, “I don’t know.” It’s moments like that where I try to hold on to and remember how big this dream was when I was a little girl in Jersey and how impossible it seemed. Now, it’s my nine-to-five, and I have to not forget how hard I fought for it.
P-C: In those moments when you weren’t booking roles, how were you able to push forward and persevere?
Katrina: In this industry, in order to make it, you have to be incredibly stupid and narcissistic at the same time. There was this overwhelming belief that I was going to make it. I was like, “No, this is it! I’m going to make it. You don’t think I’m good enough? I’m totally good enough.” I started to look at myself as a product. I wasn’t going to let the noes and rejection defeat me. I went, “Fine. My product isn’t good enough. I’ll make it better. How do I make it better? You don’t think I’m a good enough actor? Well, I’ll take more classes. You don’t think this and that, I’ll fix it.” As long as I don’t feel like I’m selling my soul, I’ll do it. When everybody is telling you “no,” you have to be your strongest advocate. There are times you have to be stupid and say, “I’m going to make it, and I’m not going to listen to common sense.” [laughs] When you’re not able to pay your rent, you have to be like, “No, it’s fine. It’s totally fine.” I think stupidity and narcissism got me through the majority of my career.
P-C: Who or what would you say has had the biggest influence on your career?
Katrina: I think it’s between my husband, Keith Andreen, and then my manager, Joel Stevens, and their unwavering faith in my eventual success. Their ability to speak to me with the hard truth but yet do it in a kind, loving way that didn’t defeat me or destroy me.
My husband has been my acting coach since 2009. 2009 is when I started really booking everything. He’s been really great at being able to say, “You’re doing one of your tricks” or “I can see you’re phoning it in.” He’s been great because he knows me personally. He’s able to call me out pretty quickly.
The same with my manager. He’s eternally optimistic. Joel Stevens has been there when there were stretches where I wasn’t booking, and at no point did he threaten to drop me as a client. There was a time when I conveyed to him that I was afraid he was going to drop me because I hadn’t booked anything in two years. He goes, “No way. We’re in this for the long run. This is a marathon. This isn’t a sprint.” I think surrounding myself with people who are your biggest cheerleaders in this industry—in any form of life actually—is so important.