Katherine Mallen Kupferer

A natural. This young lady is taking the world by storm - and rocking the red carpet while she's at it. Actor, athlete, and all around savvy teen, Katherine Mallen Kupferer is making her way with so much poise and confidence, it's a lesson in how do it! (PS - her Mom, Tara, is a FLAIR spotlight too!)

Tell me about your work or specialty.

So, I am an actor, I have been working in professional productions since I was about seven, but just in the past couple years did I join SAG (the Screen Actors Guild) and became a professional screen actor. I do both on camera work, such as movies, commercials or TV shows, and then I also do theater...straight plays.

How'd you get to where you are now - and any highlights to share?

I grew up in the theater community because both of my parents are also actors - and just loved performing and telling stories since I was very little, when I would put on plays for my family which I made with my friends. I started off by getting a role in Gypsy because my Dad had been cast in it (in Chicago, where we live) and they were looking for a little girl to play the balloon girl. My parents were very hesitant to let me try it out, worried that I would absolutely hate it and just want to go home. However, they couldn't have been more wrong. I loved the whole experience so much and I would even pretend that I didn't know my Mom when she would come to pick me up.

Then once I got a little older, I started to get more involved in acting and was able to get an agent (who's a family friend and both my parent's agent)... a few things later led me to getting the role in the current movie adaptation of Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me Margaret. where I star as Gretchen, one of Margaret's best friends. That was such an incredible experience (obviously!).

What surprises you in your work, now or in the past?

I think something that surprised me during "Margaret" was how Kelly Fremon Craig, our director, really let us or even pushed us to make our own decisions during filming and have our own personalities come through into the character. I feel like that definitely comes across on the screen. And it just made me, and I'm sure some of the other kids, feel a lot more comfortable when we were filming. Another thing would be now that the movie has come out, I am realizing how monumental it really is and how it will connect to all generations now and to come. I really didn't get that when I was filming it - how it will always be a movie that women all across the word can associate with and see themselves in. That is something that surprised me the most, but also something that I love the most about being able to be a part of the film.

Did Covid affect what you do in any way?

Yes of course, I think that in many ways it was negative (but there were some positives as well). It stopped school for me for two years, pretty much, and we were just living in fear for a really long while thinking that that would be the new normal. I was pretty much just alone all day long for the first few months, but then we went to upstate New York (where my parents are from) and I was able to be outside all the time. A major positive would be that I don't think I would have been seen for (and booked) the "Margaret" movie otherwise. The auditions were all online and they were able to look at people from all over. Zoom meetings allowed me to audition and have callbacks from Chicago/upstate New York - I didn't have to be in L.A. where they probably would've concentrated!

What are some other activities you’re involved with?

When I'm not acting I spend my time in the Hudson Valley where my family has a horse farm. I love to ride horses - I compete during the summer and sometimes in the fall at Novice level, I also am a part of the United States Pony Club. I have recently become the proud owner of 11 year old Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, "Bay Is The New Black," affectionately known as "Piper." Besides that I also swim and play lacrosse for my high school. This year was my first year playing lacrosse and I was somehow able to be named team captain. I have family that also plays so that is how I got into it. Swimming on the other hand is something that I have always loved, but this year is the first time that I really got into it and was doing it as a sport and not just like a workout or for fun.

What drives you crazy?

The first thing that comes to mind is when people chew with their mouths open or just make loud and unnecessary sounds while eating! The problem is if I ever say that to someone, they will just do it so I have to keep quiet about that. It's just little sounds that (especially if we are in a quiet area) where I will get paranoid, or if I'm already upset with someone or something, the eating sounds just drive me crazy!

Who inspires you?

The first person who comes to mind would be my Mom, I know that's somewhat of a generic answer but honestly she does so much for me and other people, she is just a genuine selfless person and I feel like I would be so lucky to become a person like her. She is an amazing actor and artist, and I definitely wouldn't be in the position I am without her helping me every step of the way. Another person is my best friend at school. She is incredibly smart and just another incredibly kind and considerate person to people that don't always treat her with the same care - I have seen her time and time again succeed at things that just amaze me...I push myself academically because I see what she is capable of. And lastly is my Dad, not only am I including him in this because I feel bad about mentioning my Mom (JUST KIDDING!), my Dad is another great actor and has such a stage presence that he really steals the show, so to speak, whenever I watch him. He is also insanely athletic to the point where it annoys me how fast he can pick something up, where I have been working on a certain skill for ages - he gets it immediately.

Words of wisdom or thoughts?

I saw this video the other day and what the guy said really stood out to me: "If I offered you a million dollars you would most likely take it, and you would say something like thank you very much and take the money and leave. But the only catch is that you won't be able to wake up in the morning. Would you still take the money? Probably not. So, instead of taking the money, wake up every day and think how each day is worth a million dollars and live it that way." That is something that I still think about. I feel that life-perspective will benefit me and the way that I act around others, so maybe if other people hear it they can be benefited by it, too.


Katherine Mallen Kupferer, born to theatrical parents, made her professional stage debut in Chicago Shakespeare Theater's acclaimed production of Gypsy, and her major motion picture debut in Steve McQueen's film Widows. She can currently be seen starring as Gretchen in Lionsgate's film adaptation of Judy Blume's Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. When she's not acting or singing along to her favorite musical (Annie), Katherine loves to ride horses - most recently taking fourth place in the Beginner Novice division at the Kent School Horse Trials. She has also become the proud owner of 11 year old Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, "Bay Is The New Black," affectionately known as "Piper." She lives in Chicago.

Photo credit: Eric Charbonneau

(published 2023)