What happens when an average man with an average family life stumbles upon a life-changing secret that throws his world upside down? Viewers of the new exciting series Average Joe (2023) are about to find out.
I sat down with Kathrine Barnes, who plays a fierce and deadly character in the brand-new show. In our interview, we discuss everything from Kathrine's humble upbringing in Rhode Island, her challenging role in Average Joe, and what helps her persevere as an actor in Hollywood.
The Humble Beginning
Maya Capasso: When did you first discover your passion for acting and performing?
Kathrine Barnes: I can't give you a specific date or event, but I loved movies as a kid. We weren't a TV household, but I watched a lot of films, some of which were age-appropriate and some of which I was definitely too young to have seen [Kathrine laughs]. I loved the films, and I loved the actors in them. I couldn't always remember what the movies were about, but I always remembered how the actors made me feel. And then I ended up seeing and loving a bunch of musicals and it was all over for me. I've been like this since.
MC: What was your first significant acting role, and what was that experience like?
KB: I played a Rockette in this movie that Julie Taymor directed called The Glorias (2020). It's about feminist icon Gloria Steinem. I played a dancer, which I also am in real life. I also had to do a thick northeastern accent, so I felt right at home. It was fantastic. I was only there for one day, but I had been doing extra work before that, so when I got there, and I got to say a line, I was like, “This is the greatest day of my life.”
MC: Did you face any challenges when you first pursued acting professionally? If so, how did you overcome those challenges?
KB: Mostly a lack of knowledge and access. I had to learn everything the hard way. My parents weren't in the performing arts, So I didn't know where to start. It's been pretty typical obstacles since then. I feel lucky that my brain looks at obstacles like creative challenges to solve or fights to have, and damn if I don't love a good fight.
Kathrine's Insight on Average Joe
MC: Can you tell me about the premise of the new show Average Joe?
KB: Totally. So Deon Cole plays Joe Washington, and he has a wife and a daughter. They live in Pittsburgh. They are average until Joe's father dies, and Joe finds out that his father has been stealing money from the Russian mob. The show is 10 episodes of seeing what happens and how Joe and his family and friends react to that significant information coming to light.
MC: What was it like to portray your character Arina “The Chameleon,” the retired assassin?
KB: It was the best. There's not a lot more you can ask for in a role. I had to exercise every single skill I have ever accumulated throughout my performing life and then learned so many more. It was physical, and it was fun. Every day was challenging, but I was so happy to be there.
MC: In what ways are you similar and different from your character Arina?
KB: I have to be careful about this one. First of all, I have never killed anyone. Get it on the record. [Kathrine laughs]. Arina ended up in circumstances she couldn't even conceive of escaping for the longest time. And it's hard to say if I would do anything differently because I'm not in her shoes. But I am so gut and instinct-oriented that when something is off, I start looking for ways to fix it or remove myself quickly. I don't know if I would've made it as long in the mob [laughs.] This is not to say I would be the first person in the planet's history to escape successfully on my first attempt.
We are very similar in many ways. She's pretty cerebral. She notices everything. I feel that way too, which is often to my detriment. She's tenacious, and ultimately the point of her role is to show that there is nothing she won't do for the people she loves. And I strongly identify with that.
Nothing is Black and White
MC: What was your favorite part about working on this project?
KB: Let me think of an appropriate answer that's not a full-blown spoiler. I think it was probably how hard I had to work on making Arina's skills believable, whether physical, vocal, or just vibe-wise. That was so much fun despite how difficult it was. And the people in this cast are some of the funniest people I've ever met. So even when the show gets dark and emotional, we laughed our asses off between takes. I loved how hard it was, and then I loved how joyful it was.
MC: What do you hope viewers take away after watching the debut season?
KB: I hope that people are thinking a little bit more about the ways in which we live in the gray area, you know, as opposed to black and white. There are no good people, and there are no bad people. People are much more complicated than that. You can find relatable and reprehensible stuff in the same person at any given time. I think it's more interesting to watch content that way. So I hope people keep an eye on things they can think about differently.
Kathrine's Passion and Purpose
MC: What is your favorite thing about being a professional actor?
KB: There are a few, but getting to sustain myself doing my favorite thing in the whole world is pretty high up there. Getting to work with people who are just at the top of their game, who want the same things that you do. Having the space in your life to dive into a character. It's such a gift, honestly.
MC: What inspires you to keep going when it gets tough in the cutthroat entertainment industry?
KB: It doesn't feel that hard to keep going. Honestly, this is how I get to do my favorite thing in the world. I also have this bone-deep knowledge that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Not everybody has that. Not everybody gets that. So I feel lucky that way.
MC: What would you pick if you could change one thing about Hollywood?
KB: I probably have a hundred different answers to this question, but today I will say I would change the fact that the studios won't agree to the Writer's Guild‘s very reasonable requests required for them to sustain a life as a creative.
MC: Do you have any plans, dreams, or goals you'd like to share with our readers?
KB: You know what, I have a couple of unhinged things up my sleeve, but I'm not quite ready to talk about them yet. So be on the lookout!
This interview was edited for clarity and length.