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Actress and Producer Katherine Norland Chats Career Advice

Industry

Ben Russell

Ben Russell

·23 min read

Katherine Norland has been a working actress in Hollywood for more than 20 years. She's had more than 800 auditions, been cast to act in more than 150 projects from plays to commercials, industrials, film and tv. Her most recent project as a producer and actress in the feature film Cannibal Corpse Killers was released in 2020 and can be found on Amazon Prime, VUDU, Googleplay, Youtube, Xbox, Sony playstation, Fandango now, redbox on demand, select Walmart stores and others. She sat down with us to share her story:

What’s your full name and occupation? My name is Katherine Norland.

I have so many things that occupy my time and thought life. I’ve more than one occupation. Most importantly I am a wife and a mom of two boys (a special-needs 12-year-old and a 2-year-old). I am a daughter, a friend, a mentor, a coach, an encourager.

On a daily basis, I am occupied with the art of self-improvement, learning, researching and experimenting. I’m occupied with ways to better myself as a human being and in turn find ways to be a blessing to others. Whether I’m taking classes in communication, budgeting, Scripture analysis, film directing or wrestling, I’m trying to get to the heart of who I am and what would be the most noble and notable pursuit to be occupied with.

I also happen to act, produce films and online courses, write books (3 poetry books, and a memoir and self-help book are in the works), and I aspire to direct movies.

Tell us about you and your career.
I started pursuing an acting career in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1998. I soon realized that I needed to move to Los Angeles to really get some traction. In March of 2000, I loaded up my Chevy and drove to California in my Minnesota coveralls, face full of acne, and pockets filled chocolate…dreams of doing something more impactful than working in a factory on an assembly line.

Six Hours after I drove into town, I had my first audition, and have had close to 800 auditions since then. I always prided myself on being ready for opportunity to strike, yet I was not always poised for the disappointment that would oftentimes follow this uncertain pursuit.

I learned from my jobs as a regular person in a small town that showing up on time, having a good attitude, and being a hard worker would get you ahead. I learned from my jobs as an aspiring actress in a big city that looking hot, having a huge following, and being open to the casting couch would get you ahead. (Which is most likely why you’ve never heard of me).

Like most aspiring actors, I started doing extra work, earning my Screen Actors Guild vouchers fairly quickly. And got in every student film and little indie film that would have me. I worked for seven years, mostly for the price of craft service, which consisted of warm, plastic-tasting bottled water, stale pretzels, and occasionally a slice of Little Ceasar’s pizza. Sometimes I’d hit up to six auditions a day to build my resume and obtain footage for my demo reel. Which seemed as hard to obtain as a parking spot in L.A.

I had side-hustles to make money like doing make-up on set, flipping signs on the street, and valet parking cars for an all-female agency called “Valet Girls.” After about 10 years of living hand to mouth (only 3% of actors actually make a living at their craft) and being tired of the roles I was being offered, I wanted to do something more. I not only wanted to show more range as an actress, but be more creative. So, I started to write and produce my own short films. That ended up being much more creatively fulfilling, as I could determine what types of characters I would play, not only what I was typecast to play by others.

The entertainment industry often feels like a perpetual theme park. It’s got bright lights, fun rides, and the camaraderie of thousands of people all there for the same purpose. And from the way it’s advertised, everyone wants to go there. But you have to stand in line for hours waiting for your turn to get on a for a five-minute ride, which doesn’t always seem worth it. And sometimes you get sick of cotton candy promises and hot dog deals that leave you indigestion, and you want something more fulfilling like a homecooked meal from someone who will look you in the eye with nothing to hide. Many times I’ve wondered, was my dad right? Should I have stayed in my little town at my stable jobs, and not quit Bible college to take this leap of faith?

But 20 years later, through all the ups and downs of this roller-coaster ride, I still feel like standing in line was worth it. Because the thrill each time you get back on the ride and strap yourself in… it’s a different experience, with new people in the cars, new electricity and excitement and the prospect that something special is going to happen this time. If you do that, it doesn’t get stale; you can reinvent yourself for each and every ride.

If you don’t treat it that way and you get on the next project or ride with resignation that you’ve done this before and “I’m just going to dial it in”… to raise your hands and scream at the right parts, then you’re not newly experiencing it, you’re only reliving what you’ve done before. If that’s the case, just pay for the photo they took of you at the entrance when you were full of hope, and go home.

I attempt to keep things fresh, as if it’s the first time, with each project I take on. I ask myself before each project, what have I learned that I can use to make this project better? Who am I today that’s different from yesterday? And how can I use the sum total of my experiences to bring life to this project and yet still live in the skin of this character as if it’s the first time?

Though I don’t know what my future in the entertainment industry looks like, I know if I treat each day, each project and each person as a gift…there will always be a place for me and my future will unfold just the way it is supposed to, and I remain confident in the mystery of it all.


Tell us about your credits.
I’ve acted in, produced and directed more than 150 projects in the last 20 years. Below is a partial list of a few of my favorites:

2020
Published “Poetic Prescriptions for Pesky Problems” (2nd Edition)
2018 – 2020
Series regular on the Dhar Mann TV mini-series
2019
Co-produced and Starred in “Magic Hour” (now on Amazon Prime)
2019
Published “Poetic Prescriptions for Plaguing Problems”
2018
Produced my second son Elijah 2.5 months early weighing in at 3 lbs 6 oz
2017
Published “Poetic Prescriptions for Eternal Youth”
2017
Guest Starred on 2 episodes of the BET show “Beauty and the Baller”
2016-2017
Executive Produced, Produced and Starred in “Cannibal Corpse Killers” released in 2020 on Amazon Prime, VUDU, Googleplay, Youtube, Xbox, Sony playstation, Fandango now, redbox on demand, select Walmart stores and others.
2016
Guest Starred on an episode of “Snapped”
2014-2016
Various roles in front and behind the camera including “Sex Sent me to the ER” where I played a doctor
2013
Co-produced “What Remains” Which won audience choice award at the 168 Hour Film Festival
2011-2012
Had a national commercial running with my actual son Timothy
2010
Starred in “Reality Terror Night” with Martin Kove
2009
Supporting role in “The Pendant” directed by Nick Carter of the Back Street Boys and Starred in the music video “Memory Lane” for the Grammy nominated artist Stephen Petree
2007-2009
Produced my first son Timothy 4 months early at 1.5 pounds and spent the next 3 years going to doctors/specialists/therapists up to 10 times a week and finding out about all of his special needs due to his premature birth.
2007
Supporting role in “Chicago Massacre: Richard Speck” with Corin Nemec
2006
Starred in “On the Fringe” and was nominated for Best Actress
2005
Co-starred in “Malcolm in the Middle” Mrs. Tri-County episode
2000-2005
Dozens of others acting credits you’d be bored to tears with if listed.

Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
I had to choose myself when no one else would choose me.

Actors and many other players in the entertainment industry are often at the mercy of someone they need to say yes to them. It is easy to develop a complex or think there is something wrong with you when you hear no after no after no. When cold and calloused casting directors, producers and directors in the Entertainment Industry, who for the sake of giving honest feedback, let me know all the reasons they didn’t think I was right for the part outwardly. Here are a few, and by no means an exhaustive list of why I lost roles: Your voice is too young Your teeth are crooked You’re too pale. You’re too fat. Your face looks 20 but your neck looks 30. You look like a Barnum and Bailey circus freak with your two different colored eyes. You’re too pretty to be that fat. A director hit me in the stomach and said, “You better lose this or you’re not going to fit the costume. Another grabbed my bingo wings and exclaimed with great indignation, “What is this? What is this?” A third placed his hands on my shoulder after an audition and said “Jeeze, you’re like a linebacker.” One fired me from hosting a TV show because I was too fat. This happened, coincidently, after he took me and the other co-host out to breakfast where I ordered a full bacon, egg, hash brown, toast, and orange juice meal while my skinny and perfect co-host ordered only a grapefruit and coffee. Hey, I’m going to take advantage when I’m getting a FREE breakfast!

I started to get a complex about how I looked, and thought I didn’t have what it took to make it in this industry. My journey from self-loathing to self-love is chronicled both in the book “Poetic Prescriptions for Eternal Youth” (link to the free book download below), as well as my online course “You Are Worthy” which launches January 1st, 2021.

When I would start to get discouraged, my girlfriend Jenna used to always remind me that it only takes seven to ten years to become an overnight success. Twenty years later, overnight success still seems as possible to grasp as the fog over the Santa Monica sunrise.

Yet I press on.

My roles have changed, my looks have changed, my job titles have changed. But what hasn’t changed is the love I have for storytelling, and the hopes I have to make a difference in this world through those stories. Others may tell their stories better, others may have bigger budgets or movie star casts, but they can’t tell my stories the way I’d tell them.

I’ve learned that maybe I am a circus freak, maybe I am an oddball, but that’s okay. My uniqueness is not a stumbling block, it’s become a stepping stone, and I am loving the climb.

What advice do you have for people looking to break into the industry?
Lying on the cold pavement at 3:00 in the morning, covered in sticky Karo syrup blood, playing a dead body in January is not glamourous… but then again, neither is a mundane mediocre life where you’re playing it safe in the cocoon of your comfort zone.

Sometimes you have to burn your boats or sell your Chevy and not look back.

My advice would be: • Go for what you want. • If people aren’t offering you the roles or opportunities you desire, make your own. • Network. Build a team of creatives that want to come out and play. • Make your own projects. • Cast yourself in a way no one else would. • Don’t wait for someone else to greenlight you; greenlight yourself. • Believe in yourself. No one else might, but if you do, others are a lot more likely to. • Don’t let perceived flaws hold you back. This industry is filled with flawed oddballs, and there’s a place for each of us. • Ditch the idea of competition and realize, no one can take what is meant for you. • Don’t be all talk and no show. • Get good at your craft. Learn, study, take classes, make films, and get creative. • Don’t fake it – don’t try to be famous for being famous. Have some actual talent to hang your hat on, because those who love you now may ditch you when your looks are gone, and if you’ve built your talent on something that fades like a flower, you’ll wonder what’s become of your life.


What are your favorite shows/film?
Some of my favorite shows and films lately have been “The Kids Are Alright,” “Songland,” The Masked Singer,” “The Greatest Showman,” “Arrival,” and almost anything with Drew Barrymore and Charlize Theron.


How can we follow you online?

Here’s a link to my get one of my book downloads.

Instagram.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Like my Facebook page.

My acting website in desperate need of an update.

Cannibal Corpse Killers website.

Everything but the kitchen sink link.