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Anna Cathcart on taking the lead in Netflix’s ‘XO, Kitty’

Anna Cathcart was just 14 years old when she took on the role Kitty Covey in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Now 19 years old, she reprises the role once again but as the lead of her own series in XO, KittyLSA sat down with Covey to talk about the the role.

For Anna Cathcart, stepping into Kitty’s shoes again is a big moment. The 19-year-old actress has played Katherine “Kitty” Song Covey for the past three To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movies on Netflix. Now, she’s going solo for the original Netflix spin-off series XO, Kitty. It’s a challenge that Anna Cathcart is ready to take on.

From when she was 14 years old, Anna Cathcart won the heart of fans with her sweet yet equally hilarious performance. We argue that if it were not for Kitty sending Lara Jean’s letters, would there even be a story in the first place? She started it all. The film trilogy became one of Netflix’s most viewed original films. It was also a watershed moment for representation, being one of the first teen romance films to feature an Asian-American protagonist. So, it’s no surprise that Netflix announced a spin-off series after the films ended. But this time, the youngest Covey sister is taking the lead. 

For Anna Cathcart, it’s a dream come true to reprise a role close to her heart. And for the fans of the original films, it’s a chance to see the character grow. In the series, the resident matchmaker is back, and she’s all grown up. Kitty decides to head to Seoul after learning that her late mother studied there for an exchange programme. It’s also a great chance to reunite with her long-distance boyfriend, Dae (Choi Min-young)—or so she thought. In the process, she learns more, not only about the people close to her but also about herself.

Ahead of its release on Netflix, Lifestyle Asia sat down with Anna Cathcart to talk about her role as Kitty, her experience filming in Seoul, and what XO, Kitty means for many young people (and those young at heart).

anna cathcart xo, kitty netflix
Image credit: Netflix

Do you find it challenging to take on an original spin-off compared to the All The Boys movies?

It is. It felt like finding a new world within an established universe because it’s the same character. But she happens to be in a very different environment with new people. I was excited to read the script for the first time because I had heard about this series for so long. We have been in talks about it, but I did not get a chance to know the actual storyline and what would happen—so, reading that for the first time and figuring out where Kitty’s story was going was very exciting.

It’s also fun because it’s the same person but a whole new world. I get to meet many fun new characters I love so much. The dynamics between Kitty and all of them are so distinct that I’m excited for everyone to see it. I think people who watched the movies and those who didn’t watch the film can still enjoy the series because it’s standalone. It’s also a significant extension of the world that we’ve already seen in All the Boys.

Is there anything that feels different about playing Kitty this time?

It’s definitely a new stage for Kitty and me, Anna Cathcart, so those are aligning. It’s a new time in her life and a new time in my life as well. It feels like I’m just revisiting an old friend that I know well and getting to see her again. But at the same time, I’m also relearning about her because she’s grown up and changed. Kitty has also learned a lot in her life over the years that have passed. So, finding out where Kitty was in her life now was fascinating. It feels that I’ve grown up alongside her.

anna cathcart xo, kitty netflix
Image credit: xokittynetflix/Instagram

What was the experience like on set with a new cast?

It was so much fun. I got to make many new friends and meet many new people. Of course, we had our international school experience, too, as we all lived in the same building and could go down the hall and hang out with each other after work. That was so special. But being in a new environment with a new group was amazing. I can’t wait for the world to meet the new characters because I love them all as people and as characters. Personally, it was fun to bridge these two worlds with the spirit of To All the Boys and brand-new magic.

Tell us more about the different dynamics and relationships in the series that we should be excited about.

Kitty has a lot of different relationships that are very distinct and not just romantic relationships, but even her relationship with her teacher Alex (Peter Thurnwald) and Principal Lim (Kim Yun-jin) and everybody else. There are simply different sides of Kitty that come out with different people.

I have so much love for all of the different storylines because another way to get to know Kitty is through her interactions with people. The show is not just about romantic love but it’s about friendship, family love, and of course self-love. Kitty learning more about herself is a really big part of XO, Kitty and I can’t wait to see the reactions of the fans (laughs).

anna carthcart xo kitty netflix
Image credit: Netflix

How was the experience filming in Seoul for XO, Kitty?

It was a different experience this time. When I went to Seoul for the previous movies, it was only for a couple of weeks. We were just in and out and working a lot. We got to be tourists but didn’t really get to know the city. This time, I was in Seoul for four months. So, I was really able to get to know the different neighbourhoods. We were able to film in different little areas and drive a few hours from the main city.

Seoul is such a beautiful place and it’s such a cool city. There’s always something happening and it’s so vibrant. And because it’s just so pretty, I constantly looked out the window when driving to work, thinking “Oh my god, everything’s so beautiful”. I think my camera has about 30,000 photos just from the time of filming. Actually, honestly, it’s probably more than that. (laughs)

It was just so special to embrace a new culture and learn. Plus, a lot of our cast members are from South Korea. It was great having tour guides in the friend group. They show us their favourite places. That way, we were also able to bond with each other after work, just going around and getting food late at night! Going for karaoke was a really big thing for us, it was something we all loved.

anna cathcart xo, kitty netflix
Anna Cathcart in ‘To All the Boys: Always and Forever’ Image credit: Netflix

What does Kitty mean to you?

Kitty meant different things at different stages in my life. At the start, when I first started playing Kitty, it was the summer before ninth grade. That was a pivotal time as I was growing up as well. I was able to learn so much from that cast. I also felt very lucky to have so many role models like Lana and Janelle. So, I still hold them so close to my heart and I’m so grateful for what they’ve taught me. 

So, Kitty is really important to me as we’ve grown up together but the reason why it’s so important has also changed. We’ve both changed and I just feel lucky that as an actor, I’ve been able to follow a character for many years at various stages of her life.

What do you hope viewers take away from the series?

The core theme of XO, Kitty is figuring out who you are while growing up! But at the same time, it also shows that you’re not always going to be confident about what’s happening all the time. What you want to do and what you want to follow can seem so overwhelming. This series is notable because Kitty portrays that growing up is a universal experience no matter where you’re from, who you are, or what your family looks like.

Many people go through similar experiences, and you can easily find the connection between yourself and the characters in the series. In fact, you might not even realise it, but you’re not alone, and other people might be struggling with you. Our story and cast are diverse, so I hope people feel represented and comforted.

XO, Kitty releases on May 18, exclusively on Netflix. Watch the trailer below:

Anna Cathcart on taking the lead in Netflix’s ‘XO, Kitty’

An introvert at heart, Jianne expresses herself best through her writing. This Filipino, Hong Kong-born native loves to cover food, entertainment, and culture. When she's not writing, you can find looking for the best eats in town, watching movies or Korean dramas, or travelling solo.


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