Exclusive Interview This Is Us Underdog of the Week

Underdog of the Week – Mackenzie Hancsicsak

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Mackenzie Hancsicsak stars as Kate on This Is Us.

How did you get the role of This Is Us?

I was in a summer camp production of “Munchkin Mediation” (playing Dorothy in a mini Wizard of Oz) and I got the call for the This Is Us audition. My mom asked if they could change the time because I had to be in my final performance. I did the show, went to my audition, and the rest is history.

What is your favorite episode of the show so far?

I really liked the Pool episode in season 1, because we got to spend 3 days filming at a swimming pool. Season 2 I really liked the Halloween episode because we got to film at night with a lot of kids dressed up in costume and there was candy!

Tell us about working with Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore.

Mandy and Milo are awesome. They were both child actors like we all are so they know exactly how we feel! They are the first ones to hug us when we see them on set, Milo gave us all little spinning tops to keep in our pockets to play with together in between scenes and brings in this old Gameboy for us to use. Mandy also gave me her favorite lip-gloss. They always post the cutest family pictures of us together too. I really love them. I just saw them at The Emmy awards, which was a lot of fun.

What about Parker Bates and Lonnie Chavis who play your brothers?

Since I’m raised as an only child (I have a 20 year old half brother who lives in Canada), I love it when I get to see my “brothers” Parker and Lonnie on set. When I come to set some days and it’s just me there and not the boys, its not as fun. When mom gets the call sheet, I always ask if the boys will be there with me that day.

You and Chrissy Metz have never had a scene together because you both play the same character. Have you ever met? Do you guys ever discuss how to play the character?

I met Chrissy early on the lot and have seen her at the studio and for other events. I think she’s an amazing actress. She came to set one day when we were filming a scene at the cabin because she wanted to see what her younger self would have experienced. I thought that was so cool. She’s very nice and always helpful and kind when I see her.

Your character’s weight issues are a very important part of the show and you’ve inspired a lot of kids as a result. How do you feel about that?

Kate shows me how to be able to be whoever I want to be and not to listen to people who tell me I can’t. She also shows me how important it is to love myself for who I am. Lots of girls and their moms write to me telling me how happy they are to have someone like them that can relate to on TV. Sometimes they have the same fears or insecurities as Kate and I hope to help them overcome their doubts and be happy for who they are.

Do people recognize you on the street? How has being on a hit show changed your life?

I do get recognized a lot. When the show first started people would shout “Kate” but now that were starting season 3, people will call out “Mackenzie”. I don’t know why but people come up to me a lot at random places like Target and one person saw me and said she saw my mom and me at the mall but didn’t want to bug us. I love meeting fans of the show so come and say hi! You’re not bugging me.

What would you like Kate to do in season three?

I’ve been asked about adult Kate and I hope she has a baby. For young Kate, I hope to do more scenes with all five of the Pearson family. Scenes with everyone together like Mandy, Milo, Parker, Lonnie and me – that’s a perfect day.

Do you have any favorites shows that you like to watch?

I watch Friends on a loop just ask my mom. I drive her crazy. And of course This is Us. My family and I also love watching Young Sheldon, Modern Family and Fuller House. Oh and of course the new Queer Eye.

We watch as a family and cry as much as when we watch our show. I would love my dad to be on their show. I love him more than anything, but he doesn’t have much style.

Is it hard balancing studies and your work on the show?

I attend public school (which I love) and my friends, but I love acting too. As an actress it can be hard sometimes to balance. Sometimes you feel like you’re missing out on something. But my 6th grade teacher is awesome and I’m doing great so far this year. I just have to make sure I stay organized and get all my schoolwork done. I’m very lucky to have great experiences at school and also on set.

What would you like to do when This Is Us is over?

You mean in another 10 years? I would love to be in a play some day. I love going to see a lot of theater and it would be a dream to appear onstage. I’d also love to be in a movie or another show — or maybe something with dogs. Nothing is better then volunteering with animals.

This Is Us returns for its third season on NBC on September 25th.

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