Who Is Katherine Langford?
Katherine Langford was born in Perth, Australia, on April 29, 1996, but she became a star in America playing a troubled high school teen named Hannah Baker in the critically acclaimed Netflix series 13 Reasons Why starting in 2017.
Movies and TV Shows
Except for a few student films she describes as “horrendous,” Langford had never acted professionally at all until she won the role in 13 Reasons Why when she was barely 20.
And yet, the role of Hannah earned her a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama (she lost to Elisabeth Moss, who won for The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu, at the 2018 Golden Globes in January 2018).
'13 Reasons Why'
Adapted from a 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why is about a high school teen who commits suicide – what led up to it, and what happened afterward. Like the book, the TV show is centered on a collection of audiocassettes the dead girl left behind on which she recorded an “audio diary” detailing 13 reasons why she killed herself.
The show’s episodes were each based on a single side of a cassette. For example, Episode One was titled “Tape 1, Side A.”
Controversy About Teen Suicide
13 Reasons Why became a sensation and so did Langford. It has been referred to as the “most tweeted-about show of 2017” – a milestone it reportedly earned within a month of its premiere in March 2017.
The show ignited an increase in discussions about teen suicides, with on-line searches on the subject reportedly “skyrocketing” after the show’s premiere. But the show was also controversial for the graphic nature of some of its contents, including two rape scenes and the scene of Hannah’s suicide in which she slit her wrists in a bathtub.
“When you make a show like this, we expected controversy,” Langford said in an interview with Variety. “Overall, I think it was a good thing. You need there to be opinions in order for there to be discussions, and that’s really what the show is about — talking about issues that are taboo or that people wouldn’t usually discuss with parents or teachers.”
At least one distraught father blamed 13 Reasons Why for the suicide of his 15-year-old daughter. He said his daughter binge-watched the show just before killing herself.
Langford’s newfound fame earned her roles in at least three new movies. Two of them – The Misguided and Love, Simon – were due to be released in 2018. A third movie, Spontaneous, is in pre-production. The second season of 13 Reasons Why is also expected to premiere in May 2018.
As of January 2018, Langford had 8.2 million followers on Instagram (@KatherineLangford).
In the wake of the first season of 13 Reasons Why, Langford was reluctant at first to put herself out there on social media. But it was Selena Gomez who persuaded Langford to make her Instagram account public. Gomez is one of the executive producers on 13 Reasons Why.
“It was a bit of a big decision for me actually, because I wanted to be an actor purely for the acting work,” Langford said in an interview with TheLast-magazine.com. “I have never been attracted to increasing my popularity or hireability by being on Instagram.
“I didn’t want to make myself a consumable product. I just wanted to be able to do my job and then disappear. Selena pointed out that the show is targeting young adults like me and that [social media] is a good medium to talk directly with those who relate to my character, Hannah.”
Though rumors have persisted that Langford is dating (or has dated) Dylan Minette, her co-star and on-screen boyfriend on 13 Reasons Why, the rumors are not true (or at least they have been denied by both Langford and Minette). As of January 2018, she was not reportedly dating anyone.
Early Life & Career
Katherine Langford was born in Perth, Australia, on April 29, 1996. Formerly a high school swimmer, she said she was inspired at age 16 to take up acting after seeing Lady Gaga in concert. “It was like a spiritual experience,” Langford told Entertainment Weekly. “I was so moved by her performance that I went home and that week I taught myself how to play piano.”
Langford took her first acting classes in Perth when she was 17. She concentrated on acting classes in her senior year in high school, after which she went on auditions (including auditions for parts in two network pilots that she didn’t get).
Living in Perth and unemployed, she then heard about auditions for 13 Reasons Why and sent a videotape (something actors from abroad sometimes do when they cannot audition in person). She had a follow-up audition via Skype and won the part.
“It was tricky and very, very challenging casting Hannah,” said the show’s creator, Brian Yorkey. “We saw many talented, wonderful actresses, but we just needed the person that brought that very special luminosity. We needed that, and that came via a self-tape from Perth, Australia, in the form of Katherine Langford.”
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