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Catherine Bradley a Rebel at Heart

Jacket: CD Greene Skirt: Bibhu Mohapatra

Catherine Ashmore Bradley, is a multifaceted actor whose talent knows no bounds. Based between the bustling cities of New York and Los Angeles, Catherine has graced both stage and screen with her captivating performances. From bringing the beloved character of Lily Potter Jr. to life in "Harry Potter and The Cursed Child" on Broadway to enchanting young audiences as Deema, "The Drama Queen," in Nickelodeon's "Bubble Guppies," her versatility shines brightly.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into Catherine Bradley's recent contribution to "Dear Rebel." Catherine shares her personal connection to the Rebel Girls books, illustrating how the empowering tales of women who defied norms have shaped her own journey. From cherished childhood moments of bedtime stories to a multigenerational legacy of strong, resilient women in her family, Catherine's commitment to inspiring young girls goes beyond the screen, reflecting a profound understanding of the impact media and storytelling can have on fostering positive change. As we unravel her insights, Catherine's passion for amplifying diverse voices, breaking down stereotypes, and championing gender equality becomes evident, offering a glimpse into her ongoing mission to empower the next generation.

IRK: What drew you to "Dear Rebel"? Can you share a bit about your personal connection to the book and what inspired you to be a contributor to it?

My sisters and I grew up with the Rebel Girls books and have the entire collection thanks to my grandmothers and my mom. My mom and her mother are the ultimate Rebel Girls.  My grandmother was a trailblazer starting a newspaper as a single mom with two little girls, and my mom was so inspired by her mother that she too has achieved what felt impossible at times but kept on going. Every Christmas, they would buy my sisters and me the latest books from the collection! The Rebel Girls books are incredible, and it is so important for girls to see real life role models who inspire them to reach for their dreams and dream big.  So, when we had an opportunity to contribute to the latest book, “Dear Rebel,” it was such an honor and so exciting. Our poem, “A Mother’s Ode to Three Beautiful Sisters,” is based on our lives with our mom and bedtime stories where our mom would bring all our stuffed animals . . . mischievous elves, determined rhinos, golden fairies .  . . to life taking us to magical worlds each evening. This poem really celebrates our love for one another and love for what makes us all unique, but the same.

Dress: Cynthia Rowley Earrings: House12 at Flying Solo

IRK: As you read through the stories of the 145 women featured in the book, could you share a memorable story or piece of advice from the book? Did you also notice a particular message or theme that resonated with you on a personal level? What was it?

Catherine: The stories and advice shared by the incredible women in this book are amazing, inspiring, and just beautiful.  I have read every story and each one of them has touched my heart.  The messages in this book that really resonated with me center around women who have broken barriers, created real change, were resilient in times of real tragedy, but still kept their optimism, and especially the women who dreamed big!

IRK: As an actress, how does your involvement in "Dear Rebel" relate to your work in the entertainment industry? Can you recall a specific "ah-ha" moment from the book that really struck a chord with you, perhaps something that made you reflect on your own journey or experiences?

Catherine: As an actress, especially on a Nickelodeon show that millions of kids around the world watch, you realize that your actions and your words have an impact on others.  With leadership or a public identity comes responsibility.  It is not just a responsibility to be a strong female role model, but also to fight for those who have lost their voices.  So as an actress, I am also a female rebel who wants to speak out for women everywhere and make sure we all have an equal voice and opportunities everywhere on this planet.  Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go, but we have to keep speaking up, especially for those women in parts of the world where they are not allowed to have a voice.  But what really struck me were the stories by those like Tara Kangarlou who wrote of her experiences as a young girl immigrating to the US from Iran for a better life, only to be met with discrimination and prejudice from her new home.  We should embrace our differences and I believe that is when we will find unity throughout our world.

IRK: Among the diverse contributors in "Dear Rebel," is there one story that you found particularly moving or inspiring? What about it touched you on a personal level?

Catherine: There are so many amazing stories that inspired me like Jaclyn Corin, who turned her experience as a Parkland student into real advocacy, Brooklinn Khoury, who shared her reconstructive surgery journey with such transparency.  But the letter of love and thanks written by Dr. Geetha Murali to her mother entitled, “Dear Ma,” brought me to tears.  I could easily see myself writing a similar letter to my mom, and my mom to her mom.  My generation’s mothers and grandmothers made huge sacrifices and hard choices to make better lives for their families and all of us.  Geetha talked about her mother showing her the “power of rebellion.”  My mother and her mother have done the same for me and my sisters. That is what is beautiful about this book.  I learned I have so much in common and share such similar values with people who are also so different than me.

Dress: Elmadawy New York at Flying Solo

IRK: Your contribution to the book is a family affair, focusing on your mother's inspiration. How do you believe this family perspective adds to the collection's overall message of empowerment and resilience?

Catherine: The poem was definitely a family affair, and I felt that was unique about our contribution to Dear Rebel. Instead of a piece from one, our piece was written by four women, my sisters Alex and Aubin, and my mom Sarah, and me to highlight the strength of women coming together – celebrating our differences but finding our common light.   The poem has many different messages such as the power and magic of a mother’s love for her children.  I do not believe there is a stronger love on this planet.  But the main message is to be you, celebrate your individuality, dream bigger than big, but along the way we must love each other and support each other always – not just sisterly love, but women everywhere supporting each other and lifting each other up!

IRK: Rebel Girls is an empowerment brand for girls that emphasizes girl-driven media. Along with being part of a book that includes contributors like Iman Vellani, Malia Baker, Momona Tamada, Kyndra Sanchez, and Dana Heath. What role do you think media and storytelling play in inspiring and empowering young girls?

Catherine: Media and storytelling have an extremely large influence on inspiring and empowering women, but it needs to be done responsibly and young girls need more telling of the powerful stories of women.  I became an actress because I love storytelling, especially the stories of real women who were strong, persevered, and fought for themselves and others.  Also, young women like me spend so much time on social media and there needs to be more content that makes women feel empowered versus insecure.  That’s why I love Rebel Girls and am so proud and honored to be part of their brand.  Their content is focused on empowering women. When I go to college, I plan on not just studying acting, but want to learn film, directing, and production.  I want to produce, direct act, and tell the stories of strong women.  There are not enough of these stories out there and there are so many great ones that need to be told.  That is my ultimate goal as an actress and young woman.

IRK: "Rebel Girls" is known for celebrating and showcasing women with diverse backgrounds and professions. How does this diversity in role models benefit young girls, and why is it still crucial in today's world?

Catherine: That is what makes Dear Rebel so unique.  There is a role model for everyone in the book.  There is such a diversity in background, race, religion, profession, country, culture, and passions.  But what makes this book so special is you find role models that you may at first glance think you have nothing in common with, but as you read their story, you realize you share the same fears, insecurities, self-doubts, and love.  Role models come in all shapes and sizes and learning to find role models and mentors is one of the most critical things a young woman can do in her life.

Dress: Elmadawy New York at Flying Solo

IRK: You mentioned Rebel Girl Fest in New York/New Jersey. Can you tell us more about the festival and your role in it?

Catherine: Rebel Girl Fest and International Day of the Girl was such a fun day and series of events.  In addition to reading the poem with my mother and sisters for book signings, I got to be a substitute teacher for a day at the infamous Union High School in New Jersey. I got to spend the day with students from a US history class, theatre class, and playwriting class.  It was so special, and I really bonded with all the students.  They asked me a ton of questions and we just talked, shared, and laughed a lot. I really hope that they walked away from that day realizing that we all had so much in common and shared a passion for school and the arts and of course, history!

IRK: In addition to your book, acting work & overall involvement in "Dear Rebel" , has your collaboration with Rebel Girls influenced your personal mission and advocacy for empowering girls and women? Do you have some other projects or initiatives that you're passionate about or involved in?

Catherine: My collaboration with Rebel Girls is an extension of my personal goal to advocate for young girls and women and all humans, especially children, who need help finding their voice.  My older brother Colin really inspired me and our family when he went away to high school during COVID and met Obed, a new classmate and soccer teammate from Ghana. Fast forward, and our already large family has grown by one.  We all have a new brother. Initiated by my brother and Obed, we have been working with a Ghanaian charity to help children in Ghana have an education, something most of us take for granted!

Dress: Bibhu Mohapatra Earrings: Erickson Beamon at Showroom SEVEN

IRK: In your opinion, what is the key takeaway you hope readers will gain from "Dear Rebel," and how do you envision this book making a positive impact in the lives of its readers?

Catherine: The key takeaway is that we all must keep dreaming and we all have our own path by which we will shine!  Women are stronger and more courageous than we can even imagine; and by standing together we can make a positive difference.

IRK: What inspired you to become involved with projects focused on empowering women and girls, and how do you see your role in contributing to this empowerment?

Catherine: My mom.  Since I can remember, my mom has a rebel and spent her entire career in finance focused on empowering women.  She was a trailblazer in the male dominated industry of Wall Street and shared with me the risks and unconventional paths and choices she was forced to make to try and obtain equality in pay, opportunity and advancement as a woman.  In 8th grade, I did a year-long capstone project on gender inequality of women in the workforce.  In my research, I came across actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johannsson who had stood up for themselves.  I also did research on Wall Street and to my surprise found articles on my mom! It literally blew my mind.  I had no idea that my mother had also publicly fought for gender inequality and had made the hard and tough choice to speak up. I remember asking my mom, “why did you do this? Wouldn’t it have been easier just to walk away?”  She shared that of course that would have been the easy road, but she had to fight and speak up for what was right not just for herself, but for all women, and most importantly for us . . . her daughters. She said every voice can make a difference.   Anyway, I got an A+ on my capstone and I learned that I too have a responsibility as part of this world to stand up for what is right!  That day, another future rebel was born.

IRK: "Dear Rebel" celebrates the stories of 145 women who have made a significant impact. Can you share how these stories might serve as role models for individuals of all ages, not just girls?

Catherine: The book has women of all ages sharing their stories.  Some of them like me are at the beginning of their journey and many are right in the middle.  Hearing from so many perspectives is valuable to everyone regardless of age.  While this book celebrates women, every man in the world had a mother and will also relate and be inspired by these stories of strong, resilient, and passionate women.

IRK: In your experience, how can storytelling and literature like "Dear Rebel" be used to address gender inequalities and inspire positive change in society?

Catherine: The powerful stories of individuals impacted by gender inequality need to be told through media, film, tv, books, and podcasts.  It is only through learning about these stories and exposing everyone to inequalities that a society can have change.  That is one of the main reasons that art exists. Art is an expression of love, joy and of course, pain.  It is always more fun and easier to focus on the joy, but we must always make sure we are talking about the difficult and more painful stories.  That is how we will grow as humans.

IRK: "Dear Rebel" features diverse role models from various backgrounds and professions. How do these diverse perspectives help in breaking down stereotypes and encouraging girls to pursue their passions without limitations?

Catherine: We all have specific experiences and backgrounds that shape our views and perceptions of people and the world, both correctly and incorrectly.  It is only through being exposed to diverse and different views and people that we can begin to question and examine our own beliefs. Books like Dear Rebel break down these negative and false stereotypes that harm our society.

Dress: Fleur du Mal

IRK: Are there any upcoming events or projects related to women's empowerment and gender equality that you are excited about and look forward to, and would like to share with your audience?

Catherine: As a high school student, one of my favorite organizations that I am part of is Model UN.  These are United Nations simulations that engage hundreds of students at a time and have helped me to learn more about the principles of the UN and how it functions. It’s really exciting to participate in these as many of today’s world leaders in law, government, business and the arts – including leaders at the UN itself – participated in Model UN as students.  There is also an upcoming campaign by UN Women which is literally the global rebel for gender equality and its main goal is that every girl lives up to her full potential. Every year, UN Women supports 16 days of activism which is coming up at this month from November 25th to December 10th and the theme is uniting to prevent gender-based violence against women and girls.  I am really excited to support this campaign.

IRK: Favorite song right now?

Catherine: Art Deco by Lana Del Rey

IRK: Favorite Restaurant now?

Catherine: Thai Diner in NoLita in New York City

IRK: What advice do you have for young creatives right now?

Catherine: Be you! Find your inner rebel and take risks and speak up.  This is such a scary time right now in our world.  We need to spread messages of kindness, acceptance, and love.

IRK: We've partnered with the United Nations on spreading awareness on the Global Goals, Which Goal(s) do you align to?

Catherine: Every single goal has to be a priority and we are only 15% of the way there to achieving these global goals. The ones that I align with are gender equality, quality education for all, and zero hunger and poverty.  With all the wealth in this world, no children should be hungry, living without basic needs being met and not have access to education.

Photographer: Jayme Thornton @jaymethornton

Talent: Catherine Bradley @catherinebradley_ at imPRint @imprintpr

Stylist: Cannon @thecannonmediagroup at Ray Brown Represents @raybrownpro

Hair & Makeup: Glenn @glennbrownell at The Only Agency

Fashion Assistants: Winnie Noan @winnie_noan


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