Katherine Ryan is known for her standup comedy specials, but now she’s entering the scripted series field with Netflix’s The Duchess. Katherine is the executive producer, writer, and star of The Duchess, which follows the powerful and problematic choices of a single mom living in London. Katherine’s daughter, Olive, is her greatest achievement, so Katherine debates having a second child with her ex. HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Katherine about bringing aspects of her life to the TV show.
“The biggest theme from my own life is that I approached all challenges as a single mother with power and conviction and authenticity,” Katherine told HollywoodLife. “My daughter was never a drag. I kept certain romantic relationships at arm’s length. I always prioritized my relationship with my daughter. I made mistakes, but none of them were down to like, ‘Oh God, I’m a single mom. I’m an alcoholic, and I’m really promiscuous.’ I see mothers portrayed like that, and I’m tired of it because being a single mother can be so joyful. It was my favorite time of my life raising my daughter when she was little. So all of that is from my life.”
Her onscreen daughter, Olive, is played by Kate Bryne. Katherine revealed that her real-life daughter, Violet, is totally okay with her mom creating a show that’s loosely inspired by their lives. Kate and Violet have also met and got along well!
“My daughter Violet, she understands [and] she has from the time she was a toddler, creative license,” Katherine continued. “She always understands that my stage persona is this enhanced version of my real life. She approved of Olive. I think she trusts me a lot to really respect her privacy and to create a fictionalized version of her that really isn’t that similar to what my daughter’s like at this point. She really liked it, and they got on really well. They were really friendly on set. Kids are like that, though. Do you remember being a kid and being like, ‘Hi, wanna play? Wanna have a sleepover?’ That’s what they were like.”
Finding the perfect young actress to play her onscreen daughter could have been a challenge, but it was an easy decision when Kate walked through the door. “I find that the biggest things in my life have always been really easy, really right in front of me, and you don’t have to work to get them,” Katherine told HollywoodLife. “She was the first girl that we saw, and I loved her straight away. I thought she was luminous. She was really special. She had this exquisite, very mature, calm presence on screen. It was her first job like that, and it was my first job like that. We saw some other girls afterward who had been scheduled, and they were brilliant, but they just didn’t have that ethereal calm that I was looking for from Olive. She’s just the most quintessentially British, angelic little thing. Shep and Katherine are nightmares, and I love that juxtaposition with her.”
At a young age, Kate has already proven that she’s got incredible comedic skills. “I’m really annoyed because I feel like if we do series 2, we will lose her to some Star Wars film or something,” Katherine quipped. “She’s just so naturally talented. She’s good at comedy. She’s good at drama. Kids are amazing. Some kids are unspoiled. They’re just these beautiful open books, and she certainly was that.” The Duchess season 1 is now streaming on Netflix.