Cut to Black: Kathleen ‘Kat’ McAuley, Assistant Editor

For each day in the month of February, the Committee will be highlighting African-American members, both past and present, and their accomplishments. We look forward to showing the contributions and influences African-Americans have had on the industry.

Name: Kathleen ‘Kat’ McAuley

What’s your job? Assistant Editor

List the credits you’re most proud of. “Underground,” “Black Lightning,” “Better Things”

What are you working on right now? “Better Things,” FX. I’m particularly inspired to be on this show because it is written, directed by, and stars an amazing force, Pamela Adlon. I really wanted to be part of an experience where I was able to witness a woman truly run the show. Pamela even allowed me to shadow on set, which was really an incredible experience. I’m also working on two features at night. I learned from Shannon Baker Davis that you have to put the time in to move up. She had a husband and child, while still cutting features at night, and maintaining her day job as well. She was particularly inspirational.

Who and what are your influences and/or mentors? For editors, my influences are Thelma Schoonmaker, Angus Wall, Joe Walker, and Joi McMillan. Ben Barrenholtz was a mentor, but I’m afraid I didn’t follow his advice. After his death last year, I made a pact with myself to remember his advice, and live a fearless life. Post wise, Leander Sales introduced me to the Guild, and has always offered a helping hand. Troy Takaki has been very encouraging with industry advice over the years, through the ACE Mentorship program. They always answer my emails, and have always given sound advice about my ascension in this industry. Although I am still an assistant, I’ve mentored a few women to be assistants as well. I really wish that editors would take a more active roll in mentoring other Editors, particularly of groups that we rarely see in the editing chair. Look at your career, look around you. If your world is homogenous, with never having an ‘other’ as an equal, something is very wrong in your world. Just Joaquin it! Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had a mentoring relationship, in the way that some others have. I have a small pool of people that are encouraging, and I’m grateful for that, but sometimes I’m “Fleabag” in the confessional with the Hot Priest: I just want someone to “tell me what to do.”

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What books are you reading, shows are you watching and/or movies you’re excited about Books: “The Outliers” and “Save the Cat;” Movies: This season, I was particularly blown away by “Clemency,” “Parasite,” “Honey Boy,” and “The Farewell.”  I love the ‘heart’ of independent film; TV Shows: Comedy:  “Fleabag,” “Better Things,” “Chewing Gum,” “The Marvelous Ms. Maisel,” and any Dave Chappelle special; Drama: “When They See Us,” and “Succession!” I really love “Succession.” It’s my new “Breaking Bad.”

What would be your superhero name?  The Equalizer

What are your Black History Month memories, and what cultural or historical impacts have they had on your life? At a young age, I was able to interview, and have dinner with Betty Shabazz. Her memories of her husband, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X) ruined me for all relationships. Many don’t know the side of Malcolm that was a loving and devoted husband and father. She really opened up about the man behind the myth:  Her mouth would turn up at the corners and her eyes would just dance, referencing memories that she kept all to herself…after all those years! I was like, “I want that or bust!” Well, it’s been ‘bust.’

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? When people show you who they are, believe them. Given as advice, but the quote was from the late, great Maya Angelou.

If you could time travel, when would you go and why? I’d go back and stop the slave trade. I get the irony that I’d have to go back as a white, male, slave trader by the name of Sir John Hawkins: but the joy of adding a little color to his blood line would be worth it.

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What’s a little known fact about you? I’m editing two feature films at night while maintaining my day job.

What are your hidden (or not so hidden) talents? I direct (two shorts), and I started out as a classically trained actress.

What would be your dream project to work on? Lena Waithe talked about making black, protest art without the filter of the white lense: a chance to be our authentic self, with all of it beauty and complexity, without altering it for acceptance or understanding. I’m here to make protest art.

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