The Kat’s Out Of The Bag: The Nine Simultaneous Lives Of Katharine Kramer

Sunday September 1, 2019

By: Naiia Lajoie

Since its inception, those living in Tinseltown rapaciously pursue its offerings of fortune and/ or notoriety abundant in its rich history. But what of it? What if one did captivate the world’s attention – would you spearhead social issues, speak out against injustice? Moreover, if you were born into a spotlighted family of Hollywood elite, what would you do to carry on the legacy? Imagine for a moment that your father was regarded as Hollywood’s most liberally outspoken filmmaker. Now imagine that you were named after the greatest, most tenacious female film star of Classic Cinema. How does one carry this weight on their shoulders and continue to perform for the public?

Living this reality is Katharine “Kat” Kramer, for whom it just comes naturally. Born of producer-director Stanley Kramer and film & TV actress Karen Sharpe, the godchild and namesake of Katharine Hepburn inherently involves herself with socially conscious works in an effort to be groundbreaking while remaining grounded. Using her film company as a platform to shed light on tough-to-tackle topics such as animal captivity, hunting, LGBTQ bullying, and sexual abuse to name a few, Kat attacks current issues in a way that makes them accessible and relatable.

Growing up immersed in activism, when asked if it was her pedigree that pushed her into change-inspiring films or out of her own volition, Kat attributed her need to create compelling content to nature over nurture. Following in her late father’s footsteps, she created “Kat Kramer’s Films That Change the World”, a series of films produced in order to raise awareness about social issues in an artistic manner. Now in its 10th year, the actress continues to perpetuate Stanley Kramer’s legacy by presenting a lot of films at Sunset Gower Studios, formerly Columbia Pictures, where Mr. Kramer had a production deal.

Though not officially part of said series, Mother’s Day Memories is a short film about a woman facing Alzheimer’s disease. Told from the perspective of the afflicted character’s family, Kat intends to present the short as an outreach film for the Alzheimer’s Association and national organizations. The touching tale debuted during the LA Shorts Fest and has been accepted into the Niagara Falls International Film Festival in New York – as has Mother’s. It is sure to garner numerous accolades considering Kat is no stranger to the film festival circuit. Another feature Kat coproduced and co-starred in called Turnover had a special screening at the Golden State Film Festival where it won Best Picture.

In Turnover, a family-driven dramedy positing to be the inclusion film of the year, the cast reflects a diverse talent pool featuring actors with Downs syndrome and storyline involving deaf characters. As an advocate for the deaf community, Kat wanted to bring the issue of diversity-in-casting to light through authenticity; by casting people with disabilities. Prior to its November release, the film will be screened at the Love International Film Festival (on Kat’s mother’s birthday, no less) where Kat is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Ever wanting to push the envelope not only on social matters but also in her own performance pieces, Kat strives to illuminate even the darkest of places, including portraying (and working with) difficult characters. The actress admits that her most challenging role to date is that of her two male characters Rabbi Herbert Schweitzergold and B. Fred Baker in the TV series Child of the ‘70s. The caricature is based on real people she has interacted with, yet goes onto explain “it’s about having a conversation with them, and finding yourself in each character”. Even Mick Jagger, whose beloved songs have made many a list of music’s most misogynist lyrics, is a target for Kat’s do-gooder ways. In her solo stage show My Duet with Mick, she puts her own spin on things insinuating that they ought to collaborate. And while it takes stones to keep the covers rolling, Kat is not one to shy away from critics or controversy (she is after all a Kramer).

An empath at heart, Kat is led by, drawn to, and surrounds herself with people of equal-minded openness to humanity’s misgivings. Longtime friend, idol, and fellow actress Lily Tomlin frequents Kat’s successes and shares her affinity for animal rights. Lily, who won an Emmy for Best Voice Narration in the HBO documentary An Apology to Elephants, has also been involved with passion projects showcased by Kat including Elephants and Man: A Litany of Tragedy and LOVE & BANANAS: An Elephant Story. Both women continue propagating for the release of Billy the elephant from the LA Zoo. Kat also sang “Bless The Beasts And Children” from Stanley Kramer’s film of the same name when Lily received the Hope Award from the PETCO Foundation, and has performed with animal-free circus Le PeTiT CiRqUe for Circus PAWS (the Performing Animal Welfare Society).

Having already accomplished so much, Kat is constantly abuzz. While her father worked on one film at a time, she feels the need to tackle ten projects at once. It is how the actress-producer keeps up with the times, her self-admitted reaction to “becoming woke”. Kat seeks to create a sense of community in a world that is growing divisive; whether that entails rehabilitating gang members or honoring new recipients with her established Hunt for Humanity Award, named after the prestigious activist Marsha Hunt. Like her late godmother, the great Katharine Hepburn, she feels the need to continuously immerse herself in work. Co-writing scripts with others, developing a one person show coming out in the fall of 2020 (her goal is the Hollywood Fringe Festival), and eventually writing a book paying homage to her father with some autobiographical aspects. Kat Kramer is so much more than a surname – she carries on a legacy. She felt lead by her father’s spirit when she selected The Cove as one of her films that changed the world, and later went on to change the façade of Santa Monica by closing down “The Hump” restaurant by protesting its serving of whale meat; a story covered by CNN. Most recently she participated in The Official Animal Rights March in Downtown LA despite the scare felt in the wake of recent mass shootings. This is her constant endeavor, not a flash in the pan. She is always trying to introduce new issues while reinforcing recurring ones. Her labors of love are all about progress. And while she attributes her film selections to something almost divine interventionlike, for those who are interested in bringing forth new ideas she welcomes projects finding her rather than seeking them out, so direct all inquiries to her websites and www.

“Plug issues on social media. It’s important for citizens to speak out. Because one voice can make a different. One film CAN change the world.” – Kat Kramer

Kat Kramer’s Films That Change The World” presents Elephants And Man: A Litany Of Tragedy. Presented by Kat Kramer, hosted by Lily Tomlin, along with the Voice For The Animals Foundation. Cher and Tippi Hedren were on the Host Committee. PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Getty Images

Kat Kramer with Turnover co-star Paul Guilfoyle. PHOTO CREDIT: Billy Bennight

Actor Carlos Carrasco (“Miguel”) and Kat Kramer (“Fran”) at a special screening of Turnover during the Golden State Film Festival PHOTO CREDIT: Billy Bennight

Kat Kramer with actress Jamie Brewer who is featured in the ensemble cast for Turnover. PHOTO CREDIT: Billy Bennight

Kat Kramer as “Fran” in Turnover PHOTO CREDIT: Kris D Mauga

Kat Kramer with her performing idol Lily Tomlin, alongside Mrs. Stanley Kramer, a.k.a Karen Sharpe-Kramer PHOTO CREDIT: Jesse Watrous

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