There’s a New Nancy Drew in Town

It’s not exactly surprising that Kennedy McMann picked up a Nancy Drew book when she was a kid. Practically every girl in America has read at least one of the classic mysteries. What does feel like a bit more than coincidence (or dare we say fate) is how obsessed Kennedy became.

She didn’t just read the novels—she played the computer games too. She cowrote a musical in college and referred to herself as Nancy Drew in one of the songs. Later, before the TV series even existed, her fiancé nicknamed her “Nancy Drew.”

To Kennedy, Nancy never seemed like just a fictional character—it almost felt like she somehow lived inside Kennedy or like they were the same person: a strong-willed, small-town girl not afraid to take risks. So yeah, it’s both crazy and not at all crazy that this, of all the roles, is her first big one.

Oh my god, this is my voice. This is my brain. This character is ME, Kennedy says she immediately thought when reading the script for the first time. “It’s all very cosmic. If I could have picked one person to portray, it would have been her. It gives me shivers to even say that.”

Acting was an escape for Kennedy when she first started doing community theater in Arizona at 9 years old (she played a wench in The Three Musketeers, as every kid should). She’d been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, and her parents thought the stage would be a good distraction. Kennedy fell in love with the idea of replacing her own brain with that of a character’s, and she’s been acting ever since. But what started out as a coping technique didn’t become a leading-role situation until she graduated from college and landed the part of a lifetime.

Nancy Drew itself will probably feel a lot different than the books you grew up with. Within the first five minutes of the pilot, Nancy is hooking up with a sexy criminal. She’s waiting tables at a diner, and her boss, George (a woman), is having an affair with a married man whose wife conveniently ends up murdered. Cue the first mystery of the season!

It’s basically like Nancy Drew got the Riverdale treatment. And considering the two shows are airing back-to-back, the comparisons are unavoidable. They do both have a campy pulp-movie quality, but Kennedy thinks the biggest difference is the age factor. The Riverdale kids are still in high school, and Nancy and co. are heading to college, so the problems she and the rest of the characters face, and the way they handle them, are slightly more grown up.

“Nancy’s not the prim and proper, perfect Nancy Drew you know from the 1930s books,” says Kennedy. The character isn’t afraid to make mistakes a regular 19-year-old would make.

She even looks like a normal girl—when she breaks into a house in the first episode, she’s wearing jeans, a denim jacket, and a beanie. (Kennedy herself can pull off basically any outfit; the fashion spread you’re looking at rn should be the only receipt you need.) Honestly, though, The CW could put her in a literal sack and Kennedy wouldn’t care. When has anything gotten in Nancy Drew’s way?

© Emma Baty
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