It’s nearly impossible to write this story without hearing Kennedy McMann’s voice, slowly and quietly narrating each sentence, the same way she would an episode of Nancy Drew. Much like the theme of the CW series, the actress playing the title character is still a mystery herself. At 23, she’s a newcomer, a fresh face, who just so happened to land the role of a lifetime shortly after graduating college.
“It’s been crazy,” McMann agrees, speaking with me over the phone following InStyle’s photo shoot. Originally, she says, her goal was simply to get a callback during pilot season. “You just never expect it. So many stars have to align, and I feel extraordinarily fortunate that it all came together in the way that it has. It doesn’t happen every day.”
But McMann isn’t exactly an overnight success story. Acting is something she’s been doing since childhood as a way to cope with OCD, something she’s spoken about at length, and she went on to study drama at Carnegie Mellon. Add in the fact that Nancy Drew has been a staple in McMann’s life for years (she devoured the novels growing up, played Nancy Drew computer games, and has even been compared to the character a few times IRL) and, well, it almost would have been weird if she didn’t land the role.
“I think I have it in a text to one of my dearest friends that once I got an audition in New York, I said, ‘I will be Nancy Drew,’” she says. “It was something that I felt, after how she’s weaved through my life in different areas. People have even commented on this sort of likeness in the past. I never expected anyone else to trust that I could do it. I knew that I might be capable of it, but it felt very cosmic that other people agreed.”