The latest post in my Women in Fiction series is in honour of Beverly Katz, the FBI Crime Scene Investigator from Thomas Harris’ Hannibal books and the TV adaptation of the same name, in which she was portrayed by Hettienne Park.
Smart, snarky, quick-witted and damn good at her job, Katz (particularly her screen iteration, given the casting of an Asian-American actress) managed to break stereotypes with regards to gender and ethnicity whilst also being a genuinely likable and relatable character. We so rarely see women of colour who are the intellectual and ass-kicking equals of their male counterparts without them ever needing to play the ‘sexy’ or ‘exotic’ card. Katz also bucks the trend by being in a powerful, influential and successful role without having had to become cold, detached and masculine.
Intuitive, empathetic and level-headed, she also regularly acted as a grounding force for the disturbed Will Graham, becoming one of his most trusted friends and colleagues, whilst also being one step ahead of the bad guys (and her team) on several occasions.
Park said it perfectly herself when describing the experience of bringing Katz to life:
“I got to play this amazing woman who didn’t have to sleep with anyone (not that I would have minded) or act dumb and girlie, or fawn all over some guy, or be a conniving bitch to get people to notice or respect me, and she didn’t speak broken English or karate chop anyone (not that I would have minded). Nobody called her “dragon lady” or “exotic.” She could shoot a gun and drive that FBI SUV like a champ. And all with the extra added bonus of being Jewish.”
What’s not to love?