These days, the former Fort Scott resident and 1991 Fort Scott High School graduate can be seen as one of the stars of the reality television program, "The Real Housewives of New York City," which airs on the Bravo network. The show chronicles the lives of five glamorous Manhattan women as they balance busy schedules and lifestyles in the Big Apple.
McCord, 34, now a career woman with a husband of nine years, two children and a thriving social life, spent 12 years of her life growing up and living in Fort Scott where she eventually became involved in drama and theatre at FSHS. The former actress and model is currently a graphic designer in the visual merchandising industry.
During her younger years in Fort Scott, McCord worked on several productions with Rod Peterson, a former 31-year local theatre director who retired from Fort Scott Community College last year.
"You never forget the person who directed you first," she said. "It was a wonderful experience to work with him."
She has been an actress in NYC for the last 10 years and has appeared in television, theatre, and several independent films during her career, McCord said during a Tuesday interview with The Fort Scott Tribune. Besides acting, she is also multi-lingual, a trained ballroom dancer, a target shooter and a scuba diver.
She was one of the first women to be cast on "The Real Housewives of New York City" based on the sources and connections that she and her husband, Simon van Kempen, who works in hotel management, have in the entertainment industry, McCord said.
"It was not originally the show we talked about getting involved in," she said. "But it's meant to be entertaining, and you have to take it with a grain of salt as you would any other type of reality TV. But it's fun. Simon and I are both people who take a bite out of life. It's how we operate."
The cast and crew of "The Real Housewives of New York City" spent three months last year filming all of the show's episodes, the first of which premiered on March 4, McCord said.
"We don't edit the show so we have literally hours of footage of all of us walking around New York City," she said.
McCord and van Kempen have two young sons, Francois and Johan, as well as busy and demanding careers. In the show, television cameras will document their family and social lives, as well as their careers, and highlight them on each weekly episode.
McCord, who was born in Washington, D.C., and van Kempen, who was born in Australia, have also traveled extensively during their lives. Between the two of them, they have lived in London, Milan, Paris, Sydney, Brisbane, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and several other smaller towns, but New York City remains their favorite place to live, according to the family's Web site, http://mccordvankempen.com.
"I just absolutely fell in love with the city," McCord said. "I think people who watch it will see that it's a character in itself on the show."
After her time in Fort Scott, which McCord calls the "ideal counterpoint to the urban experience," McCord attended Northwestern University where she studied theatre. She then traveled to Italy to model and tour with an English language theatre company.
She traveled western Europe and the United Kingdom, later returning to the U.S. to continue pursuing her acting career while working as a graphic designer.
Anyone who lives and works in New York City for several years is bound to run into a celebrity every now and then, as she herself has done on occasion since she and her family live in a neighborhood filled with people in the entertainment industry, McCord said.
McCord recalled a recent memory that involved her and a former cast member of the popular late-night television program, "Saturday Night Live."
"One time on 14th Street, I almost collided with Jimmy Fallon," she said. "We almost knocked each other over, had a moment and then moved on," she said with a laugh.
McCord said she had some simple advice for area young people who have a desire to one day become successful in the entertainment industry.
"Move to an area where there is a market for your skills, like L.A. or NYC -- just get out there and do it," she said.