One of the most respected young entertainers around, actress/musician Kiersey Clemons, has quickly become known for her versatility as well as her captivating screen presence. The in-demand actress has five films releasing over 2017 and 2018, and recently made headlines by landing the coveted female lead opposite Ezra Miller in the DC Comics adaptation, Flashpoint.
In the film, she will be playing tough-as-nails journalist, Iris West, the character to be introduced on Nov. 17 in the much-anticipated, Justice League. Earlier this year, Kiersey starred opposite Jeff Bridges and Kate Beckinsale in The Only Boy Living in New York, directed by Marc Webb.
2018 is also shaping up to be a big year for Clemons. She’ll be heading the cast in the thriller, Sweetheart, and playing the female lead in Hearts Beat Loud, a story following a Brooklyn record store owner who struggles over the course of the summer to let go of both his shop and his college-bound daughter.
Kiersey enjoyed a breakout role in the Sundance hit Dope, which was nominated at multiple festivals including Cannes and the Deauville American Film Festival. In 2016, Dope was nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, including Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture, and Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture.
Kiersey is making her mark on television, too, where she has a recurring role as Bianca on the Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning series, Transparent.
Her additional TV credits include Steven Spielberg’s Extant, alongside Halle Berry and Fox’s New Girl. She can also be seen on the Netflix original series, Easy, a sex-positive anthology with genuine portrayals of modern relationships.
Kiersey trained at Los Angeles’ famed improvisational company, The Groundlings. She is also a classically-trained musician who has collaborated with Grammy Award-winner Pharrell, providing vocals on multiple-tracks on both the Dope and Transparent soundtracks. In 2015, she appeared in Lady Gaga’s music video “Til it Happens to You,” directed by Catherine Hardwicke. The Oscar-nominated song was specifically composed for The Hunting Ground, a critically-acclaimed documentary about the rape epidemic on college campuses. She is also currently working on her debut solo album.
This month, Kiersey’s passion for fashion will merge with her entrepreneurial mindset as she launches the Kiers Collection in partnership with Zappos. Zappos will sell the shoes exclusively for 60 days before the collection expands to the rest of the retail world. The collection includes nine shoes she designed in conjunction with popular footwear designers Musse and Cloud.
In her spare time, Kiersey continues to support causes she feels strongly about, such as the Sierra Club. She lends her voice to support assorted women’s organizations, educating and taking action on pressing issues facing females worldwide. Here, she talks about playing the role of Sophia in Flatliners, a remake of the 1990 horror classic co-starring Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Oliver Platt and Hope Davis.
Hi Kiersey, I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.
Fantastic! That’s sweet.
I was blown away by your performance in Dope which was the first time I ever saw you. And I loved the movie so much I named it the No. 1 film of 2015 on my annual Top 100 list.
I’m very honored. It was my first movie. It’s cool to think that it was your No. 1 pick. So, thank you.
You all deserved it. Tell me what interested you in Flatliners and in playing Sophia?
The script was so fun! But I think the biggest thing was that I got to play a med student which is a very rare opportunity for a young woman of color. So, I was really excited about representing. Also, the original was made before I was born, and I liked the idea of reimagining the movie to bring it to an audience of my generation involving technology and science in a more modern way. And I felt lucky to be able to collaborate with Niels [director, Niels Arden Oplev] and, obviously, with the amazing actors in the movie. All of that made the project really enticing.
Did you go back and watch the original before shooting the film?
I did, when we were already on location in Toronto. I watched it after we had our first cast meeting with Niels, primarily because we make a few nods to the original in the film, and I wanted to be aware of what had happened there, even though we separate the two pictures.
What was it like working with Ellen Page and the rest of the cast?
We all really got along and became great friends. What was interesting about this ensemble cast is that we were all born in different countries and had different acting styles. We couldn’t tell how it was all going to play out, but it couldn’t have gone any better.
Have you ever seen my favorite film of Niels, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?
Of course! It’s effing amazing!
Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you’d like to star in?
I don’t know. I think we’re all pretty hungry for original content at the moment. I’m sure there’s a move out there that I haven’t even seen yet that I might like to remake, but I can’t think of anything right now.
It’s rare enough for someone to excel in one field, but you’ve managed to achieve that in both movies and music. What’s going on with you musically?
Well, I just finished shooting Hearts Beat Loud, about a father-daughter duo band. Nick Offerman plays my dad. We filmed all the original music, which I’m excited about, live. All the vocals are live, too. And I got to use an Ableton sync pad. It’s so sick! I really love music, and if I can keep incorporating music into movies, that would be awesome. I’m always writing my own music, but I don’t necessarily consider myself a musical artist. I just like to write and sing and dabble with instruments, I’m kinda going with the flow.
I wouldn’t call collaborating with the like of Pharrell and Lady Gaga just dabbling.
I’m not against releasing some original music, but first I have to find the right group of people to work with.
Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
Crawling around my aunt’s house with my cousins who always carried around a scarf that she would chew on. She called it her “silky,” but I don’t know why. [Laughs] That’s genuinely my earliest memory.
The Viola Davis question: What’s the biggest difference between who you are at home as opposed to the person we see on the red carpet?
That depends on what day you catch me on the carpet. [Laughing] On the carpet, I put a bit more thought into what it is I’m wearing, into what colors and patterns and textures I’m putting together. Me and my team approach it like a canvas, as if we want to paint a picture that’s interesting to look at. So, the red carpet’s artistic as opposed to getting dressed at home, which is more therapeutic. I think they both bring the same feeling of satisfaction, but I don’t match as well at home, and I can wear all the crazy stuff I couldn’t wear on the carpet.
That sounds like director Wes Anderson’s approach to filmmaking.
Really? I’ll take it. That’s pretty sick!
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
I don’t just see myself. I see my ancestors and my sisters, all the people who have influenced me and contributed to the making of this person. I think that has a lot to do with embracing myself and loving myself. I don’t rely on myself solely to be who I am. A lot of my inspiration comes from my mom and my dad, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my three little sisters, my baby brother and the rest of my relatives.
The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothing designer?
I like Chanel, because it’s classic, timeless and a little edgy. I like Chanel.
“Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan asks: What’s your dream locale in Los Angeles to live?
I love Santa Monica Canyon. It’s really beautiful.
Finally, Samuel L. Jackson asks: What’s in your wallet?
[Laughing] What’s in my wallet? My wallet has my license, my debit card and my clinic card. [Laughs some more]
Thanks again for the time, Kiersey, and best of luck with Flatliners.
Thank you so much, Kam.
You can catch Kiersey Clemons in Flatliners, in theaters now.