Asked to describe the last few years of her career, following her big-screen breakout in Rick Famuyiwa’s “Dope,” Kiersey Clemons notes, “there’ve been hits and misses.”
It’s probably not the way most 23-year-old actors would describe a three-year span that includes roles across prestige TV (“Transparent,” “Easy”), studio comedy (“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”) and giant blockbusters (“Justice League,” in which she’ll play Iris West). But it’s clear from talking to her that Clemons has very different standards for success and failure than your average actor.
“I might consider something a miss that other people might not,” she says, going on to explain her decidedly intuitive, non-careerist approach. “[I look at people like] Zoe Kravitz and Ellen Page, people who aren’t desperate or hungry for fame, and who aren’t doing something because it’s the next move to get them this or that. They do it because it’s fitting at the time, and it’s what feels good. That’s been very inspirational for me.”
Clemons acknowledges that the sheer scale of the “Justice League” shoot took some adjustment — “the lot is huge, there are a million trailers, you go to the gym and work out with Aquaman” — and she made sure to bookend that shoot with a whole spate of smaller indies set for 2018, including Brett Haley’s “Hearts Beat Loud” and the Blumhouse thriller “Sweetheart.”
As much as she’s broadened her palette as an actor, Clemons notes that the next step is to go deeper. “I just want to do things ten times more intentionally,” she says. “I feel like I’ve tapped into a lot of things, but I haven’t full-throttle done comedy or full-throttle done drama.” That said, she nonetheless makes it clear that she doesn’t subscribe to the notion that acting should be a self-abnegating endurance test.
“I don’t care how big a director is, if I hear that he’s miserable to work with, I’m not going to do it,” she says. “I’m not gonna be in misery for two months because it’s a good career move. If I can see a shit-show coming, I’m not going to the show.”
Influences: “My peers,” Zoe Kravitz, Ellen Page, Ava DuVernay, Rick Famuyiwa
Representation: Agency: UTA; Manager: Mach 1, MJMG